You gotta love livin’, baby, ‘cause dyin’ is a pain in the ass. ~ Frank Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998)
I have recently delved into the incredible fascinating life of Frank Sinatra by reading a newer biography Frank: The Voice by James Kaplan. Most everyone surely knows some of the famous crooner’s history of a fast life in Hollywood Vegas where he formed the Rat Pack fraternized with celebrities statesmen including John F. Kennedy Marilyn Monroe. The FBI kept Sinatra under surveillance for almost five decades beginning in the 1940s due to his alleged personal professional links with organized crime.
Frank pursued his musical career in the big b swing era with Harry James Tommy Dorsey. It wasn’t an easy road but with shear grit, a renowned pestering arrogance determination, Sinatra became a successful solo artist by the mid-1940s, rejecting the popular big b domination where singers were only part of the b rarely made it on their own.
The thing that influenced him most he said was the way Tommy played his trombone. “It was my idea to make my voice work in the same way as a trombone or violin – not sounding like them, but “playing” the voice like those instrumentalists,” Sinatra explained in a biography.
His first idols were Billie Holiday Big Crosby whom he imitated for many years until he found his own voice surpassed Crosby’s fame. He was always a good singer but it wasn’t until an acting coach encouraged him to formulate his own phrasing, timing breathe control as well as actually feel the words the songwriters wrote that he became a great singer.
Sinatra seems to have developed many voices from the smooth, gentle crooner of I’ll Never Smile Again with Tommy Dorsey to the bruised, tough, but vulnerable romantic of In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning eventually the swaggering playboy of Come Fly with Me. He is also the persistant hero of anthems like My Way, A Very Good Year New York, New York. “Throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note every word I sing – if I respect the song. If I cannot project this to a listener, I fail,” Sinatra said.
And project them he did. He knocked the sox off teenage girls who screamed fainted, making him into an instant idol of the bobby soxers, playing the packed Paramount Theatre in New York City for weeks at a time. Although not particularly smitten with the adult high society of New York he knew to make it big he had to appeal to them as well he found that fame at a small nightclub down the street where, once again, the female audience fell in love with him.
He explained his passion on the stage: “You can be the most artistically perfect performer in the world, but an audience is like a broad – if you’re indifferent, Endsville.”
He had to go to a great deal of trouble it’s reported that even the Mob got involved when he left the Tommy Dorsey b to sign with Capitol Records released several critically lauded albums (In the Wee Small Hours, Songs for Swingin’ Lovers, Come Fly with Me, Only the Lonely Nice ‘n’ Easy).
Amazingly, the brazenly cocky kid from Hoboken,New Jersey who lived a life of violent emotional contradictions was also able to build a successful career as a film actor, winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in From Here to Eternity, a nomination for Best Actor for The Man with the Golden Arm impressive recognition for The Manchurian C idate. He also starred in such musicals as High Society, Pal Joey, Guys Dolls On the Town.
Fortunately the world can still share in his talents through an incredible legacy of songs, movies a magnum of intriguing stories from biographers.
Despite several marriages (Ava Gardner the most famous troubled), sexual appetite connections to the underworld, Sinatra was well-known for his human fairness stalwart support of civil rights. President Ronald Reagan said that “art was the shadow of humanity” that Sinatra had “spent his life casting a magnificent powerful shadow.” Frank Sinatra, on the other h , would say: “Basically, I’m for anything that gets you through the night – be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels.”
by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher