business

Frank Sinatra Jnr comes to Symphony Hall

Son of legendary crooner admits he would have loved a taste of his father's success ahead of show later this month

Frank Sinatra with his son Frank Sinatra Jnr

What was Frank Sinatra like as a dad?

He was strict but very fair and sometimes happy-go-lucky.

I hear you played Birmingham's New Street Odeon before it became a multiplex cinema?

I used to come and play there with a dance band. There were Odeons all over the UK that we used to play. I have never played in Symphony Hall before but I hear the acoustics are excellent.

What were Frank Sinatra's biggest secrets to his success?

a) You have to speak the English language correctly – even as an American. Good pronunciation is critical. b) You then have to tell the story. Both of those things are critical.

How does a Sinatra know when a show is working?

Having been doing this for 53 years, you can look into the audience and see where you are reaching and where you are not reaching. It becomes very easy to tell after a time. I am reaching an older audience. It's not that I am older, but the style of music is older so we're going out to catch that audience while we can.

This is the first show we have done in an audio visual way, with video going through and pre-recorded narration, too, and the audience hearing songs they expect to hear while bearing in mind we are telling the story of his life and what was going on through those times. We are taking advantage of technology, not resting on it. We will just use it now and then. What this show is saying is that 'now is the time to know him'.

The emotional level doesn't come from the show itself for me. It's from the audience's response to the show.

Frank Sinatra's music is considered to be timeless, but can it be modernised?

I don't believe that kind of music can reinvent itself with someone like Madonna. What makes this tour special is that December is the centenary of Frank Sinatra's birth. I am going to continue working at least until we've gone through the centenary celebrations.

But there will come a time when I, too, say goodbye.

Frank Sinatra – how do you differentiate between truth, myth and legend?

I never separated them. I never regarded any of those stories because in my position I was privileged to know the truth. Some myths have been going on for decades. If there was a story that wasn't true, even if he liked it, he would say: 'That's nice flattery, but I'm sorry, it's not true'.

Do you still miss your dad?

I was 54 when he died and I still miss him, just the fact that he was there, frankly, that I could pick up the phone and call him, even just to say 'Hello'. I conducted him for the last seven years of his career and didn't have to tell him what to do. The more invisible I became on those nights, the better I was doing my job.

He knew himself. I'd tease him a lot and he'd tease me but I couldn't tell him (anything) because he maintained his professionalism right to the last show at Palm Springs in February, 1995. At that point he was going on 80 and physically he had decided that he was no longer up to it and decided to say goodbye.

His final performance was at a testimonial dinner where he did four or five songs very well to the point where he knew it was becoming just too much for him. We all knew when he walked off the stage that night that it would be for the last time.

Is Frank Sinatra's degree of super stardom worth it?

There were just so many demands made on his time, so is stardom worth it? I just ish I had an answer to that. It's something that should be considered (by those wanting to become stars).

How many times do you read about people who retire saying they want to spend more time with their families. I think Gene Hackman packed it in because he had health issues and I lost a very dear friend of my years recently with the death of Leonard Nimoy. He had retired years ago.

Do you have any regrets yourself?

That I was not successful myself. I am not greedy but would have loved to have had a little.

Did you try to emulate Frank Sinatra the actor?

I tried acting but was never a success at it. My dad made films like musicals, comedies, war stories, mysteries, personal intrigue. Today we have people like Sir Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe doing different things.

Where do you live?

I live all over... but have no houses. Living in hotels is just something you have to get used to.

I like to choose my own, but when I come to Birmingham it will have been chosen for me by the promoter.

How has your voice changed over the years?

My voice has got a lot deeper as I've got older, so it's more difficult to sing.

What do you think of England?

I've always found your country to be very welcoming. Most Americans do.

Who have you never heard sing?

Ozzy Osbourne. I just don't listen to rock music. And I don't have a favourite song of my father's. There are just so many.

Throughout his six-decade career, Frank Sinatra performed on more than 1,400 recordings and was awarded 31 gold, nine platinum, three double platinum and one triple platinum album by the Recording Industry Association of America.

And so... the final curtain question. Was Frank Sinatra a better actor or singer?

I thought he was brilliant at both. He was a very fine actor. There were certain performances that he gave that were very memorable and I still watch some if I catch them on TV.

** Sinatra Sings Sinatra - with a full orchestra - will be at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, on Tuesday, June 30. The multimedia concerts will explore Sinatra's career in stories, photos, videos and songs, with Frank Jr delivering first hand recollections of life on and off stage with his famous father, as he performs the music alongside. Tickets are £40-£60.

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