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Stardust – Frank Sinatra

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:34+00:00 October 8th, 2012|Categories: Songs|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Stardust, originally “Star Dust”, was firstly a song composed by Hoagy Carmichael in the year 1927. Two years later, in 1929, Mitchell Parish wrote the lyrics for Stardust. It is certainly a standard and was sung and recorded by many artists of jazz-swing era, including Frank Sinatra. Stardust was not just “one” of the songs that Sinatra sang, but a sentimental ballad Sinatra performed almost in perfection.

Stardust Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra first sang Stardust when he was in the band of Harry James. In fact, the very first song Frank sang with Harry James’ orchestra was Stardust. Jack Palmer, a trumpeter of Harry James said: “Just before the second show, Harry came out and introduced him as the new singer with the band. Frank then joined us at the next date we had, which I believe was in New Haven, Connecticut. I’ll never forget how Harry introduced him to the audience. He said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our new vocalist, and we don’t have any arrangements for him as yet. Frank, do you think we can scare something up for you to sing?” Sinatra called out “Stardust,” which is not the easiest song to sing. Frank gave us the key and the piano and rhythm section began, and we just tried to get some background to hold it all together.

A version of Stardust can be found in Frank Sinatra and Harry James Complete Recordings. Compared to later versions, this Stardust version has a noticeable faster tempo.

Stardust had its part in Jo Stafford’s memories as well. Jo Stafford says: “We knew we were going to have a boy singer, but we didn’t know anything about him. We didn’t even meet him before the first show. Out came this rather frail looking young man with a whole bunch of hair. I just thought, hmm kinda thin. But he sang no more than a few bars of “Stardust” and a great hush fell over the theatre. Nobody had ever sounded like that before.”

Herb Sanford, Tommy Dorsey’s radio producer (after hearing Sinatra singing Stardust): “Boy, this is something else.”

Apparently, Sinatra sang Stardust to impress people after joining both Harry James’ and Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra.

In 1940, 11th of November, Frank Sinatra recorded Stardust with Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, and showed us how Stardust should be performed; slower tempo, and a slow start of “Some-times-I-Won-der-Why-I-Spend The-lonely-Nights”. In this version, Sinatra starts to sing with “The Pied Pipers”, and just in the middle of “Nights”, Pied Pipers stop, and Frank Sinatra completes the word “Nights” in an amazing way, with a brilliant voice. The “You were in my arms” part is also quite notable. Stardust is one of the leading successful songs of Tommy Dorsey era of Frank Sinatra, and was a big hit in the year 1941.

“The 1940 “Stardust” is strictly the “Smile Again” layout applied to another tune. And most effectively too, judging by its effect on Buddy Rich, who was hardly the band’s sensitivity specialist. Rich, who prided himself on being hyper masculine and downright ant sentimental, later confided to friend Mel Torme that Sinatra’s rendition of “Stardust” had him hiding his face so that no one would catch a glimpse of his tears.” (SINATRA! The Song Is You by Will Friedwald)

A famous Stardust version of Sinatra is from 1943, performed in “Your Hit Parade”. It was presented by Lucky Strike, and the video of it is available.

Frank Sinatra recorded Stardust again in his album “Sinatra and Strings” in 1962 under Reprise Records. Don Costa arranged and conducted the song this time, yet this time Sinatra sang only the verse of the song. (And now the purple dusk of twilight time…) Only the verse itself with a beautiful string section is enough, as the recording shows us.
“Costa penned an elaborate introduction, proving he wasn’t averse to writing a verse to a verse for the Voice. This intro was a key reason why Sinatra guitarist Tony Mattola cited “Stardust” as his favorite Sinatra performance. “Don sets it up like almost a tone poem in the beginning,” he said, “and it could stand by itself as a classical piece.” Then Frank just sings this lovely verse, and then Don ends it, as he does in the beginning. Whoever thought of that idea-whether it was Frank or Don or whoever-it’s completely original and absolutely beautiful.” (SINATRA! The Song Is You by Will Friedwald)

Stardust would never be a choice for Sinatra’s concerts, but the brilliant versions from 1940’s are definitely more than enough.

Frank Sinatra at Paramount Theater

By | 2017-06-10T00:19:39+00:00 June 3rd, 2011|Categories: Articles|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Frank Sinatra at Paramount Theater, how did it start?

After leaving Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra on September 1942, Frank Sinatra started looking for jobs as a singer at various places. He wasn’t a member of a band anymore, he was on his own. For two months, he had not been able to find a serious place. Many band vocals that left couldn’t make it, and Sinatra was to be one of them. Things were just like the times before he joined Harry James’ band. But in December 1942, things changed.

Frank Sinatra Young, Early 1940s

In December, the phone in Frank Sinatra’s house rang. It was Bob Weitman, the director of the famous Paramount Theater.

Bob Weitman: What are you doing in the New Year’s Eve?
Frank Sinatra: Not a thing. I can’t even get booked anywhere. I can’t find anywhere to work.
Bob Weitman: I’d like you to open at the joint.
Frank Sinatra: You mean on New Year’s Eve?
Bob Weitman: That’s right.
This was of course very surprising for him, considering that he couldn’t find a place even for a regular day. And now, he was to perform at Paramount Theater!

Frank Sinatra Fans at Paramount Theater, Manhattan

That night, when he was on stage after Benny Goodman in Paramount Theater, suddenly people started to yell and scream. People were like crazy. Jack Benny remembers that day as “I introduced Sinatra and I thought the goddamned building was going to cave in. I never heard such a commotion with people running down to the stage, screaming and nearly knocking me off the ramp. All this for a fellow I never heard of.”

Frank Sinatra Bobby Soxers Paramount Theater

Frank Sinatra: “The sound that greeted me was absolutely deafening. It was a tremendous roar. Five thousand kids, stamping, yelling, screaming, applauding. I was scared stiff. I couldn’t move a muscle. Benny Goodman froze, too. He was so scared he turned around, looked at the audience, and said, “What the hell was that?”

That night was so good that Paramount Theater extended his show first to a month, then to two months. And it was not like some regular show. They used to do 6-7 shows a day. One Saturday, Frank Sinatra did eleven shows, starting at 8:10 am and finishing at 2:30 am next day.

With the help of his press agent George Evans, “The Voice” was born.
After Paramount Theatre, he performed at Riobamba on 57th Street. Needless to say, the club was full every time he sang there. After leaving Riobamba, he returned to Paramount Theatre for another month and also sang at some concerts symphony orchestras.

Frank Sinatra Paramount Theater Bobby Soxers

Nick Sevano: This time, they threw more than roses. They threw their panties and their brassieres. They were nuts, absolutely nuts. (When Sinatra returned to Paramount Theater)

But that wasn’t all of course. He took part in some movies and radio broadcasts. He had a role in the move “Higher and Higher” and “Anchors Aweigh”. And he was also on radio every Saturday, on “Your Hit Parade”, with the Lucky Strike Orchestra.

Frank Sinatra Lucky Strike Your Hit Parade

On June 7 1943, he was going to sing in the studio of Columbia Records for the very first time, and his years known as “Columbia Years” was to start, slowly bringing an end to the big band era…