Ol’ Blue Eyes, The Voice, The Chairman of the Board: Whatever you want to call him, today marks the 15th anniversary of his passing. In his honor, here are 15 facts that will help the late crooner seem like a bit less of a stranger in the night.
1. Actually, don’t call him the “Chairman of the Board.”
It’s a nickname he acquired while president at Reprise Records. According to his third and last wife, Barbara, Frank hated it.
2. And don’t get him started on “Strangers in the Night.”
Barbara also maintains “My Way,” one of Frank’s most loved songs, did absolutely nothing for him. But that was a kind assessment compared to “Strangers in the Night,” which Frank called “a piece of sh*t” and “the worst f**king song I’ve ever heard.”
Thankfully, he recorded it anyway, not just because it topped the charts, but because, thanks to the improvised skat at the end of the song…
3. Frank inadvertently helped name Scooby-Doo.
This, according to former CBS exec Fred Silverman, who found inspiration in Frank’s signature “Scoo-Be-Do-Be-Do.” Good thing too, because otherwise, Shaggy’s best friend would’ve been named Too Much.
4. The guy who gave Frank “the best welcome … I’ve ever had” was Bono.
As in the U2 guy, not Sonny. Frank was at the 1994 Grammys to receive a Legend Award, when Bono introduced him as "the chairman of the bad attitude ... Rock 'n roll plays at being tough, but this guy is the boss—the chairman of boss ... I'm not going to mess with him, are you?”
Frank approved, perhaps because Bono never technically called him “The Chairman of the Board.”
5. The story behind Frank’s famous mug shot?
Frank was clipped for the most Frank reason possible: “seduction.” The charge was reduced to “adultery”—and later dropped—when it was revealed the woman was already married. Not to Frank, of course.
6. Frank had a line of jarred pasta sauces.
The year 1990 was a post-Paul Newman, pre-Marky Ramone time in celebrity spaghetti sauce, and leave it to Frank to fill the zesty void. But despite being inspired by his mother’s very own recipe, the sauce flopped (though this author remembers finding it pretty tasty). Thankfully, you can now find Mama Sinatra’s recipe online.
7. Two words: concept records.
Way before Pink Floyd was building and tearing down The Wall, concept records were Frank’s bread and butter. Two notable ones: 1965’s September of My Years, where a newly-50 Frank wrestles poignantly with mortality; and 1970’s Watertown, an incredible song cycle about some down and out divorcee in upstate New York, pondering his broken life in the titular town. The latter was the closest thing to a rock record Frank ever recorded, and it fared so poorly on the charts that…
8. Frank briefly retired.
In 1971. Thankfully for you “Send in the Clowns” fans, his self-imposed exile from the entertainment industry lasted less than two years, before he returned for good with his comeback “Ol’ Blue Eyes is Back.” And just think: if he hadn’t, “New York, New York” would still be thought of as a Liza Minelli tune.
9. Frank has an asteroid named after him.
The rock, called 7934 Sinatra, was discovered 1989 Sept. 26 by E. W. Elst at the European Southern Observatory. Of course, the Bee Gees have an asteroid named after them, too...
10. But unlike the Bee Gees, Frank has a unique distinction in Billboard history
He’s the “father” half of the only father-daughter duet to ever hit #1, “Something Stupid” (which he sang with Nancy).
11. Frank was an honorary tribal chief
Specifically, the “Order of the Leopard,” the highest honor in Bophuthatswana, a quasi-nation state in apartheid-era South Africa. The honor was a show of gratitude from president Lucas Mangope for Frank’s performances at the maligned—and later boycotted—Sun City casino. The $1.6 million payout probably didn’t hurt matters.
And you thought all that mob stuff sounded shady.
12. Frank performed in front of the Pyramids.
No, the Pyramids is not a casino in Atlantic City…Frank played a gig at the actual Pyramids. In 1979, for Egyptian president Anwar Sadat.
13. One of Frank’s very favorite love songs? “Something” by The Beatles.
Frank may not have loved (okay, he hated) rock and roll, but he was a big fan of the George Harrison-penned “Something.” The song became a sample in Frank’s live set toward the end of his career.
14. The last song Frank ever performed live: “The Best Is Yet to Come.”
On February 25, 1995, Frank sang this song for a group of 1200 people on the last night of a golf tournament named for him.
15. Last Words
The words "The Best is Yet to Come" are on his tombstone.