Was “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” Originally Written About Prohibition?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)” was originally about the repeal of Prohibition.

By the middle of the 1970s, the Four Seasons were in a bit of a pickle. Their lead singer (and most famous member), Frankie Valli, had tremendous problems with hearing loss, so he was no longer able to be the lead singer for the group.

In a clever move, rather than disbanding, the group brought in two new band members (by “the group,” I basically just mean Valli and co-founder Bob Gaudio) who would sing the lead vocals for the group while Valli would contribute occasional bridges, just to make his presence felt in the group (as he WAS still the most famous member of the group). New drummer Gerry Polci and bassist Don Ciccone were the two main vocalists on the album Who Loves You…

Polci was the lead vocalist on the song that became “December, 1963 (Oh What a Night).”

The tune would become a massive hit, and helped cement the Four Seasons as a group able to succeed in the (then) current pop charts.

The song was a catchy tune about a young man losing his virginity.

However, the original title of the song showed what the original topic of the song was.

Originally, the tune was titled “December 5th, 1933,” which happens to be the day that the Constitutional Amendment was passed repealing Prohibition!

So the song was initially a tune about the day Prohibition ended, which certainly would be a cool backdrop for a wild night, I am sure.

But Valli felt that the topic wasn’t interesting enough, so he asked Gaudio (who co-wrote the song with his wife, Judy Parker) to change it. Parker was not a big fan of the topic, either, so they complied and, well, the rest is hit single history!

Isn’t it funny how they kept the same title structure of the original tune?

The legend is…


Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

Leave a Reply