Tommy DeVito, original Four Seasons member, dead at 92 from COVID-19 – New York Post
Written by on September 22, 2020
Tommy DeVito, one of the smooth harmonizers of legendary doo-wop group the Four Seasons, has died from complications of the coronavirus. The baritone vocalist and lead guitarist was 92.
When reached by The Post for comment, Four Seasons frontman Frankie Valli and singer-keyboardist Bob Gaudio said in a joint statement:
“It is with great sadness that we report that Tommy DeVito, a founding member of the Four Seasons, has passed. We send our love to his family during this most difficult time. He will be missed by all who loved him.”
Actor Alfred Nittoli (“Casino”) first confirmed DeVito’s passing Tuesday on Facebook.
“My dear friend Tommy passed away in Las Vegas at 9:45 last night,” Nittoli wrote, spurring dozens of emotional condolences. “With deep regret I am writing this sitting in his living room. I was informed by his daughter Darcel there will be a service in New Jersey.”
DeVito, a native of Belleville, NJ, was hospitalized recently after contracting COVID-19, NJ.com reported.
DeVito began performing with Newark native Valli in doo-wop crews such as the Variatones and the Four Lovers circa 1954. After co-founding the Four Seasons in 1960, the male vocalist crew cranked out a string of chart-topping hits in a decade otherwise dominated by the British Invasion. The bandmates’ classic tracks include “December 1963 (Oh, What a Night),” “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Sherry.”
The Four Seasons’ sweet sounds earned them induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, followed by a slot in the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. However, their surprisingly gritty origin story — marked by brushes with the Genovese mob family and drug addiction — is what inspired 2005’s Tony-winning Broadway hit “Jersey Boys.” The long-running jukebox musical was later adapted as a 2014 feature film by director Clint Eastwood.
DeVito left the group in 1971. At the time, his departure was publicly blamed on a hearing problem. It was later revealed, All Music reported, that he had “run up enormous gambling debts, as well as a hefty tax bill, and Valli and Gaudio assumed the obligations as the price for buying him out of the group.”
The estranged band members later reunited and shared many photo ops at promotional events for the “Jersey Boys” musical and film.