Frank Sinatra Ultimate Troubadour

Frank Sinatra Ultimate Troubadour  by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions.

Frank Sinatra said he heard “symphonies from the universe” in his head as a kid and thought about singing for a living as young as 11-years-old. 

He called Bing Crosby the Will Rogers of song.

But it was a Bing Crosby concert in the summer of 1935 at Loew’s Journal Square in downtown New Jersey that changed Frank’s life.

‘He was the first troubadour that any of us had heard.  After seeing him that night, I knew I had to be a singer,” he said.  More than just a crooner, Bing told a story with each song.  His style was relaxed and casual.  He made the audience feel like he was singing directly to each one of them.  Frank knew he could do that. 

He called Bing the Will Rogers of song.

But Frank didn’t want to sing exactly like Bing because he said every kid on the block wanted to sing exactly like Bing and his voice was higher.  The microphone would be key in his delivery.  It would bring out a needy, hungry quality in his voice, made him sound like he was singing right into your ear. 

It was the swing era and groups like Tommy Dorsey and Harry James dominated the music scene.  Frank wanted to sing with Tommy’s band.  He liked the way the band leader handled singers.  Tommy had them sing the first chorus, the orchestra would play a small piece and the singers would come in and finish it.  The vocalists were central.    

Tommy offered Frank the job at $100 weekly on a long-term contract in January 1940.  It was the break Frank waited for.  Touring the nation with Tommy helped turn him into a superstar.   He stayed with the band for two years.

But it was Frank’s solo performance at New York’s Paramount Theater on Dec. 30, 1942, that rocked the music world.  Before he even opened his mouth Frank was confronted with 5,000 screaming, yelling, applauding, and fainting bobby-soxers. 

By the end of his first run at the Paramount, Frank knew he had made it.  The skinny, blue-eyed baritone was only 27.  His career was on its way and the hit records, radio shows, movie contracts and live performances would continue for over 50 years. 

Frank started out with mostly female fans and would end up with mostly males.  Unusual in the music business.  

There were many musical influences on his voice.  He spoke particularly about jazz singer Billy Holiday.

“What she did was take a song and make it hers,” he said.  “She lived inside the song.  It didn’t matter who wrote the words or the music.”  All the heartache, disappointment and pain was right there in her voice. 

Frank did the same.

He’s been called the greatest entertainer of the 20th century.  Beyond singing, Frank was a lover of painting, sports, books and classical music.  

He was the scrawny kid from Hoboken who made it big in the music business and made it hurt a little less for a lot of people.

On Dec. 3 & 4, Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., featured a selection of Sinatra memorabilia in its Icons & Idols auction.  

Frank Sinatra

Portrait; by Nicholas Volpe; 31 ¼ inches by 25 ¾ inches;  $438.

Entertainer of the Year Award; presented by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority; 1974; 20 inches by 20 inches;  $625.

Honorary Police Badge: issued by the Buffalo New York Police Department; engraved Frank Sinatra;  3 ¼ inches by 2 ¼ inches;  $1,625.

Original Oil on Canvas by Sinatra; depicts three white diamonds against a red background; signed and dated 1978; 38 7/8 inches by 50 ¾ inches;  $18,750.    

Fedora; wide-brim; gray; monogrammed; obtained directly from the estate;  $25,000. 

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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