by James DeFrances
Frank Sinatra Jr., beloved son of superstar singer Frank Sinatra died suddenly Wednesday evening March 16th, in Daytona Beach Florida while on tour. He was 72. Growing up in a celebrity household Sinatra Jr. or “Frankie” as his confidantes called him got to experience many of the legends of Hollywood’s golden age right in his own home.
Frankie’s love affair with show business and especially music was apparent from a young age. While in his teens he recorded for his father’s new record label, Reprise. He appeared alongside his sisters Nancy and Tina in television variety shows and on the prominent 1967 Sinatra Family Christmas Album.His own solo career in the 1970’s and 1980’s found him recording with many of the legendary big bands that his father had previously worked with including Tommy Dorsey, Billy May and Nelson Riddle.
“In addition to his formidable singing skills, Frank Sinatra Jr was also an accomplished songwriter who wrote both melody and lyrics,” explains author and producer Charles L. Granata.” In 1987 Frank Sinatra asked his son to be his musical director and conductor as he traveled the world on tour. This musical relationship lasted until Frank Sr.’s final performance in Palm Springs in 1995. Granata added: “I’ve never seen anyone as obsessed with perfection in the live setting as Frank Sinatra Jr. It was something to marvel at – and it made a real difference in the sound.”
Near the end of his father’s career they recorded a duet together on the song “My Kind of Town (Chicago is)” for the 1995 Grammy Award winning album Duets II. In recent years Sinatra Jr. has continued to carry his father’s torch into the new millennium regularly performing his show Sinatra sings Sinatra complete with a full orchestra and the original arrangements.
Sinatra Jr.’s close personal friend and head of security Merrill Kelem said: “We were like brothers. Frankie asked me to come back out of retirement to do these shows with him in Florida and I’m glad I did.” Kelem spoke highly of the staff for what became the final tour, the dream team so to speak consisted of road manager Joey Piccuri, tour manager Isaac Tamborino and conductor and musical director Terry Woodson. Kelem said: “We were one fine tuned engine.” Also this week at the McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, California close friend and fellow vocalist Steve Tyrell who had previously shared studio and stage with Frankie, said that he dedicated his show Saturday night in his honor.
Details regarding a memorial service have yet to be determined but friends anticipate that there will be a celebration of his life within the month in Los Angeles.