Dec. 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998
Today is a very sad day. The Voice is gone.
One of those days that will remain etched in your memory forever; you’ll always be able answer the question, “Where were you when you heard?” I was standing in my living room, flipping aimlessly through the stations. When I passed through CNN on channel 14 and saw they were playing a clip of The Chairman singing, I knew instantly. 10:40 pm. Cedars-Sinai. Heart attack. And yet I still don’t want to believe he is dead.
What’s the big deal, you ask? I don’t know that I can pin in down in words. But let my try anyway.
Except for perhaps George Gershwin, I’ve never been a real fan of any artist or style of music. I never got into metal, ska, grunge, rap, or anything like that. Don’t get me wrong, I listen to a wide variety of music, but the only person who could really move me was Frank Sinatra. Perhaps part of the sadness is because, as ridiculous as it sounds, I hoped one day I could meet him. Even though I knew I never would, as long as he was around there was always the possibility that it could happen, and that was something!
When Sammy or Dean or even Bing Crosby died it was sad, yet understandable. Sinatra always seemed to be bigger than life, though. I won’t shed any tears for the life he led, but I wonder what kind of weight that was on his shoulders; wherever he went he was always the Leader.
The worst thing that can probably happen to you in this world is to be on your deathbed looking back and realize God gave you a life and you didn’t live it. Sinatra didn’t have that problem. I remember a story about how, in the 1960’s, when the Rat Pack was filming Ocean’s 11, they would all meet in the steam room around 5 pm and plot that evening’s mischief, which of course would last until all hours of the night. Frank would takeover a Blackjack table in the casino and deal cards to the ladies. He’d keep flipping through the cards until they added up to 21, and he’d say “You won!” and pay them out of the house’s money.
Sinatra was the best because he was a real person. He had his faults and didn’t try to deny them. But he also had so many great qualities. Loyalty, chivalry, style, flair, limitless talent, business savvy, charisma, street smarts, and generosity. Did you know he gave and raised more than one billion dollars to charitable organizations during his lifetime? And most of his gifts were anonymous. Dean Martin once said, “God just keeps throwing him money”, to which Frank replied, “And I keep throwing it right back.” He would never tip anyone with less than a $100 bill, and it was usually several of them.
He was an amazing artist. What I listen to most is his songs, of course. But Frank won 9 Grammies, an Academy Award, 51 top-40 albums (more than anyone else in history), made 1,800 recordings, and 60 films. He was so popular that he had a song on the Billboard charts every single week from 1955 to 1995, a record that I’m sure will never be broken.
You know, he left behind so much! Not just music and films, but a positive impact on almost everyone he touched. Heck, Sinatra was also a human book of proverbs. I love all his little quotes, you’ll find several of them around my site. My two favorites are “You gotta love livin’ baby, because dyin’ is a pain in the ass” and “You only live once, but the way I live, once is enough.” It certainly was, Frank.
You did it your way. Rest in peace.