Frank Sinatra Jr (Francis Wayne Sinatra)

Frank Sinatra Jr

Frank Sinatra Jr

Some sons run from their fathers. Others ride their fathers’ coattails. Frank Sinatra Jr., who died Wednesday of a heart attack at 72, charted an even rockier middle course.

“I was never a success,” he told The Washington Post’s Wil Haygood in 2006. “Never had a hit movie or hit TV show or hit record. I just had visions of doing the best quality of music. Now there is a place for me because Frank Sinatra is dead. They want me to play the music. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t be noticed. The only satisfaction is that I do what I do well. That’s the only lawful satisfaction.”

Sinatra Jr., a gifted singer who, fortunately and unfortunately, was the only son of one of American pop music’s giantest giants, died while on tour in Florida, the Associated Press reported. He is survived by a son, Michael. Nancy Sinatra, Sinatra Jr.’s sister, also posted news of his death on Facebook. “Sleep warm, Frankie,” she wrote.

Sinatra Jr.’s recent string of concerts, like many, many before, focused on his father’s catalogue. Frank Sinatra, who died in 1998, was born in 1915, and the centenary of his birth has brought many a tribute.

“The show that we’re doing is one of probably at least a half dozen big Sinatra tributes out there but I like to believe ours is different for one reason,” Sinatra Jr. told the Sarasota Herald Tribune just last week. “People know if they go they’re going to hear ‘Strangers in the Night,’ ‘My Way,’ and so on, but our show goes deeper than that. We assume you’re here because you love and know the music, heard all the legends, and now it’s time to know something about the man.”

If someone was going to do Sinatra, it seemed Sinatra Jr. was the best candidate. And he wasn’t phoning in “Fly Me to the Moon” for a paycheck.

“He can sound exactly like his dad if he wants to,” Jim Fox, Sinatra Jr.’s guitarist, told The Post in 2006. “He can turn on the classic Sinatra sound anytime. It just depends on what kind of mood he’s in. He has such high standards. He doesn’t want to work unless he has his 38 band pieces. He knows every third trombone part, every cello part. You know, he conducted for his dad. So he knows the way Sinatra music is supposed to sound.”

Sinatra Jr.’s familiarity with his father’s music may have been his birthright, but that didn’t mean the it came easy. Born in 1944, he was not close with his dad — one of the most famous performers of the 20th century. Much of his childhood was spent in boarding schools.

“When I started as a kid, I wanted to be a piano player and songwriter. I only became a singer by accident,” Sinatra Jr. said. “I was in college, playing in a little band. The lead singer got tanked one night. A guy in the band pointed at me and said, ‘You sing.’ I said, ‘Me? Why me?’ He said, ‘You’re a Sinatra, aren’t you? Sing!’”

Sinatra Jr. could sing — very well. His father certainly could have meddled — in the early 1960s, an endorsement from his dad certainly would have been a great career boost — but didn’t. The Chairman of the Board’s reported reaction to his son’s chosen career path: “If that’s what he wants.”

“His reaction went to his people, not me,” Sinatra Jr. said. “When he learned when I was a teenager and wanted to sing he had one question, ‘Can he sing?’ To me, nothing. He wanted me to have the right of my own determination, something I was also grateful for.”

Born

  • January, 10, 1944
  • Jersey City, New Jersey

Died

  • March, 16, 2016
  • Daytona Beach, Florida,

Cause of Death

  • cardiac arrest

Other

  • Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend

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