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Why Sinatra Matters

Written By: Sugar Ray Lamere



The first of our Superstars, is a man who had a wonderful career in music and film, Frank Sinatra.  There are so many books written about Mr. Sinatra and one title intrigued me the most.  It was called "Why Sinatra Matters." When Frank Sinatra came on the scene in 1938 out of Hoboken N.J. there were two kinds of singers, movie Tenors like Alan Jones, Lanny Ross and Dick Powell or those wo were influenced by Bing Crosby.  Singers like Perry Como, Buddy Clark or Dick Todd who was known as the Canadian Bing Crosby and of course Dean Martin, who was once described by a critic as "Crosby out of Jolson".The Sinatra sound was unlike any other singer of the time.

In 1939, he joined the Harry James Orchestra with whom he recorded "All or nothig at all",bringing a new swinging sound to the big band. He went on to the Tommy Dorsey orchestra in January 1940 and did not garner much attention until July 1940 when he recorded "I'll never Smile Again".  After a string of hits with Tommy he felt it was time to go it alone.  While he was still with Tommy in January 1942 he recorded 4 sides with Axel Stordahl, conductor and arranger. The sides were not done in the big band format but with just four violins and a cello, 3 clarinets, guitar, bass and harp, no drums or brass.  With these solo recordigs, he became the Sinatra we've known and loved. They were beautiful recordings then, and now.

When Frank Sinatra became a solo performer, other big band vocalists rushed to become part of the solo scene, Billy Eckstine, Dick Haymes, Peggy Lee, Jo Stafford, Sara Vaughn, Doris Day and Kay Starr.  The only singer who didnt come out of the bands was the great Nat Cole.  Sinatra also influenced a later generation of singers, Vic Damone, Tony Bennett, Steve Lawrence, Bobby Darin, Julius LaRosa, Jimmy Darrin, Jack Jones, and Ronnie Deauville who counded like the very yound Sinatra of te Dorsey area.

In 1949 his career slipped a cog.  His records did poorly, he began to have voice problems, his future looked dimm. In 1953 he won best supporting actor for From Here to Eternity, and his career was off and running again with recordings like "World on a String, Lean Baby, Love and Marriage and Young at Heart.  Some other albums and CDS from the Sinatra canon tha you should own are: all 83 of the songs he recorded with Tommy Dorsey to hear the developement of his talent, from tentative to self-assured vocalist; the early recording (1939) of All or Nothing at All and the Capital Concept Albums: Songs for Young Lovers, Only the lonely, Come Fly With Me, and Nice and Easy.  If you seek the essence of Sinatra the actor see his musicals, Anchors Aweigh, Pal Joey, High Society, and his first, Higher and Higher.  Then seek out his best dramatic roles, Man with the Golden Arm, None But the Brave, Some Came Running, Manchurian Candidate, and of course From Here to Eternity.  Do all this and you will know "Why Sinatra Matters."

Sugar Ray Lamere has toured the globe from Maine to the French Riviera. He has worked with Tommy Tucker, Bobby Sherwood, The Meyer Davis Orchestra, Sande Williams and many others.  Ray is truly a swinger and an expert in the subject of Big Band/Swing Music and entertainers of that era.  He hosted a radio show for WMVI and WMHT called Saturday Night Swing. You can see more of Ray's work on his YouTube Account: