Nick Massi, a founding member of early '60s hitmakers the Four Seasons, died of cancer Dec. 24 in Newark, N.J., according to local paper The Star-Ledger. He was 73.
Massi, born Nicholas Macioci in 1927, sang bass vocals for the popular quartet led by falsetto singer Frankie Valli.
During his four years with the band, between 1961 and 1965, it recorded numerous hits, including "Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry," "Walk Like a Man," and "Rag Doll."
Valli's high-pitched crooning is the most recognizable element of the group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 — but Valli has said that Massi, responsible for much of the musical arrangements, was a mentor to him.
"He could do four-part modern harmonies that would amaze musicians who had studied for years. And he did it all in his head without writing it down," Valli told The Star-Ledger.
When he tired of touring, Massi quit the band, but he continued his career in music. He worked as an arranger, vocal coach, and engineer in numerous New Jersey studios, with bands such as the Baby Toys, the Carmels, and the Victorians.
It was Massi's pop savvy that allowed the Four Seasons to be one of the few American bands, along with the Beach Boys, to weather the British invasion, as they continued to release successful singles after the arrival of The Beatles.
Bob Crewe, writer and producer for the Four Seasons, told the Newark paper, "He was one of the most informed musicians I've ever worked with, with an innate sense of how things worked together."