It is difficult to imagine how successful Frank Sinatra, Jr. would be as a singer if he had not been forced to compete in the 1960s with his famous singing sister, Nancy Sinatra. Nancy charted ten Top 40 hits, including two #1 hits, and earned three gold records. Frank Jr., meanwhile, never cracked the Top 40, though his albums and singles are viewed as solid material, worthy of big sales.
Or, perhaps it is not sister Nancy but his father, Frank Sinatra, whose huge shadow kept Frank Jr. in the dark career-wise. Frank Sr. apparently passed on good vocals to his son, and Frank Jr. also studied piano and violin. Pretty soon he displayed much promise of success, on his own terms, despite his father's advice to avoid a career in music.
At his boarding school in Idyllwild, California, Frank Jr. collaborated with a schoolmate in an impressionistic mixture of media: the schoolmate painted, and Frank Jr. let the paintings inspire in him melodies suited to the art. This unusual pairing led to a considerable positive reaction, and Frank Jr. showed that he could do work different in style from that of his father, althought much of his later work followed in a vein similar to Frank Sr.'s.
After performing in Phoenix in 1962 and then at Disneyland in 1963, Frank Jr. developed a road show with some members of Tommy Dorsey's orchestra, and at age 19, Frank Jr. was definitely selling tickets through his own name.
In December 1963 Frank Jr. was kidnapped before a show at Lake Tahoe and driven in the trunk of a car to Los Angeles. His father paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars in ransom, and Frank Jr. was released, unharmed. During the trial, the kidnappers claimed that Frank Jr. had hired them to kidnap him as a publicity stunt. Though the story was false, there was enough public suspicion to slow Frank Jr.'s career.
Even so, Frank began working tirelessly, performing nearly every day in 1964 and 1965. His 1965 debut album, Young Love for Sale, showed his talent off admirably, but there was inevitably comparison to his father, so a gem of an album perhaps did not get the praise it deserved.
Appearing on TV as host of a one-hour special and continuing to tour, Frank Jr. maintained his fan base through the late 1960s but still did not have the chart success he deserved. He made a film in Japan called The Walking Major, which depicts an American soldier who walks across Japan for charity; the film was good enough to be nominated for a Golden Globe award. Frank Jr. also gained the distinction of being the first performer in the lounge of an American Airlines 747 in 1970.
As a singer who writes fine material of his own and has the skills and inspiration to arrange his band's performances, Frank Sinatra, Jr. continues to shine as a performer and recording artist. Tickets to his shows, which now feature tributes to his father, continue to be a coveted item. When you see Frank Jr., you may well be surprised at how much he resembles his father!
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