Born: December 12, 1915; Hoboken, NJ
Died: May 14, 1998; Los Angeles, CA
Frank Sinatra was arguably the most important popular music figure of the 20th century, his only real rivals for the title being Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, and the Beatles. In a professional career that lasted 60 years, he demonstrated a remarkable ability to maintain his appeal and pursue his musical goals despite often countervailing trends. He came to the fore during the swing era of the 1930s and '40s, helped define the "sing era" of theRead more '40s and '50s, and continued to attract listeners during the rock era that began in the mid-'50s. He scored his first number one hit in 1940 and was still making million-selling recordings in 1994. This popularity was a mark of his success at singing and promoting the American popular song as it was written, particularly in the 1920s, '30s, and '40s. He was able to take the work of great theater composers of that period, such as Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Richard Rodgers, and reinterpret their songs for later audiences in a way that led to their rediscovery and their permanent enshrinement as classics. On records and in live performances, on film, radio, and television, he consistently sang standards in a way that demonstrated their perennial appeal.
Anyone will be astonished at the sheer extent of Sinatra's success as a recording artist over 50 years, considering the changes in popular taste during that period. His popularity as a singer and his productivity has resulted in an overwhelming discography. Its major portions break down into the Columbia years (1943-1952), the Capitol years (1953-1962), and the Reprise years (1960-1981), but airchecks, film and television soundtracks, and other miscellaneous recordings swell it massively. As a movie star and as a celebrity of mixed reputation, Sinatra is so much of a 20th century icon that it is easy to overlook his real musical talents, which are the actual source of his renown. As an artist, he worked to interpret America's greatest songs and to preserve them for later generations. On his recordings, his success is apparent. Sinatra finally retired from performing in his 80th year in 1995. He later died of a heart attack at 82. Read less
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