Somewhere in the world, a Bob Crewe song is playing every 20 minutes, according to an obituary on his official website. It’s certainly true that, as a producer and co-writer behind some of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons‘ biggest hits, helped craft songs that are still known far and wide today. He passed away earlier this week at age 83.
Four Seasons songs with Crewe’s hand in them included “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Let’s Hang On” and “Rag Doll.” He also worked on Valli solo hits “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (since covered by Lauryn Hill, and many others), as well as “My Eyes Adored You.”
Among songs for other artists, Crewe co-wrote Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” which more recently became a Missy Elliott-produced hit for Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mýa and Pink. He also co-wrote the Walker Brothers’ “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” — sung by the same crooner, Scott Walker, who more recently collaborated with Sunn O))). Another Crewe credit: Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels’ “Jenny Take a Ride.”
With his band the Bob Crewe Generation, he recorded “Music to Watch Girls By” in 1967. He also composed the score for the 1968 cult film Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda.
Crewe, who was gay, took pride in having succeeded in the face of anti-gay discrimination, his brother told the Portland (Maine) Press-Herald. His Bob Crewe Foundation funds AIDS research and promotes LGBT rights as well as supporting aspiring artists and musicians.
Crewe is a character in the long-running Broadway show about the Four Seasons, Jersey Boys. In this year’s Clint Eastwood-directed film version, he’s played by actor Mike Doyle.
“He created The Four Seasons,” his brother Dan Crewe is quoted as saying. “But he will be remembered for the actual songs he wrote, the quality of those songs, which are now considered the standards of the rock’n’roll era.”