Artist News Obituaries

Bob Crewe 1930-2014

By | Published on Tuesday 16 September 2014

Bob Crewe

American songwriter Bob Crewe – who’s most known for his many high-charting collaborations with Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons, and for co-writing ‘Lady Marmalade’ – died last week aged 83. His health had apparently been in decline following a bad fall several years back.

Born in 1930 and raised in Belleville, New Jersey, Crewe at first aspired to be a solo artist, and sang for a living over the 1940s and 1950s. He then began writing and producing tracks for other acts, earning his first bona fide chart hit in 1957 as producer of The Rays’ ‘Silhouettes’, an alternate version of which was later released by British band Herman’s Hermits.

Crewe formed his most significant songwriting alliance in the early 1960s when he met Bob Gaudio, backing vocalist and keyboardist with The Four Seasons. With Crewe acting as primary lyricist, the pair scored their first US number one in 1962 with Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons’ track ‘Sherry’, going on to collaborate on the likes of ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’, ‘Rag Doll’, Walk Like A Man’, ‘Bye, Bye, Baby (Baby, Goodbye)’ and ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’.

In the mid-1960s he started his own label, DynoVoice Records, and in 1967, as The Bob Crewe Generation, released his biggest solo single in ‘Music To Watch Girls By’, having originally heard the song as a Diet Pepsi ad jingle written by Sid Ramin. The Bob Crewe Generation also composed and released the score to Jane Fonda-starring sci-fi film ‘Barbarella’ in 1968.

Moving into a disco phase with the genre’s rise in the 1970s, Crewe sang in bands like Disco-Tex and the Sex-O Lettes, later co-writing Patti Labelle’s iconic ‘Lady Marmalade’ in 1975.

Crewe is also credited as the main lyricist for ‘Jersey Boys’, the Tony Award-winning stage (and now film) musical charting Frankie Valli et al’s rise to fame. Despite his being characterised as an ‘overtly gay’ man in the show, Crewe was in fact, claims his brother Dan, very private about his homosexuality. Speaking via The New York Times, Dan, Crewe’s only surviving direct relative, has said that “whenever he met someone, he would go into what I always called his John Wayne mode, this extreme masochism”.

“He had an intense love affair with words”, adds Dan. “He told stories”.