Frank Sinatra

  • Singer/Crooner born in 1915 in Hoboken New Jersey. Died in 1998 of a heart attack.
  • Sinatra was a high school dropout, working odd jobs and at a shipyard. In his youth, he loved the big band sound, and when he received a ukulele at his 15th birthday, he performed at family events. He sang at local clubs, and he took speech lessons to help develop his vocal range. He learned music by ear, and he never learned to read music. When he was 19, he landed in a vocal group called The 3 Flashes – they allowed him in because he owned a car and could chauffeur for the group. Now known as The Hoboken Four, they performed in an amateur show and won first prize – a 6 month contract to perform throughout the U.S.
  • In 1938, Sinatra got a job as a singing waiter, which connected him to a New York radio station. This led to performances on the radio. In March 1939, he recorded his first song, Our Love, and in June, bandleader Harry James signed Sinatra to a 2 year performance contract. He performed and recorded with James, reaching the Hot 100 chart 4 times. In November 1939, James allowed him to leave to join Tommy Dorsey’s band as the lead singer. His first performance with Dorsey was in Chicago, singing Stardust, and Dorsey became a father figure for Sinatra. They recorded together for over 2 years, and their recordings were very successful, with 40 songs charting and 4 songs reaching #1. Sinatra became the most popular male singer in America, particularly appealing to teenage girls.
  • After Dorsey allowed him to make some solo recordings, Sinatra was determined to start a solo career. However, his contract with Dorsey gave Dorsey 43% of Sinatra’s lifetime earnings. They went to court, and in August 1942, a settlement was reached – rumors were that Sinatra’s mobster godfather forced Dorsey to cooperate.
  • Sinatramania became rampant after his legendary opening performance at the Paramount Theater in New York on December 30, 1942. He had an 8 week run at the theater, and by the end, there were thousands of Sinatra fan clubs throughout America. His first solo singles were released in 1942 – by the end of the decade, he had 65 top 40 singles, include 6 topping the chart.
  • As he entered the 50s, his career was in slump. He had slipped to fourth place in DownBeat magazine’s annual list of the most popular singers, and his concerts were poorly attended. His publicist died from a heart attack and his divorce was finalized. Now in financial difficulty, he began a residency in Las Vegas.
  • The revival of his career began in 1953 with Sinatra’s co-starring role in the film From Here To Eternity. Prior to the film, Sinatra had performed in 14 other films as early as 1941. From Here To Eternity won the Best Picture Oscar, and Sinatra won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Sinatra signed a new recording contract, and he worked with Nelson Riddle as his arranger and conductor. He released 16 albums between 1954 and 1962 – 3 of them topped the album chart. He had 31 singles in the top 40, including #1/#2 hits Young At Heart, All the Way and Learnin’ the Blues. 
  • In 1960, Sinatra started his own record label, Reprise Records, earning him the nickname “Chairman of the Board.” He released 34 albums on the label over 20 years, with A Man and His Music and Strangers In the Night each reaching platinum status. His most popular songs were released in 1966 and 1967 – Strangers In the Night and Something Stupid (a duet with his daughter Nancy) each reached #1, and another signature song, That’s Life, peaked at #4.
  • The 60 decade also was Sinatra’s Rat Pack years. Together with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop, they appeared in films and on stage, selling out shows in Las Vegas. Six live albums featuring the Rat Pack have been released, all but one after Sinatra’s death.
  • His last charting single is likely his most famous song – Theme from New York, New York. It was released in 1980. The film New York, New York was released in 1977, and in the film, Liza Minnelli performs the song. Sinatra recorded it in 1979 for his album Trilogy: Past Present Future. Sinatra’s version reached #32 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • His final 2 albums were released in 1993 and 1994 – Duets and Duets II. These were electronically assembled duets between Sinatra and other singers – Sinatra was not actually joined by his duet partner during the recordings. His duet partners ranged from a diverse group of artists – from Aretha Franklin to Gloria Estefan to Bono to Willie Nelson. The first album became his best selling album, certified 3x platinum.
  • In total, Sinatra released 59 studio albums and 297 singles in his career. He sold over 150 million records worldwide, putting him in the top 30 all time. He was an 11 time Grammy winner, and he received the Grammy Legend Award and the Grammy Trustees Award. He received numerous honors, including a Kennedy Center Honors award, a Congressional Medal of Honor, and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. He even has an asteroid named after him.
  • Frank Sinatra is undeniably a musical legend. He is considered by some to be the greatest singer of the 20th century. Here is a 1994 performance by “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” of one of my favorites, My Way.

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