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Glimpses from Frank Sinatra's life, career on his 100th birth anniversary

On Frank Sinatra's 100th birth anniversary, Mumbai-based RJ and filmmaker Fali R Singara, who happens to be an ardent fan and follower of the music legend, shares anecdotes and rare memorabilia from his collection

Before Elvis, The Beatles or Michael Jackson, there was Francis Albert Sinatra — the world's first Pop music icon. Named the Entertainer of The Century, his career spanned an astounding six decades.

A woman walks by a street painting of Frank Sinatra in Hollywood on August 15, 2013 in  Los Angeles, California. PIC/AFP
A woman walks by a street painting of Frank Sinatra in Hollywood on August 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. PIC/AFP

'The Voice' scored his first hit in 1939, and was still making millions selling records when he retired in 1995. December 12, 2015 marks the legend's 100th birthday. The milestone is being commemorated across the world with exhibitions, new music, video and book releases and a host of tribute concerts.

Also read: Lesser-known facts about Frank Sinatra and other international musical icons

From a vast collection of Sinatra memorabilia, here are some interesting things that fans would appreciate.

Treasures inside the inlay booklet
An inlay card (24 pages) that came along with Sinatra: A Man & His Music Signed Display, offers a wealth of information for Sinatra fans.

Treasures

Packed with rare photos and facts on the icon's life and times, here are two sections from the inlay booklet reproduced.

Treasures

(Above) A photo of a young Sinatra; (Top, clockwise): Sinatra with JF Kennedy, with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin, a solo silhoutte, and with Sammy Davis and Count Bassie.
Pics courtesy: Reprise Records, 1965
NOTE: Currently unavailable

Sinatra A Man & His Music Signed Display
Released in 1965 to mark his 50th birthday, A Man And His Music topped the charts worldwide and won the 1967 Grammy Award for Album of the Year.

A close-up of Frank Sinatra’s signature that is part of this display
A close-up of Frank Sinatra's signature that is part of this display

The Holy Grail for a Sinatra fan is a special limited edition of this album made in a slipcase with a 3D metal artwork cover and a special inlay book.

Each copy was numbered and personally signed by Sinatra and meant only for close friends and associates. The signed edition I own was handed out as a prize by Sinatra at his 50th birthday party in Palm Springs, California.
Courtesy: Reprise Records, 1965

Also read: A special range of whiskey favoured by Frank Sinatra was launched last year

Songs For Swingin' Lovers Coloured Vinyl
My appreciation for Sinatra's music started when I was seven years old. If you want to build a Sinatra collection — start with 'Songs For Swingin' Lovers, an upbeat collaboration with Nelson Riddle from 1956 that influenced generations of singers from Paul McCartney to U2.

Songs

Bono later did 'I've Got You Under My Skin' from here as a duet with Sinatra himself. Some of the best-known Sinatra standards are on this, and gave 'Old Blue Eyes' his first No. 1 on the UK album charts. Coloured Sinatra vinyls are much sought after, and this extremely rare red pressing was issued only in Japan.

Ocean's 11 Movie Poster
Sinatra starred in over 50 movies in Hollywood and was honoured with three Oscars as well. His most iconic role would be Danny Ocean in Ocean's 11.

It even inspired Dev Anand (a big Sinatra fan) for his role in Jewel Thief. The first of the Rat Pack movies — Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Lawford team up with Sinatra to pull off the heist of the century. Three decades on, it was remade with George Clooney playing Ocean, and Brad Pitt doing Martin's role. Original movie posters are among the most collectible among Sinatra fans, and worth anywhere from Rs 40,000 to Rs 2 lakh in today's market.

Maestro Zubin Mehta remembers Sinatra

In a recent radio interview that this writer did with maestro Zubin Mehta, the Mumbai-born acclaimed music conductor reminisced on his close friendship with Sinatra.

Zubin Mehta

One of the best-known collaborations between the two was in 1974, when Sinatra performed his set while Mehta led the 107-piece Los Angeles Philharmonic. “Working with Sinatra was simple,” he recalled, adding, “I thought it would be complicated but he was a fine musician. I tried to follow him in a sort of classical way, and he said, “You play your thing and I’ll fit myself in.” We are not used to this in Classical music. I did what he asked me to do, and it turned out perfect in the end.” Speaking on his birth centenary celebrations, he said, “Frank Sinatra is an absolute classic.

I can listen to an opera by Mozart without tiring myself, and I can also listen to Frank Sinatra songs. He will live on into eternity more than any Pop star I can think off. Recently, I’ve seen some film biographies of his life, which had a lot of ups and downs; his music tells of his suffering through his emotional stages. His songs are an enormous album of work that will never die.”


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