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Bob Crewe

Lyricist, Composer
( b. Nov 12, 1930 Newark, New Jersey, USA - d. Sep 11, 2014 Scarborough, Maine, USA ) Male
Bob Crewe helped create a parade of indelible hits, most notably for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, including "Sherry," "Walk Like a Man," "Rag Doll" and Mr. Valli's soaring anthem of adoration "Can't Take My Eyes Off You."

Mr. Crewe was a singer himself in the 1940s and '50s, but he found his niche writing, co-writing and producing for a wide range of other artists, sometimes on record labels he started, including Dynovoice. His first hit, written with Frank Slay, was the 1957 single "Silhouettes"; a Top 10 hit for the Rays, it became a Top 10 hit again for Herman's Hermits in 1965. That same year he produced "Devil With a Blue Dress On & Good Golly Miss Molly," a hit for Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.

But it was in his work with the Four Seasons and the striking falsetto of Mr. Valli that Mr. Crewe established himself as a master purveyor of pop sentimentality. In less than 10 years he helped make the group one of the best known in the history of popular music.

The group had been struggling to find a hit and a record label in the early 1960s when Mr. Crewe, who had worked with Mr. Valli in the past, decided to take a chance on them. In 1962 he produced their first No. 1 hit, "Sherry," written by the group's keyboardist, Bob Gaudio, and he soon began helping write songs for them.

With Mr. Gaudio composing most of the music, Mr. Crewe wrote most of the words -- some syrupy, some shamelessly ogling -- that Mr. Valli sang with urgency. Mr. Crewe is portrayed in the hit Broadway musical Jersey Boys and credited as the show's lyricist; in the movie version, directed by Clint Eastwood, he is played by Mike Doyle.

With bright bells, ample strings and big, precise percussion, Mr. Crewe's productions were crisp confections that gave little ground to the rougher rock that was on the rise in the 1960s. He wrote about innocent crushes, direct sexuality and heartache, his metaphors always accessible.

Crewe was born in Newark and grew up in Belleville, N.J. He took tap dance lessons as a boy and performed on street corners in Newark. After graduating from Belleville High School, he studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in Manhattan before dropping out to pursue music. He met Mr. Slay in New York and by the early 1950s they were writing songs together.

Mr. Crewe was gay, and his brother, his only survivor, said he was discreet about his sexuality in many of his social circles. He noted that in Jersey Boys Mr. Crewe was portrayed as overtly gay, but in real life that was not the case, Mr. Newman said, particularly during the period when he was working with the Four Seasons. Promotional material for Dynovoice Records quoted a female singer fawning over Mr. Crewe's handsomeness.

Source: The New York Times obituary 

ProductionsDate of Productions
Jersey Boys
[Musical, Original]
  • Lyrics by Bob Crewe
  • Featuring songs by Bob Crewe
Nov 06, 2005 - Present
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