Thursday, May 21, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Denny Randell isn’t a household name, except maybe around the households of Frankie Valli, Monti Rock III and others in the music business.
Randell, who grew up in New York, is a songwriter, producer, arranger and performer.
He cowrote several hits for Valli and the Four Seasons, including “Working My Way Back To You,” “Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ’Bout Me)” and “Let’s Hang On!” — featured in “Jersey Boys,” the Broadway hit playing on the Strip at the Palazzo.
He also cowrote Rock’s one hit, “I Wanna Dance Wit’ Choo.” Trivia buffs might remember the ’70s group Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, which was formed by Rock and Bob Crewe, who wrote many of the Four Seasons’ hits.
Randell and his wife, Biddy Schippers — who’s also a songwriter, arranger, producer and performer — recently moved to Las Vegas, hoping to soak up the atmosphere and finish a show.
“I would say it’s between a concert and revue with some theatrical values,” Randell says. “The show will include some of the hits through the years. There will be some back stories about the songs and about my life, things of interest and fun.
“It’s going to be a combination of live and digitally produced music. Some people are excited by live music, others by recordings. I want to bring both together to create an awesome sound.”
He and his wife will be the main performers. The couple teamed up in the ’80s as Randell & Schippers, recording a number of electronic dance songs that became club staples, including “Alice in Wonderland.” A recent remix and video of “Alice” is reintroducing the song to the public.
Meanwhile, they are happy to be Las Vegans.
“We enjoy this town,” Randell says. “It’s such a great place for entertaining. There are so many other folks here who are in the business that I’ve worked with on other projects.”
Among them Rock and Tommy DeVito, one of the founders of the Four Seasons.
Randell’s music roots run deep. In 1965 he produced and cowrote “A Lover’s Concerto,” a pop variation on Bach’s Concerto in G Major, which became a hit for the Toys. Randell produced most of the group’s subsequent recordings.
Randell wrote eight songs for Valli and the Four Seasons and arranged and conducted the session orchestra for several of the group’s albums. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, Randell continued to write songs but also worked as an artists and repertoire representative for several labels, including Epic, RCA, and Frank Zappa’s DiscReet Records. He produced sessions for Tim Buckley and Reuben & the Jets, among others.
In the ’70s he gave in to the disco craze, cowriting the classic “Native New Yorker” for Odyssey and writing “You Keep Me Dancin’ ” for Samantha Sang. Randell also helped write “Christmas in the Stars: The Star Wars Christmas Album,” which marked the recording debut of a teenage Jon Bon Jovi.
In the ’80s he worked with producer Clive Davis and saxophonist Kenny Gorelick, now known as Kenny G.
But it’s the future that excites Randell now, not the past.
“I feel like a kid again since we started working on this show,” he says.
He says he and his wife, who split time between here and Los Angeles, may stay in Vegas when their show is completed.
“I think we’re hooked. We’re becoming regular Vegas people.”