Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Rich memories

Don Ciccone, hit-making voice of a generation, to perform in Ketchum

Express Staff Writer

Don Ciccone and his guitar will tell stories of life on the road on Valentine’s Day.
Express photo by Roland Lane

    Musician Don Ciccone has every right to be pretentious. He was one of Frankie Valli’s Four Seasons, and when the man tells a story of his rich musical life, his personal stories are about stars such as Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Tommy James and others.
    Still, he would rather you find him interesting. When he opens up a conversation with a reporter about his upcoming performance on Valentine’s Day evening, Feb. 14, at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum, he doesn’t assume his star-studded history is common knowledge. And that is an endearing understated response to the legend.
    His latest adventure is a show called “Songs and Stories from a Life of a Hit Singer/Songwriter,” and it is billed as an inside look at a rock-and-roll life.
    The show will be peppered with some new songs, some old songs and stories from a colorful life that started with a hit song when he was 19, and from which he has semi-retired a few times.
    The youngest of four children, Ciccone learned to play piano, accordion, drums, bass and guitar at an early age. His sisters’ vocal harmonies encouraged him to study music theory and develop a singing voice and style in his teens.
    By the time he was 19, Ciccone got a record deal in New York City and had the first of three hit records with his band, The Critters. He was the lead singer and writer. He volunteered for military service during the Vietnam War, but as he returned from serving “his country proudly for four years,” Ciccone’s return to civilian life didn’t last long after he took a phone call from Frankie Valli, asking him to become one of The Four Seasons.
    Ciccone’s vocal prowess and instrumental expertise brought the Seasons their first record deal in years with the songs “Who Loves You” and “December ’63 (Oh What a Night),” the biggest hits Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons ever had.
    He then collaborated with Tommy James of The Shondells, and after putting a new Shondells together, he toured successfully with them for many years before real retirement.
    “But you can’t stop creative thinking,” and more recently, it was Ciccone’s brainstorm to gather his successful hit-maker friends from the recording industry to form a band appropriately named The Hit Men. Performing the hits that each of them recorded for so many other major artists, the band was a great success on tour and is still going.
    “This (the solo act) is a relatively new venture,” he said from his Sun Valley home. “And it consists of some humor stories, some humorous songs, the hit songs I have been involved with, the stories behind those songs—some are humorous, some are curious, other songs that connect to funny events in my life. And, there are some giveaways.”
    If he’s feeling especially romantic that night, the holiday can be a contributor, but it’s more likely that it’s because he’s celebrating his first year of marriage to “a breathtakingly beautiful” painter named Stephanie, who he met on an airplane.
    The couple bounces around to a home in central Florida, her family in South Carolina and Sun Valley.
     The show will be an intimate gathering. A glass of champagne will come with the tickets, which are $35. The nexStage Theatre will offer a no-host bar and appetizers. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.         Get tickets and information from 726-4TKS.
    For a refresher course on Ciccone, visit or

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