Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, in Hoboken
. He was the child of an ex-boxer
and a domineering, ambitious mother. As a child Sinatra wanted to become a journalist
, but decided to quit school early in order to become a musician
. In 1935 Sinatra was matched with three other singers on a radio show “Major Bowes Amateur Hour
”. Together they formed “The Hoboken Four
” and went on a road show
In 1939 Harry James hired Sinatra to be a vocalist in his band. They recorded “All or nothing at all”, which became a major hit song in 1943. In the same year Sinatra recorded four albums, backed up by a vocal group named “Pied Pipers”. Sinatra had then already left James in order to work in conjunction with Tommy Dorsey, whom he recorded more than 90 songs with. Axel Stordahl, a friend of Dorsey’s, became Sinatra’s chief musical architect. In the same period Sinatra recorded two movies: “Las Vegas Night” and “Ship Ahoy”, which weren’t of much success until the late fifties.
From 1943 onwards Sinatra performed solo, mostly recording romantic ballads. These years are known as Sinatra’s “Columbian years” (Columbia being his record company). By 1952, however, Sinatra was out of energy and took a step back. In 1953 he moved to Capitol Records. This set foot for a new sound: jazzier, heavier, more swing. This has everything to do with the conjunction with band leader Nelson Riddle, a symbiosis with the same magic as for example Miles Davis & Gil Evans. It resulted in the great albums “In The Wee Small Hours” (Capitol ’54) and “Songs for Swingin' Lovers” (Capitol ’55).
In 1961 Sinatra started his own label: “Reprise”. In the following years Sinatra would work together with a great share of jazz artists: Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Quincy Jones amongst others.
In the nineties Sinatra regained some of his fame when he recorded “Duets”, but the true Sinatra-era was over. Sinatra retired in 1995 after years of rumors about his failing health. He died of a heart attack on May 14, 1998.
The miraculous thing about Sinatra was that he never became obtrusive. His music sounds like he walks towards you, makes a small casual gesture, then walks on again.
His Capitol-records eventually offer more solace than artists that push their message through your throat. There are moments in your life that only records like these can offer relief.