While songwriter/producer/recording star, Bob Crewe, is perhaps best remembered for the notable parade of hits penned with co-writer Bob Gaudio, for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons the credits begin considerably earlier.
In the early ’50s, New Jersey-born Crewe first tasted success on the music charts with writing teammate Frank Slay with a batch of hits for a variety of artists. Among the best known were “Silhouettes” and “Daddy Cool” for The Rays; “Lah Dee Dah” and “Lucky Ladybug” for Billy and Lillie; and Freddy Cannon’s “Tallahassee Lassie” and “Okefenokee.”
In 1961, Crewe also blossomed as a recording artist himself, with a pair of solo albums on Warwick Records. Kicks, featuring “The Whiffenpoof Song,” and Crazy in the Heart, both produced by one of the more colorful producers of that time.
Following these successes as a solo recording act, Crewe joined forces with songwriter Bob Gaudio, and good fortune struck almost immediately for the pair with the smash hit, “Sherry,” for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Thus began a years-long association with an uninterrupted string of chart successes including “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Ronnie,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Bye Bye Baby” and “Connie 0,” as well as the monumental Frankie Valli hit, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.”
Other Crewe and Gaudio successes include “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine,” for The Walker Brothers and “Silence Is Golden” by The Tremeloes. Following this phase, Crewe moved out again on his own to form The Bob Crewe Generation (“Music to Watch Girls By”), utilizing studio musicians and original material for instrumental music collections. Bob Crewe later teamed with writer, Charles Fox, in penning the soundtrack for Dino De Laurentis’ film, “Barbarella.”
During the mid-sixties, Bob Crewe turned discoverer, locating a band known as Billy Lee and The Rivieras, which he later re-named, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, a major success on the charts with such Crewe-arranged smashes as “Jenny Take a Ride,” “Devil With the Blue Dress On” and “Sock It to Me Baby.”
As the ’60s were coming to a close, Crewe had also established his own recording firm, Crewe Records, which owned hits by Oliver and Lesley Gore, among others. Later, Crewe wrote and produced the song, “Eternity,” which became an international hit for Vicki Carr. Following a short stay with Motown Records, when he produced what turned out to be Bobby Darin’s final album, Crewe rejoined forces with Bob Gaudio and Frankie Valli, and bought back from Motown the tape master for Valli’s “My Eyes Adored You,” a song co-written with Kenny Nolan, which became a huge new hit for Valli on Private Stock Records. The song “Lady Marmalade,” another joint effort for Crewe and Nolan, went on to reach hit status and also helped re-establish Patti LaBelle as an artist of major stature.
Still later, Crewe and Gaudio teamed with another writer, Jerry Corbetta, in penning the hit song “You’re Looking Like Love to Me,” for Roberta Flack and Peabo Bryson. Crewe also collaborated with Corbetta and the writer, Ellie Greenwich, in producing the original cast album for Greenwich’s Broadway musical, “Leader of the Pack.” —Songwriter’s Hall of Fame