The Son Got the Best of His Father Frank

You don’t hear much about Frank Sinatra Jr. Nat Hentoff wrote a piece praising the son of the famous singer in last night’s WSJ. I learned that the younger Frank as become as beloved to his musicians as his dad did, and about an honor that was bestowed upon him that makes a grammy look like, well, not as much.

Sinatra of course, grew up around big bands and today is thought to be one of the few singers with a deep depth of experience with the genre, says Hentoff. “There are even fewer with such real-feeling for the lyrics of a song and such a knack for investing a song with style and personality.”

When his dad was getting old, a year or so before he died, he sent his son Frank Jr out to find songs ‘made up of ballads that swing, all songs I’ve never sung before.’ One song that the elder Sinatra especially liked was “The People That You Never Get To Love,” by Rupert Holmes. Age caught up with the father, and he never did record it. So every time he performs Frank Jr sings this song with the Nelson Riddle arrangement.

Hentoff asked Frank why he didn’t record more, and was told there’s not that much demand. Instead he keeps busy touring with a 38 piece big band in big casinos and at state fairs. He remembers his father taking him to Vegas and becoming entranced by the spirit of the late-night big band sessions. Like his father, he is known for rigorous rehearsals before a gig.

In 1988, Sinatra was asked by his father to be the conductor and musical director for his last years. The senior had outlived all of his conductors, and he was frail, and needed someone he could trust. But performing was so important to him that it would keep him alive longer to be able to do it. The son put his own career on hold to be there for dad.