Bob Crewe sharing a laugh on the phone, 2009

Bob Crewe at home.

To view Bob Crewe, in the words of Rolling Stone magazine, as “a pioneering architect of pop music” is to see only half the picture. The other half is Crewe’s prominence as a major American painter. Put together, the whole is an artist of broad reach and deep complexity.

It was the sixties when Crewe’s music career catapulted. His success with the Four Seasons was unprecedented. Fashioning a new sound, he struck a major chord in American pop. `Sherry,’ `Big Girls Don’t Cry,’ `Dawn,’ `Candy Girl’ `Ronnie’ `Walk Like A Man’ -all smashes. When lead singer Frank Valli demanded a solo turn, Crewe (along with Bob Gaudio) created “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’; eventually it became the century’s fifth most played song. Crewe scored time and again with everyone from Vicki Carr to Lesley Gore to Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. In the late sixties, he cowrote and co-produced the soundtrack for Roger Vadim’s Barbarella.

In the seventies Crewe moved to Los Angeles where he revived Frankie Valli’s career with “My Eyes Adored You.” His contribution to disco was seminal. He cowrote LaBelle’s smoldering “Lady Marmalade; and for Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, who hit with “Get Dancin'” and “I Wanna Dance Wit’ Choo,” he created a campy revue that still plays South Beach. For his own Bob Crewe Generation, he fashioned the industry’s first 12-inch 45. In 1983, Roberta Flack, dueting with Peabo Bryson, climbed the charts with Crewe’s “You’re Looking Like Love To Me.”

Crewe’s reentry into the art world has been dramatic. Since 1992, he’s had five major one-man shows- Earl McGrath , Solomon’s Garage, and three at the Jan Baum Gallery. Of the most recent, critic Peter Clothier applauded the artist’s “dedication to the human relevance of art…his sense of play, whether humorous or musical…his spirit of endless investigation.” David Ritz