Big Bands and Big Names

Posted in Entertainment on November 8, 2010 by franksinatratribute

The Tommy Dorsey Band in 1941. In the back row are the vocalists, including on the far right, Frank Sinatra.

On stage behind the great vintage vocalists  in Las Vegas showrooms and everywhere else for that matter was a Big Band.  Throughout the 30’s, 40’s and on, big bands played all across the U.S. and helped introduce vocalists like Frank Sinatra, among many others.  Now, the era of big bands and the performers who rose to stardom during the big band heyday is preserved at a website called Craig’s Big Bands and Big Names

A feature of the site is the extensive collection of actual revues of the big band musicians and vocalists that made big band history.  Included are revues of Frank Sinatra in 1943 and Sammy Davis Jr. in 1959, plus revues of other performers like Judy Garland, Nat King Cole, Frankie Laine and Tony Bennett.  And there’s a great discussion of Dean Martin’s career and incredible appeal.  The archive even covers comedians like Joe E. Lewis, Jerry Lewis and  Danny Thomas. 

Current news of interest to big band fans is featured on the home page, which recently acknowledged the passing of singers Eddie Fisher and Lena Horne and posted a reminder about the 35th annual Glenn Miller festival.

And still more unique resources are available at the links page of  Craig’s Big Bands and Big Names, one site that’s well worth visiting. 

A Night Out With Frank Sinatra

Posted in Entertainment with tags , on September 5, 2010 by franksinatratribute

Tom Dreesen

Frank Sinatra’s longest running opening act, comedian Tom Dreesen preceded Frank on stage for the last fourteen years of Frank’s long career as a concert headliner.  But off-stage, Tom also spent a lot of time with Frank, where it was often the two of them alone.  According to Tom, late at night they would drive through the desert in Palm Springs or stop at a small nightspot.  One night, they were at a bar when a woman walked in and asked if there was a jukebox.  Frank said “No, but I’ll be happy to sing for you”.  The woman said “No thanks” and left.  Turning to Frank, Tom said “I don’t think she knew who you were”.  And Frank said “Maybe she did”.   

Tom Dreesen has written a book along with his former comedy partner Tim Reid, who’s starred on several TV series including WKRP in Cincinnati.    The two of them were partnered with writer Ron Rapoport for the book, called  Tim and Tom, An American Comedy in Black and White.  It tells of Tim and Tom’s beginnings as  America’s first Black and White comedy team, and it’s an excellent book, which also includes a few stories of Tom’s experiences with Frank Sinatra. 

For more information on Tim and Tom, visit the Tim and Tom Website.

For a story from Tom Dreesen about the last song Frank Sinatra performed on stage, visit the home of Frank Sinatra Tribute artist, Monty Aidem.

Frank Sinatra and the Concept Album

Posted in Music with tags on July 17, 2010 by franksinatratribute

Starting in the 50’s, Frank Sinatra embraced the notion of putting out albums that had a unifying theme.  And he continued the idea over the years with many great collections based on a single concept.  As a result, he may be more associated with the concept album than any other recording artist.

Early Sinatra concept album examples include Songs For Young Lovers and Swing Easy.  But the first full Sinatra concept album was In The Wee Small Hours Of the Morning, released in 1955.  Its songs were all specifically recorded for the album and like the title song, they were all ballads about lost love and loneliness.

The list of Frank Sinatra concept albums is extensive, with many sorrowful ballad collections like Where Are You, No One Cares, All Alone, Point Of No Return, and Only The Lonely.  That last one had an album cover featuring a tearful Sinatra that won a grammy for album cover art.

Many more Sinatra concept albums came along, including uptempo releases like Come Fly With Me, Come  Dance With Me, Songs For Swingin’ Lovers, A Swingin’ Affair, and Sinatra Swingin’ Session.   And then there was Nice n Easy, The Concert Sinatra and an ambitious project called Trilogy.

Probably the most specific of the Sinatra concept albums would be Moonlight Sinatra, which only contained songs with the word moon in the title, although it didn’t include Fly Me  To The Moon.

One of the least known Sinatra concept albums is Watertown, which actually tells a story.  It didn’t exactly become part of the mainstream, but definitely has its fans.

Later on, an inspired collection of songs sung from a mature point of view was called September Of My Years.  And of course, there was the great collaboration with one of Brazil’s finest singer/composers, which resulted in an album called simply Francis Albert Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim.  And the two of them can be seen performing together in a relaxed setting on a Sinatra TV special.

A discussion of these great concept albums is definitely relevant to a Frank Sinatra Tribute, whose contribution is kept alive by the incredible library of recordings he left, and even by all the performers who continue to perform his songs, as Frank Sinatra tribute artists or Sinatra impersonators, as they’re also known.

