Bob Gaudio, who co-wrote the song with his future wife Judy Parker, originally wanted the song’s title to be “December 5th, 1933,” as that was the repeal of Prohibition. While that was no doubt quite a night, Frankie Valli nixed the idea. So Parker forwarded the date to December 1963 and changed the subject matter to a remembrance of a young man’s first love affair. The song was released on The Four Seasons’ 1975 album Who Loves You. In 1976, it was released as a single, backed with “Slip Away.” It went to #1 in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. It was #2 in New Zealand; #3 in Australia, Belgium, and The Netherlands; and #6 in Norway.
There have been re-mixes of the song. Dutch DJ Ben Liebrand did so in 1988 and 1993. The latter re-release spent 27 weeks on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. There have been numerous cover versions, including ones by The Fatback Band, Change, Banda Vallarta Show, Clock, Vitamin C, Wyclef Jean, John Barrowman, and more. A version in French titled “Cette année-lá” was successful as well.
On the album were Frankie Valli (vocals), Don Ciccone (bass, guitar, vocals), Gerry Polci (drums, vocals), Lee Shapiro (keyboards, string and horn arrangements), John Palva (lead guitar, vocals), Bob Gaudio (producers, keyboards, piano, vocals), and Joe Long (bass guitar, vocals). The lineup has changed over the years, but Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons continue to tour and perform.