“In Frank Sinatra I found my greatest mentor,” writes Tony Bennett in his foreward to Sinatra 100. “If you ask me, he made the greatest music that ever came out of America.”
He was also extraordinarily photogenic, as borne out by the 400-plus photos in the just-published 288-page coffee table tome (half of which haven’t been published before)–truly one for whom the much overused word icon rightly applies.
“Throughout Frank’s life, no one even resembled him,” writes author Charles Pignone, who previously penned The Sinatra Treasures and The Sinatra Family Album and is senior VP at Frank Sinatra Enterprises.
“There are no artists currently on the scene that are capable of duplicating his extraordinary career. Time only increases his importance and stature. Frank Sinatra’s music is still relevant because in it we discover how our lives evolved, as did his.”
Relevant as well is the book’s photographic record. Sinatra 100 is divided into three periods spanning Sinatra’s life and work: “The Voice (1915-1952)” covers the years from his birth on Dec. 12, 1915 through his breakthrough big band years and teen idol bobby-soxer stardom in the ‘40s and up through the early ‘50s. “Chairman of the Board (1953-1972)” depicts his singular middle period solo recording, performing and movie careers, while “Ol’ Blue Eyes (1973-1998)” wraps ups his career and life as a veritable American cultural institution.
Photographs are accompanied by tribute quotes from family and colleagues including Tommy Dorsey, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Quincy Jones and Sinatra himself. Others pictured with Sinatra are contemporaries Peggy Lee and Dean Martin, and his superstar successor Elvis Presley.
Settings include recording sessions, nightclubs, restaurants, political functions, and at home with family and dog. Altogether the pictures portray an important part of America’s history from the last century, and besides “his talent, his intelligence [and] his ambition,” writes Nancy Sinatra in her afterword, they display “the twinkle in his eyes.”
“The camera loved that twinkle,” she notes. “He was able to tap into his real-life experiences without studying how to do that!”
She adds: “For me, and millions of others, he has never left us and never will.”
Concludes Bennett: “As we celebrate his 100th birthday, Frank Sinatra is still relevant. While I miss him, it is a great comfort that his legacy–the wonderful music he left us–lives on for future generations to enjoy as much as I have.”
The publication of Sinatra 100—which also features a special screen-printed acetate jacket—is part of the worldwide, year-long celebration marking the Frank Sinatra centennial. Earlier this year the New York Public Library of the Performing Arts presented a Sinatra: An American Icon exhibit organized by the Grammy Museum. A new career compilation CD/digital release, Ultimate Sinatra, was issued, as was a Blu-ray Frank Sinatra 5-Film Collection.
A two-part documentary Sinatra: All or Nothing at All was shown on HBO; a new multimedia stage production Sinatra at the London Palladium also ran. Additionally, Jack Daniels concocted a special Sinatra Select whiskey blend to honor one of its most prestigious patrons, and SiriusXM’s Siriusly Sinatra celebrated his centennial, which could be monitored on the Frank Sinatra 100 App.
Earlier this month, the Sinatra 100 All-Star Grammy Concert, starring major artists including Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, was televised. Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service reports that while the 120 million stamps issued in his honor in 2008 are long gone, its special CD, Frank Sinatra:
Nothing But the Best, is still available.
Incidentally, instead of the typical single stamp dedication, the Post Office held three same-day ceremonies in the key Sinatra cities of New York, his Hoboken, N.J. hometown, and Las Vegas.
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