Memories of the master entertainer, Frank Sinatra, both on-stage and off-stage come to mind, as this year marks what would have been 100 fabulous years for this nine-time Grammy winner. There’s no better time to celebrate Sinatra’s excellence in the industry and reminisce about our summer touring with Frank and his pal, Dean Martin.
For your enjoyment, we share some of our experiences as the opening act for Sinatra and Martin when we were a part of the singing and dancing girl group, The Golddiggers. It was a double honor to tour with this historical show in 1977, to say the least!
Excerpts from the book BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS:
Linda: Frank’s act was superb. When people have their craft down like he did, you can’t put your finger on one certain thing that makes it great but it was. He had a combination of attributes that were spellbinding in the same way his albums had an inherent quality with magnificent Don Costa arrangements on those immortal Sinatra classics like the swinging ‘Night and Day,’ or his signature tune in the seventies, ‘My Way.’ Before breaking into his traditional closer, Frank usually gave a shout out to Don Costa and Paul Anka, the song’s author. ‘My Way’ could have come across as an arrogant declaration of will but Sinatra transformed it into a soul searching ballad that revealed his vulnerability and wisdom.
And then the comedy would start again. The most irreverent comments were made at the mobile bar Dean wheeled out after Sinatra finished ‘My Way.’ That’s where they fired off silly toasts and told jokes. I’m not sure if there was real alcohol in their glasses but the more they drank, the nuttier they got.
After that, Dean and Frank launched into a lighthearted medley of songs including some of their hits— ‘I Can’t Give You Anything but Love,’ ‘Embraceable You,’ ‘The Lady Is a Tramp’ and ‘When you’re Smiling.’ The audience cheered as the two pros harmonized together, Dean taking the lower baritone notes with Frank taking the higher tenor notes. All of it was sheer magic.
Maria: From our more intimate perspective off stage I could see that Frank was attempting to portray a hipper image. He had changed some of his standard arrangements to be like the trendy music played in New York’s Studio 54 where the ‘Jet Set’ partied. Frank opened with ‘All or Nothing at All’ set to a driving disco beat. Of course, this arrangement still had the big band sound that had become part of the Sinatra experience. Frank also performed ‘Night and Day’ with a percussive big brass beat. Sinatra was so smart to get on the disco bandwagon, he was always adapting to new musical styles and the top forty in 1977 was crowded with disco remakes of familiar songs. I liked the flavor of the music but Frank seemed a little out of his comfort zone, especially with the rhythm. Frank’s style fit better with his standard swing arrangement of ‘Night and Day’ but I would have jumped at the opportunity to sing to this new hip version.
Linda: Dean was high as a kite during one Sabre Room performance Maria and I had the opportunity to watch from backstage. It could have been that he was drinking but I don’t know… Dean was really loose during his monologue that evening, he started out stumbling over his words. Dean nicely reminded one heckler, “I don’t need this at all, don’t need this at all…. I love to work because I’m working with my good buddy, that’s all.” I realized, in that moment, that Dean didn’t have to invite us on this tour either. He just wanted us to be there with him. My heart swelled and I appreciated how much he cared about us as a group.
Linda: Dean’s singing was in rare form when he started, ‘Welcome To My World’ but the spell was quickly broken when Frank Sinatra wisecracked from a backstage mic, “Come on, it’s my world, you’re just livin’ in it.” It was a riot.
Of course Dean got back at him. After Sinatra started to sing, “When I was seventeen…. Dean quipped from backstage, “You were a pain in the ass!”
Maria: Frank continued his off mic comments during Dean’s numbers and at one point succeeded in making him really forget the words. They got a kick out of messing each other up but it was the roar of the audience that kept them frisky.
Dean on stage in Chicago, June 10, 1977:
“Here’s a song that maybe six or seven of you might remember. And I hope I’m one of ‘em.”
Maria: Their medley together had the usual goof ups but they were obviously having such a good time who could help but get caught up in it? A rousing version of ‘ The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game’ from Guys and Dolls closed the show, and the tour, in Chicago on the fourteenth of June.
Frank Sinatra is a voice for all generations. We are delighted to give a special tribute to Frank in our live shows, singing the best of his signature songs. Thank you for the music and happy 100th birthday Mr. Sinatra!
Be sure to watch Sinatra 100– An All-Star Grammy Concert, on CBS December 6, when the biggest names in the business will come together to honor Frank Sinatra and his music in a television extravaganza. It will be a rare treat.
BEYOND OUR WILDEST DREAMS now available on Amazon.
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