Frank Sinatra could not sing on a stage without a microphone.
He was one of the first, like
Bing Crosby, to actually understand the microphone, and perhaps
the first clever exponent of microphone technique. And as a crooner
he was fabulous.
In the 40s he looked,
so stunning, so rakishly thin and good looking. He was also
vulnerable, and I think that was part of his bobbysocks appeal
back then. Unusually, though, he kept that appeal right through
his career. Johnny Ray, for instance, was chased down streets
by screaming hoards of women but by the late 50s his career
Sinatra kind of re-invented
himself in the middle 50s. He had records like 'Come Fly with
Me', 'Songs for Swinging Lovers', that kind of stuff, and was
again the epitome of cool. He used to wear all those lovely
straw hats with the wide brim, narrow lapelled suits, three
button high, and he looked very elegant. I think most of the
people my father's and mother's generation just saw him as Mr
he always sang beneath the note too, and that's fascinating
because he's known as a great singer and everybody says his
phrasing is fantastic, his timing's great, but if you listen
to him it's just under the note, slightly flat. And I don't
know if that's because he wasn't able to pitch or whether this
was an intentional thing, just to make the note a little bluer.
He knew that less
was more when it came to acting. I remember On the Town, where
he was performing with Gene Kelly - you see Kelly, as always,
completely mugging It was almost like saying "Look at me,
look at me, look at me..."
But when they come
out and they're singing "New York New York" and they
take the big finish with the hands out - "....it's a wonderful
town....!" - who are you looking at? You're looking at
Sinatra, 'cos he's just doing so little.
He never seemed to
get shaken by the other actors around him. A lot of recording
artists, or artists that cross over, don't have an easy task
acting, but Sinatra made it his own. I think he must have been
a very clever man - he must have known what worked and how it
worked, and made it work for him.
I think Bing Crosby
might have got a little edgy when Sinatra came on the scene,
because Bing had been around for a long time, established himself
and here came a new kid on the block and this kid was doing
pretty good. I think there was a bit of edginess about that
People did actually
make remarks about how skinny he was, and tried to put him down,
but I think that that came from fear of the interloper coming
in and perhaps taking business away from others. I would imagine
that Sinatra probably got a bit worried about others that followed
him along as well. Cos you never know, do you? It's a fickle
kind of world, and you never know how long you've got that fanbase
for. Or whether it's going to just fade away.
He appealed to men
I think because of his macho kind of lifestyle, this kind of
womanising, hard drinking kind of lifestyle. He always appeared
to be living the life that others wanted to live, and he was
in that sense the first rock star.
A little dangerous
and therefore, you know, we'd quite like to be like that wouldn't
we, you know? Because it's always more interesting to be the
anti-hero. Bing was the kind of good, grown-up Catholic man,
solid kind of citizen, and Sinatra had just that little bit
of kind of hell's kitchen, a touch of New York about him.