December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" is a hit single by The Four Seasons, written by original Four Seasons keyboard player Bob Gaudio and his future wife Judy Parker, produced by Gaudio, and included on the group's 1975 album Who Loves You.

This song hit number one on the UK singles chart on February 21, 1976. It repeated the feat on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on March 13, remaining in the top spot for three weeks and one week on Cash Box and in Canada. New drummer Gerry Polci and bassist Don Ciccone shared lead vocals with long-time frontman Frankie Valli.

The song was originally about the repeal of Prohibition, but the lyrics were changed at the urgings of Valli and lyricist Parker. The song became a nostalgic remembrance of a young man's "first time" with a woman. In the Broadway play Jersey Boys, the song accompanied the Bob Gaudio character being set up with a prostitute by the other Four Seasons, in order to lose his virginity.

In 1994, the record was re-released with added percussion effects and remixed vocals (mixed by Dutch disk jockey Ben Liebrand in 1988). This version of "December, 1963" spent 27 weeks on the Hot 100 (matching the chart life of the original single). The peak position of the remix version was #14.

Adding together the two 27-week chart runs from 1976 and 1994 gives the song the longest tenure ever on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart.

Cover versions

  • French singer Claude François covered the song on his album Le Vagabond in 1962; his version was entitled “Cette année-là” (“That Year”). Incorporating new lyrics reminiscing François' own beginnings in show business in the year 1962, the song became a hit in Europe. The song was the original version of "Oh, What a Night".
  • Another French version, entitled "Ces soirées-là" ("Those Nights"), was produced by Yannick in 2000. It was based on Claude François' song. It peaked at #1 in France and Belgium. The lyrics recount the fun had at a certain night club. This rap is featured at the beginning of the Broadway Musical, Jersey Boys.
  • Slovene Singer Tomaž Domicelj covered the song on his album Na planini je živel; his version was entitled "Jamajka" ("Jamaica"). Whether it is a cover of the original song or Claude François’ is unclear.
  • In 1996, British dance duo Clock took it to #13 in the UK chart.
  • Wyclef Jean has done a hip-hop version of this song, titled "What a Night", about his journey as a hip-hop artist, released on the album Masquerade.
  • In 2001, Mr. Vegas (together with singer Jackie) did a cover of this song which was featured on his album Damn Right.
  • Caltech acapella group, Fluid Dynamics, released an acapella version of this song on their album Making Waves.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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