On March 16, 2016 the world lost its last token of an era marked by Jazz clubs, Spaghetti Westerns and Italian charm. Francis Wayne Sinatra, better known as Frank Sinatra Jr., passed away at the age of 72, after suffering from unexpected cardiac arrest while on tour in Florida. The son of Frank Sinatra, perhaps one of the greatest singers of all time, Frank Sinatra Jr.’s life was marked by a series of successes, failures and a more recent iconic series of appearances on the hit comedy Family Guy alongside Seth McFarlane, the show’s creator and fellow Jazz enthusiast.
Francis Wayne Sinatra was born January 10, 1944 in Jersey City, New Jersey, into the household of one of the most popular singers in the world. The younger Sinatra, who was not technically a “junior” but was nonetheless known as Frank Jr. throughout his life, hardly saw his father, who was constantly on the road, either performing or working in films. This naturally prompted an interest in show business at an early age, though Frank Sinatra Jr. would later state that his real passions were playing the piano and songwriting—deviating from the center stage spotlight.
At the age of 19, in a dynamic and suspenseful series of events, Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped outside of his hotel in Lake Tahoe, California by mobsters Barry Keenan, Johnny Irwin and Joe Amsler, all of whom had previously considered kidnapping the sons of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The 19-year-old, who was then trying to follow in his father’s footsteps by pursuing a singing career, was abducted at gunpoint and taken to Canoga Park, an area of Southern California’s San Fernando Valley. The kidnappers insisted on communicating with Frank Sinatra (Sr.) by payphone only – this prompted him to carry a roll of dimes at all times to ensure he could communicate with his son’s captors if need be.(Sinatra would go on to carry a roll of dimes with him at all times all the way until his death; he was also buried with a roll of dimes in his suit pocket). With the help of the FBI and his good friend, Robert Kennedy (former presidential candidate and brother of John F. Kennedy), Frank Sinatra secured the release of his son, and the kidnappers were later captured and prosecuted.
Following the hectic kidnapping, Frank Sinatra Jr. enjoyed a career of touring, performing and appearing on various movies and television shows of the time, including Sammy Davis Jr.’s drama A Man Called Adam. Sinatra later put his career on hold when his father had asked him to serve as his musical director and conductor for his series of farewell tours. Frank Sinatra later released the single “Wedding Vows in Vegas” on the acclaimed album What Up, Dog?, later performing the song with the band on Late Night with David Letterman. In the early 2000’s Sinatra enjoyed a major guest appearance on the hit HBO drama, The Sopranos, jokingly pandering to rumors of his family’s involvement with the mafia, as well as a series of guest appearances on Family Guy. In 2006, Sinatra released his last album titled That Face!, including the songs “You’ll Never Know” and the self-penned song “Spice.”
Frank Sinatra Jr.’s style was very much like his father’s – orchestras for each album, which lent the album a stately, nearly classical, atmosphere. At its core, in a set of brooding saloon songs, Sinatra never forces emotion out of the lyrics, he simply lets everything flow naturally and with grace. When Frank feels joy, the listener truly feels joy. When Frank experiences heartbreak, the listener is sincerely heartbroken. The bonafide melodies paired with a roaring Jazz orchestra and the charm and sophistication of a time gone by will never again be duplicated.
For old souls, there’s nothing which compares to the stylings of such icons, Dean Martin, The Rat Pack, Louis Prima and of course, Frank Sinatra. However Frank Sinatra Jr., though not as prominent as his father, was still simply sensational. Our last remnant of the golden age of music passed away on March 16. With his passing, Frank Sinatra Jr. deprived the world of the Sinatra legacy, and those of us who were lucky enough to experience it in our lifetimes will never see it again.