Frank Sinatra was known in Italy and around the world by nicknames as "Ol 'Blue Eyes" or "Frankie". A charismatic entertainer, he became a legend for his songs and his voice, and was a regular presence in the music world starting from the postwar period, thanks to an intense activity that lasted 63 years, from 1932 to 1995, when he gave his last live concert. With 150 million albums sold, more than 2,200 songs and over 60 albums of original songs published (excluding posthumous and collected), he is among the most musically productive artists in history, along with Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Queen, Cliff Richard and U2.
Sinatra's Italian family of origin
Antonino went with boxing, then opened a bar and became captain in the Hoboken Fire Department. Frank's mother ran a small shop and made odd jobs for families in the neighborhood and was influential in local Democratic Party circles. With his parents always at work, little Frank spent a lot of time with his grandmother and aunt, and at school became popular imitating comedians and movie stars.
In 1929 the Sinatras moved into an apartment with three bedrooms, not far from the Little Italy neighborhood. In 1930, at fifteen years of age, Frank made his debut as a singer at the AJ Demarest High School. He loved music much more than his studies, and the school expelled him because of his rowdy conduct. Frank spoke openly to his parents of his vocation to be a singer: his mother gave in and supported him, but his father was adamant, he wanted him to look for a real job, and possibly return to school. So Frank began working first in a bookshop, then as a port worker but his father, disappointed by his son's passion for singing, drove him out of home.
During his childhood and teenage years music was Sinatra's main interest, he listened carefully to big band jazz, began singing for tips at the age of eight, and professionally in the 1930s, although he never learned how to read music and sang by ear.
Frank moved to New York in search of a steady job, but was forced to return to Hoboken shortly after. He began to perform as a "saloon singer", as he himself told during several concerts, in small clubs in New Jersey between 1931 and 1932, and was spotted by trumpeter Harry James. In 1935 he formed his first group, the Hoboken Four, with whom he won that year a contest for emerging talents organized by Radio Major Bowes' Amateur Hour. Since then, his career became unstoppable.
Natalina Garaventa died aged 81, on Jan. 7, 1977, in a mysterious plane crash in the mountains of Nevada, directed to Las Vegas to attend her son's concert at the Caesar Palace. Since 2008 her Italian village of origin, Lumarzo, had organized an event, "Hello, Frank!", a musical tribute from Ligurian artists and guests to Frank Sinatra, who was also a fan of the Genoa soccer team, a gourmet and testimonial of Genoese pesto in the US. On the 100th anniversary of Frank Sinatra's birth the Comune of Lumarzo dedicated the Townhall Council Room to Natalina Garaventa.
Suggested further reading
- Sinatra's Official website, operated by Warner Music Group Corp and the family of Frank Sinatra.
- Frank Sinatra's music legacy
- Frank Sinatra bibliography
- Frank Sinatra filmography