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Entertainment Arts

Baltimorean boosted voices of Valli, Four Seasons

Picture it: Club Venus, Perring Plaza. One night in 1967, booking agent Bill Bateman brought in Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Responsible for making sure the crowd hears the music at the best possible level is the house soundman, Bob Goldstein.

The familiar strains of "Sherry," "Rag Doll" and "Walk Like a Man" filled the place so effectively that night it changed Goldstein's life. Clair Brothers, the sound company from Pennsylvania that started in 1966 with a Four Seasons gig in Lancaster, offered Goldstein a job.

"I dropped out of college and went on the road with the group in 1967," Goldstein said. "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons were always audio-centric. They were very meticulous performers. I never worked with artists who were more demanding — in a good way, causing me to think about what I was doing."

A couple of years into the touring, Clair Brothers asked Goldstein to work on another project, but he felt he couldn't walk away from the Four Seasons. He stayed with the group, while also building up his own audio company, Maryland Sound International, which went on to become a major enterprise based in Northwest Baltimore.

In addition to working with touring music shows, Maryland Sound handles the sound for the New Year's Eve extravaganza in Times Square. It also provided the audio for President Obama's inauguration.

Goldstein stayed with the Seasons until 1985.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "They were an amazing group of guys. They were my favorites; they still are."

Goldstein's on-the-road anecdotes include a gig the group shared on Long Island with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. "You can imagine who was in the audience," he said. "When I took a breather in the parking lot, I saw FBI agents talking down license numbers. It was right out of 'The Godfather.'"

Then there was the time he was pulled over for speeding in Florida on his way to set up for a gig. One of the group's guitar players was in the truck smoking pot, so Goldstein jumped out to intercept the cop before he could smell it. Suddenly, a car flew by carrying other group members; one of them, Tommy DeVito, "started making faces out the window," Goldstein said. "The cop jumped back in his car and chased after them. He gave them a ticket. I didn't get one."

A few years ago, while in New York to prepare for the New Year's celebration, Goldstein's wife asked him to see "Jersey Boys" with her.

"I said, 'Nah, I lived through that. Why do I want to go see that?' But I went," he said. "I fully expected to fall asleep within a few minutes. But I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. The show is 100 percent true, which blew my mind."

—Tim Smith

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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