Monday, October 10, 2016

Passings: Don Ciccone of the Critters, Four Seasons and Shondells

by VVN Music

Don Ciccone, whose credits included being a member of the Critters, the Four Seasons and the Shondells, has died at the age of 70.

Tommy James wrote:

I'm very sad to hear of the death of Don Ciccone.

He was a great friend, my writing partner on many songs, and a member of The Shondells for about eight years in the 1980s.

We covered a lot of ground together, from his early days with The Critters to those with The 4 Seasons.

Another good guy gone too soon. I'll miss him very much.
Ciccone was born in New Jersey and, by the age of 14, was already a musical entrepreneur, releasing his first single, The Only Girl, on his own Speedway Records.

The Critters were originally known as the Vibratones until Ciccone and Bob Podstawski joined in 1964. The band originally signed with Musicor but, after one single, moved to Kapp where they recorded the John Sebastian song Younger Girl. The single, which was only a minor hit (#42 U.S. / #38 U.K.), was followed by a song that Don wrote, Mr. Dieingly Sad. That single became their biggest hit, going to 17 in the U.S.

Soon after, the original Critters broke up when three members, including Ciccone, entered the service. Don served in Viet Nam before being discharged.

During the 70's, Ciccone was asked to be the new lead guitarist and vocalist for Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of two singers who were brought in to ease the singing load on Valli who was having health problems. It was during this time that the group had their huge resurgence after a number of years without a major hit.

Ciccone, who also played bass with the band, can be heard singing on their major hits Who Loves You, December 1963 (Oh What a Night) along with songs like Rhapsody on the Halcyon album.

After his days with the Four Seasons, Don was asked by Tommy James to become one of the Shondells as their Music Director. He stayed with them until 1987 when he decided to strike out on his own, putting together a successful solo career in Japan. He has been touring around the world ever since.

Ciccone is survived by his wife and two children.