To say that Frank Sinatra is an American icon is true, but even that is an understatement.
The skinny kid from Hoboken, New Jersey was self-described as a “a saloon singer.” Frank was brash, hip, opinionated and forceful, yet elegant, grateful to those who helped him, and was easily the most versatile and imitated singer of the 20th Century. Frank would tell a story with each song, and sell that story like it was his own.
After surviving being America’s first teen idol in the 1940’s,and starring in many successful films (mainly musicals), he suffered a huge career slump. In the early 1950’s he was considered washed up, until he signed with Capitol Records and took a chance on a song that no-one else wanted to sing, “Young At Heart.”
Thanks to arranger Nelson Riddle, many hit singles and successful concept albums, plus an Oscar win for his role in “From Here To Eternity”, Frank was back to stay. Blazing thru the early 1960’s with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, and others in his “Rat Pack,” Frank and the boys virtually created Las Vegas as it is today. A strong Civil Rights activist, he wouldn’t appear anywhere that discriminated against his best buddy Sammy.
My mother was a huge Sinatra fan, and one of my first remembrances of experiencing the thing that would ultimately shape my life, (MUSIC) was hearing, “Hey jealous Lover” and “All The Way” blasting out of Mom’s very hip stereo console.
Although Frank was not of my generation, he spoke to ALL future generations with his tales of love and heartbreak, success and failure. Frank never forgot he came from Hoboken, New Jersey. Ironic that out of hundreds of hits, his best known song is probably “New York, New York.” A place he only stared at from across the river as a child.
This Saturday night, Sinatra will turn 100 years old, and Frank Sinatra Junior will conduct the orchestra, as he did for his Dad for the final two decades of his incomparable career at The Saban Theater. A big celebration has also gone on all week, with a huge CBS/ Grammy special last Sunday night, where today’s stars took a stab at singing Sinatra classics.
While many fell short, the best performances were by Frank’s pal Tony Bennett, (who’s still got it),Harry Connick Jr, Celine Dion, Seth Mac Farlane, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga,and (surprisingly) Country Rock singer Zac Brown. The Grammy Museum in downtown Los Angeles currently has an excellent exhibit covering Sinatra’s entire career, which runs thru February.
The genius of Frank’s music still holds up today, as there has really been no entertainer since.