...I met Sinatra on two occasions, briefly, once in Atlantic City and once in Vegas.
On both occasions he went out of his way to stop and chat...but
...the time when I knew history was being made was 1966 in the Copa Room at the Sands.
It was one of my first moves to Vegas from New York City.
Sinatra was there for five days, that meant five shows, he only did one a night, others did two. No dinner show, too much noise for the man!
I was young and dumb but one thing was clear, this was the end of an era. The corporate powers to be would soon turn the town into a get 'em in get 'em out cash machine, and the days of seeing Sinatra, and Basie for a few bucks and two drinks in a cozy venue was on death watch.
I was with strangely enough with a girl from Hoboken! She had never been more then twenty miles from home so for her to be in a room with every mob guy in America, Grace Kelly, Betty Grable, Joe Di Maggio, Liberace, Judy Garland was well, huge!
We did not have reservations for the show, but I caught a monster hand at the crap table and slipped the MaitreD $50 at the door he called a Captain and said G2 for Mister C, as we walked to G2, I slipped the Captain another $50, he went off the floor and came back with two piano like chairs and put them and us right up against the stage, our elbows could rest on stage..Remember this is 1966, $50 was like 200 now.
One of the shows that week was recorded and little did I think I would have it on a disc playing on a desktop or in my car 45 years later.
To hear the Basie Band, Sinatra,
with the Count at the keys, and the great Quincy Jones
as a young man conducting and writing the charts...well, I knew this was something to savor, as the Beatles and the bubble gum music was about to fill the airways.
...it was January '66, from the stage Francis announced that he had fallen off the wagon the night before, and this night he was gonna celebrate his 51st, birthday three weeks late.
...he introduced Quincy as a "bright new star" in the music business.
..he explained his bad luck at the tables had spread to his personal life, he said him and Basie went up to see the Grand Canyon, and it was closed!
The band did several tunes alone, and Frank fired five or six classics then the band again, a full show was what they delivered....an ovation as the intro to each number started, and another at it's conclusion!
I've heard the Basie Band of the late 50's early 60's many times live, and the sound is still fresh in my head today, but at this show, Vegas, The Sands, everyone was at the top of their game, it was "that moment".
If I remember right, excluding the $100 zuk, the total tab was like $23!
So this is my small tribute to the "man" ...The show was billed as "The Man and His Music"
...this is my favorite Sinatra number, when done with Basie....It's an old Don Costa arrangement that was given a "Hip" transplant by Quincy Jones...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfuMlrSSRpM&feature=related
...it was the show stopper! (this Vid is not from the show, but the same era)
...this is one of the only videos I could find that is from that show at The Sands...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTrI74EH7X0
So, for the many, many great memories...Francis, on the day of your birth, 12/12..."cent' anni"
I'm Pete, follow me at... www.twitter.com/petecarma