2021-04-22 13:10:39 UTC
Joe Long, Four Seasons bassist and Elizabeth native, has died
Asbury Park Press
Published 5:02 a,m ET Apr. 22, 2021 ]
Updated 5"02 a,m ET Apr. 22, 2021
Joe Long, the Elizabeth native who joined Four Seasons in 1965, has died.
He was 88.
“It is with great sadness that we learned that our dear bandmate, Joe Long, has passed away,” said Four Seasons members Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio in a statement on social media. “We send our deepest condolences to his family, friends and fans.
“We will miss Joe.”
Long was born Joe LaBracio in Elizabeth. He played music to support his family after his dad became ill when Tommy DeVito of the Four Seasons called.
They were looking for a replacement for departed original bassist Nick Massi.
“I got a call from Tommy DeVito who had been talking to a friend, an agent who was booking me, a guy named Frankie Fame,” said Long to Stuart Miller of the Genuine Imitation Life Gazette Four Seasons fan site. “That was when Nick left abruptly and they were looking for another guy and Frankie said, 'I think I've got the guy for you. He plays bass, he's got a gruffy voice like Nick, sounds like he has a cold all the time, and he might be the guy.' "
Long's first show with the band was in front of 6,500 fans in West Virginia without a rehearsal.
“Finally it's like the day of the job, and I had been traveling with them by the way listening to the shows, and the day of the show they said to me, ‘Charlie isn't making it. You're on tonight!’ And I said, ‘You know, I haven't had one rehearsal!’ ” Long said. “So they said, ‘Well, do the best you can!’ So, in front of 6,500 people I went out there practically wetting my pants, and did the show.”
Long was part of a creative resurgence for the band who scored hits like “Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me),” “Can't Take My Eyes Off of You,” “C'mon Marianne” and “Who Loves You” with him on bass.
On stage, he became a focal point, tall and left-handed.
“Tommy (DeVito) was the comic in the group and when I went with the band, Tommy and I just formed a relationship that was really astounding,” said Long, who lived in Long Branch in his later years. “We just kind of tuned into each other as far as timing and bouncing off each other, and so the comedy got enhanced from that point on and it was like all hell broke loose. Tommy and I would run away with things and it got to be really funny.”
DeVito passed away last September and Massi in 2000.
Long's run with the Jersey group ended in the mid '70s. After that, he formed the rock band LaBracio and jazz group Jersey Bounce. He was inducted, along with the rest of Four Seasons, into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2018.
In 2014, High Street in Elizabeth was renamed Joe Long Way in his honor.
“You can take the boy out of Elizabeth but you can't take the Elizabeth out of the boy,” said Long that day.
Subscribe to app.com for the latest on the Jersey music scene.
Chris Jordan, a Jersey Shore native, covers entertainment and features for the USA Today Network New Jersey. Contact him at @chrisfhjordan; ***@app.com.