For those who want to catch up on most of the titles above, you might want to pick up a CD box set of Frank Sinatra concept albums available from Capitol Records, where most of them originated.

A Merry Little Christmas

Posted in Music with tags , on December 24, 2009 by franksinatratribute

Nancy and Frank at Christmas

Along with The  Christmas Song and White Christmas, one of the most popular Christmas songs of all time is Frank Sinatra’s recording of  Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, originally introduced in 1944 by Judy Garland in the movie musical Meet Me In St. Louis

The song was about to undergo some changes in 1957, as Frank was putting together a Christmas album.  He liked the song but considered the  lyrics somewhat depressing, especially for an album called A Jolly Christmas.  So before he would record it, he influenced the songwriter Hugh Martin to alter the lyrics.  For example, the line that declared that this Christmas “may be your last” and “next year we may all be living in the past” became “let your heart be light, next year all our troubles will be out of sight”.  And with a few more changes, the song made it onto Frank’s Christmas album.  And it was that revised version that ended up as the most familiar version to audiences worldwide, recorded by almost every major vocalist over the years.

Oddly enough, the brightened-up Sinatra version found its way into a setting that would have to be considered pretty depressing, when it was used during a war movie called  The Victors, starring George Hamilton, George Peppard and Eli Wallach.  One segment of the film concerns Eddie Slovik, the only U.S. deserter executed during World War II.  And the Sinatra recording of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is heard during the execution scene. 

Merry Christmas from the Frank Sinatra Tribute Blog and Frank Sinatra Tribute Show website.

A Portrait of Frank Sinatra

Posted in Entertainment with tags on November 19, 2009 by franksinatratribute

An artist in California named Bruni Sablan has created over 1300 paintings of legendary music stars and musicians in what she calls her Jazz Masters Series.  Born in Brazil to a Sicilian Italian father and Lebanese mother, Ms. Sablan is a fine artist who was introduced to jazz by her father, and has also done some singing herself.

Among her portrait subjects are Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, and even Michael Jackson.  But perhaps the subject who has inspired the most portraits is Frank Sinatra.  Each portrait of F.S. is named for one of the songs he performed, like the one above, which is called Everything Happens To Me.

To see all of the Sinatra portraits along with the many other works of Bruni Sablan, visit her website, and for a performer re-creating Sinatra on stage, visit the home of an established Frank Sinatra Tribute Performer, often known as a Frank Sinatra Impersonator.

The artist, Bruni Sablan

Frank Sinatra And The Movies He Didn’t Do

Posted in Entertainment with tags on July 20, 2009 by franksinatratribute

Sinatra EternitySome of Frank Sinatra’s acclaimed movie roles included The Man With The Golden Arm, The Manchurian Candidate, Von Ryan’s Express, and of course, From Here To Eternity, for which he won the academy award for best supporting actor.  But there are a number of other well-known films in which he might have starred but didn’t for various reasons.

For one, he originally signed on to play the lead in Carousel in 1956 opposite Shirley Jones but he walked off the set on the first day of filming after he found out that they were going to shoot each scene twice, with two different lens sizes, and was quoted as saying “I was paid to make one movie, not two”.  He was replaced by Gordon MacRae.

In 1957, he turned down the lead in The Pajama Game, which would have teamed him up with singer Janis Paige, who played the role on Broadway.  As a result, Paige lost the part to Doris  Day, who was considered a bigger box-office draw.

Sinatra was considered for the role of Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl in 1968.  This was said to have been vetoed by Barbra Streisand, who ended up playing opposite Omar Sharif.

According to imdb.com, Frank was the first choice to play the title role in Dirty Harry in 1971, but broke his finger before shooting started and had to bow out of the production, which launched a film series for Clint Eastwood.

Finally, Frank turned down the lead role in Death Wish in 1974.  It was given to Charles Bronson, and was the role that made him an international star.

From The Frank Sinatra Tribute Blog and FrankTribute.com

Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson

Posted in Entertainment with tags , on June 26, 2009 by franksinatratribute

MJFS

You might not think Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson had much in common other than superstardom.  But in addition to that, they both enjoyed the creative involvement of another music superstar, Quincy Jones.  The composer, arranger and producer has worked with many top stars but may be most associated with Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson and is relevant to any Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra Tribute.

Quincy met Michael on the film The Wiz, and ended up producing the best-selling album of all time, Michael’s Thriller, and another mega success,  Bad.  For Frank Sinatra, Quincy did the charts for the album It Might As Well Be Swing with the Count Basie Orchestra, which included the hit song Fly Me To The Moon.  Quincy was also seen out front as conductor for Frank on many occasions, including at Frank’s live album Sinatra At The Sands, and a televised benefit concert that took place in St. Louis and featured Frank, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., with Johnny Carson filling in for Joey Bishop.  At that show, which has been released on DVD, Johnny even sings, and pretty well. 

Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones