The British Frank Sinatra

On December 1st, 1930, Terence Edward Parsons started life in London.  As a young man, he worked in factories, at building sites, and drove buses and trucks, but his real talent was for singing.  That talent started getting recognized during the time he drove a London bus and became known as the singing bus driver.  In fact, the young singer would sometimes take the stage at a local nightspot fresh from work with the London Transport Company, and still in his transport company uniform.  Then, at the age of 26, he got his first big break, becoming a featured vocalist with the BBC Show Band.

After using names including Terry Parson, Terry Fitzgerald and Al Jordan, he came under the guidance of a pianist and mentor who gave him the name that he stayed with from then on, Matt Monro.   

Matt Monro had some minor success in the mid 50’s but it wasn’t until 1960 that his singing career shifted into high gear, around the time he became associated with the Beatles’ producer George Martin.

One of Matt’s first hits was My Kind of Girl, which won him a  British song contest.  A follow-up hit was Softly As I Leave You, also associated with Frank Sinatra.  And soon after, Matt recorded the title song heard in the James Bond film From Russia With Love.  One of his best known songs was Walk Away, which was originally an Austrian song that got English lyrics by Monro’s manager Don Black.  Matt also recorded cover versions of several Beatle songs.

Over the years, Matt Monro sold more than 100 million records in a career that spanned 30 years and brought many comparisons to  Frank Sinatra.  Unfortunately, Matt Monro’s career was cut short when he passed away in 1985 at age 55.  Today, Matt’s son Matt Monro Jr. carries on his dad’s tradition as a fine vocalist.

Matt Monro’s life and body of work is the focus of MattMonro.org.uk, run by Matt’s daughter Michele, who has also written a book on her dad called The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro.  Many Matt Monro videos are available at YouTube.  And tributes to Matt’s fellow crooners Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. are displayed at the home of a popular Frank Sinatra Impersonator.

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Published in: on November 20, 2010 at 3:44 PM  Comments Off on The British Frank Sinatra  

In Other Words

One of Frank Sinatra’s most popular songs actually started out with a different title than the one by which it’s known.  Fly Me to the Moon, released by Frank in 1964 on the album It Might as Well Be Swing, was originally called In Other Words.  Before long, it became known by its first line, fly me to the moon, even though it’s sung only once in the song.  After a few years, the publishers actually changed the title officially.  In Other Words was written by Bart Howard in 1954, ten years before Frank made it his own with a great arrangement by Quincy Jones and the wonderful accompaniment of the Count Basie Orchestra.

The song was first recorded by Kaye Ballard, and later by other artists including Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, and Doris Day.  Tony Bennett also has a version, departing from the Sinatra style by performing the song at a very slow tempo.

Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon is noteworthy for being played in space, and not once, but twice.  First it was played by the astronauts of Apollo 10 on their orbital mission around the moon, and then on the moon itself by astronaut Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 moon landing.  And when Aldrin competed on Dancing With The Stars, guess what song was playing.

As for Fly Me to the Moon’s original title In Other Words, it was actually a logical choice, as that phrase is repeated throughout the song, but then, if the song was known as In Other Words, it might not have made it into space.

See Frank Sinatra singing Fly Me to the Moon on YouTube at Frank Sinatra Tribute, and see the song performed at the home of a Frank Sinatra tribute performer, or “Frank Sinatra Impersonator“.

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 8:13 AM  Leave a Comment  

Roger Moore and Frank Sinatra

Actor Roger Moore, best known to movie audiences as James  Bond, was a friend of Frank Sinatra.  They first met in the 50’s at a Hollywood nightclub.  It was the scene of a charity fund-raiser that Moore was invited to by Warner Brothers, the studio to whom he was under contract as a young actor.

Moore and Sinatra’s paths didn’t cross again until the 60’s when Frank was visiting London and ran into Moore and complimented him on his TV series The Saint.  According to Moore, Frank said The Saint was the best thing on TV, and that he watched it frequently with his wife at the time, Mia Farrow.

Later in life, Sinatra and Moore’s friendship flourished, with many evenings spent together at the Sinatra estate in Rancho Mirage CA.  Moore and his wife at the time Luisa socialized a lot with Frank and Barbara Sinatra.  The gatherings also included Gregory Peck and wife Veronique, Cary and Barbara Grant, and legendary agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar.  Activities included eating great food, drinking fine alcohol, watching movies and enjoying the swimming pool.  Frank had been a swimmer all his life, back to when he used to swim underwater, holding his breath for as long as possible to strengthen his lungs.

Roger Moore has talked about spending many Thanksgivings and Easters with the Sinatras.  He has said that on Easter Sunday, Frank would clear everyone out of the kitchen and cook his favorite dish of spicy meatballs and pasta.  He left only one task to his guests, which was to help choose the wine, from what was apparently one of the best wine cellars in the world.

Roger Moore and his star on the Walk of Fame

One of the highlights of the Frank Sinatra estate in Rancho Mirage CA was Frank’s model train collection that filled one of the bungalows on the property, and there’s a description of it on an earlier post here, dated 5-4-09.  For additional photos of the Sinatra estate, visit the home of a Los Angeles based Frank Sinatra Impersonator.   And while on the Web, visit the YouTube site of this Sinatra Impersonator.

Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 2:38 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Frank Sinatra collectables: Sheet Music

If you’re looking for Frank Sinatra collectables, one of the most available items is vintage sheet music.  On ebay alone, there are currently twelve pages of Sinatra sheet music for sale, and there are many other sources on the Web as well.  Among the best known Sinatra titles, you can find copies of collectable sheet music for songs like Witchcraft, All The Way, Young At Heart, Strangers In The Night, My Way and New York, New York 

And then there are also many copies out there of lesser known songs like Paper Doll, Lily Belle, I Couldn’t Sleep A Wink Last Night, A Lovely Way To Spend An Evening and The Huckle-Buck.  All feature different photos of Frank Sinatra on the cover.

One sheet music displays two Sinatras, father and daughter, in a playful pose.  It’s  Frank and Nancy on the cover of the sheet music for their number one 60’s duet, Something Stupid

Today’s sheet music doesn’t have much color or artwork on the covers, unlike the vintage kind that had pictures of the artists and more elaborate designs, making them suitable for framing.  Of course, some of the vintage sheet music copies for sale are beat up or torn, and may have the name of a previous owner written on them, but they’re priced accordingly. 

For the higher budget, one site displays a copy of My Way autographed by FS that’s listed at a price of $1,777. 95.   Well, at least they offer free shipping. 

Witchcraft and Something Stupid from the collection of Monty Aidem, who performs a Frank Sinatra Impersonator Tribute show.

See a performance of Something Stupid at the YouTube Frank Sinatra Tribute.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 9:52 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Actor Lee J. Cobb’s benefactor, Frank Sinatra

Lee J. Cobb and Marlon Brando

1954’s Academy Award winning best picture of the year was On the Waterfront, for which its star Marlon Brando also won the best actor award.  Brando’s co-stars included Rod Steiger, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint, and as the film’s memorable bad guy, actor Lee J. Cobb.

Lee J. Cobb started making movies in 1934 and continued for 42 years, through 1976.  Among his many film credits were 12 Angry Men, The Three Faces of Eve, Exodus, How The West Was Won, and The Exorcist

A low point in the life of Lee J. Cobb came when he was hounded by the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee investigating what it called communist subversion in the movie industry in the late 40’s and early 50’s.  Cobb had been named as a supposed communist, but refused to testify before the committee.  During this time, his wife suffered a mental breakdown and had to be institutionalized, and Cobb’s career nosedived.  Finally, he gave in and appeared before the committee.  Shortly after, he suffered a heart attack.

During the ordeal, Cobb credited Frank Sinatra with saving his life.  When no studio would hire Cobb, Frank got him a part in his film The Miracle of The Bells.  In addition, knowing that Cobb was broke, Frank paid his hospital bills, and then opened his home to Lee until renting him a luxurious apartment.  And what makes this generosity even more noteworthy is that Frank did all this for someone he barely even knew. 

In addition to his film roles, Lee J.  Cobb also created the stage role of Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman.  And although he was known as a great dramatic actor, he was equally adept at comedy, making his mark as James Coburn’s befuddled boss in Our Man Flint and In Like Flint.  And in 1963, he co-starred in another comedy, appearing in the film version of Neil Simon’s first play, Come Blow Your Horn.  It was a part he probably enjoyed.  He co-starred with Frank Sinatra, playing Frank’s father, in spite of the fact that in real life, he was only four years older than Frank.   

From the Frank Sinatra Impersonator Blog at WordPress and the Frank Sinatra Impersonator website.

Published in: on March 14, 2010 at 8:58 PM  Leave a Comment  
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A Frank Sinatra Concert Opener

If you attended a Frank Sinatra performance during most of his later years, you probably saw him open the show with I’ve Got The World On A String.  It was a great sentiment to get things underway.  The song also happened to be Sinatra’s first collaboration with his master arranger Nelson Riddle.

The song was originally heard in 1932 as part of the Cotton Club Parade, a musical production at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club, and it was introduced by Cab Calloway and Bing Crosby.  Over the years, it was recorded by artists including Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee.  More recently it was recorded by Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow and Michael Buble.  And Celine Dion, an admirer of F.S.,  performed it in her Las Vegas show from 2002 until 2007.

And, needless to say, it’s still a great opener when you’re presenting a Frank Sinatra Tribute show for the audience as a Frank Sinatra Impersonator.

Published in: on November 29, 2009 at 8:20 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Becoming Frank Sinatra’s Opening Act

Tom Dreesen

Tom Dreesen

In 1982, comedian Tom Dreesen was appearing with Smokey Robinson at Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe while Frank Sinatra was working a few doors away at Harrah’s.  Tom wanted a chance to see Frank’s show up-close, so he called over to Harrah’s, where he had worked with  Sammy Davis Jr. and asked if he could watch the show from backstage.

When he arrived, he was called over by Harrah’s executive Holmes Hendricksen, who was standing with another man.  Hendricksen said “Tommy, this is Mickey Rudin”, who Tom recognized as Frank’s lawyer and manager.  Then Hendricksen said “Mickey, this is Tom Dreesen.  I think Tom would make a great opening act for Frank”.  Rudin, to be funny, said “Hey kid, if I gave you a week with Frank, would you want more than $50,000?”  Tom said “Let me put it this way, Mr. Rudin.  If you gave me a week with Frank, would you want more than $50,000?”  Rudin burst out laughing and said “I like this kid”. 

A few days later, Tom’s manager got a call, and before long, Tom was preceding Frank on stage in Atlantic City.  Following his second performance, Frank invited Tom to join him and his wife Barbara for dinner.  In the middle of the meal, Frank put down his knife and fork and said “I like your material and I like your style.  I’d like you to do a few other dates with me if you’re interested”.   

Dreesen Sinatra250  And that led to an exciting job that lasted fourteen years, and a warm personal relationship that lasted  until Frank’s passing in 1998.   Tom and Frank are pictured together here.

For this writer and Frank Sinatra Impersonator, it’s great to have a friend like Tom Dreesen, a Sinatra confidant, and one of America’s finest comedians.

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 1:01 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Performing With A Michael Jackson Impersonator

Joby Rogers on stage as Michael Jackson

Joby Rogers on stage as Michael Jackson

 Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson never performed together, but a Florida audience saw a Frank Sinatra Tribute and a Michael Jackson Tribute on the same show not long ago when I performed my Frank Sinatra Tribute along with Joby Rogers as Michael Jackson.

Joby is a fine performer and has Michael’s look, energy and moves.  He got the audience involved and they loved it.  The combination of Frank and Michael was not a bad mix for a gathering with different age groups and tastes.  For audiences that will miss Michael, Joby will provide a very credible and entertaining re-creation.  

From Monty Aidem, pictured below.

Performing at the former Frank Sinatra Estate

Performing at the former Frank Sinatra Estate

Published in: on June 26, 2009 at 6:28 PM  Comments Off on Performing With A Michael Jackson Impersonator  

Frank Sinatra – The Way You Look Tonight

Sin. Osc. Songs

An often requested song at my Frank Sinatra Impersonator show is The Way You Look Tonight.  It originally goes back to 1936 when it was sung by Fred Astaire in the movie Swing Time, for which it won the Academy Award as that year’s best song.  It was also a 60’s hit with nice harmonies by The Lettermen, and has been recorded many times over the years by various artists.

It was recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1964 with a chart by Frank’s favorite arranger Nelson Riddle, and popularized for a new generation in 1989 when that version was featured in a TV commercial for Michelob Beer.  Though that exposure generated many fan requests for the song, The Way You Look Tonight was never performed in concert by Frank Sinatra.

Published in: on June 2, 2009 at 3:41 AM  Leave a Comment  
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Frank Sinatra, Model Train Collector

Frank Sinatra's model train layout

Frank Sinatra's model train layout

From this Frank Sinatra Impersonator in Los Angeles:   I had the great experience of performing for a small elite group at the Frank Sinatra estate in Rancho Mirage CA, known to many as “The Compound”.  That same night, I was given a wonderful private tour of the property, where  everything is preserved the way it was when the Sinatras lived there. 

In addition to a main house and beautiful pool, there is a separate theater room and several guest houses named after Sinatra songs, identified with plaques in front of each one.  But one of the most memorable buildings is the Train Building, where Frank’s extensive model train collection is still set up.  Miniature tracks, train cars, buildings and tiny people fill the room on a huge table, surrounded by shelves on all four walls holding more train cars and other accessories.  On a hook on the wall hangs a bright red hat with an emblem and shiny black visor.  The whole collection is valued at more than a million dollars, and one of the most cherished pieces is a locomotive that was a gift to F.S. from the Vatican.  There’s every possible detail on the elaborate layout, it’s quite a sight, and as a matter of fact, it still runs.

Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 12:33 AM  Leave a Comment  
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