Press "Enter" to skip to content

Frank Jr. did it his way, too

By Kay S. Pedrotti The man coming to Barnesville to sing his father’s songs in Barnesville Tuesday is a superb talent himself: he learned from a master. Frank Sinatra Jr. has a wonderful voice, his own style, and extensive musical training. He was his father’s bandleader, arranger and advisor for more than 12 years. Now Frank Jr. has sung successfully around the world. Frank Jr. told friends he wanted to be a piano player and songwriter from his childhood. He worked with bands other than Frank Sr.’s and spent time learning also from Duke Ellington. At age 19, he was kidnapped but released after a ransom payment. According to Jack Wheeler, Barnesville resident after many years as a traveler and radio personality, Frank Jr. is a ‘most cordial person ‘¦ I’ve known him for 40plus years.’ Ironically, he never met Frank Sr. ’Everywhere I would go to see him,’ said Wheeler, ‘whether it was backstage after a show, in a club, hotel or restaurant, people would say ‘˜he just left.’ That went on for years.’ Wheeler started out at KDKA, the first radio station that covered the entire United States, at night when the output power cranked up. He attended Gordon Military, in part because ‘my mother thought the uniform would satisfy my wanting to be in the armed forces.’ Wheeler’s daughter Susan Walter finally persuaded him to stop rolling and come to Barnesville, where he renewed acquaintances and fostered the idea of bringing his friend Frank Jr. to the new Lamar County Fine Arts Center. ’I found out Frank did a benefit in Albany, Ga.,’ Wheeler said, ‘so I thought, ‘˜why not Barnesville?’ This concert will benefit Lamar County Schools, and Frank is donating his time.’ Scott Votaw, LCFAC director, said he is delighted with the serendipity that made it possible. ‘I had the venue, Jack had the connection,’ Votaw said. ‘There are no bad seats here. It is a joy to be here.’ Votaw is a vocalist who has done film and theater and now also directs the music program at First United Methodist Church of Barnesville. School superintendent Dr. Bill Truby commented on ‘getting our people to come in here ‘“ it’s for everybody.’ Anybody who comes from another area has nothing but praise for the center’s acoustics, seating and state-of-the-art technical features, he said. Both Truby and Wheeler spoke about the center’s economic boon to the county. ’People are going to fill up the restaurants every time there is any kind of performance,’ Truby said. ‘They spend a lot of money in Lamar County, I mean a lot.’ At the time of the interview, the center’s ‘Encore’ presentation by Chamber Theater Productions of Boston had just wound up. Votaw said the group had high praise for both the venue and all the students who participated in the learning experience by handling various jobs needed for a good performance. ’We are impressing people from all over the country,’ said Wheeler. ’This center is a true ‘˜pearl’ or ‘˜gem’ in the community, and our people need to be aware of what’s happening. At first glance, it might appear that Ol’ Blue Eyes is back. But the man at the microphone in a Hollywood hotel this weekend was not the famous singer, but his son Frank Sinatra Jr (oh, and the eyes were brown.) While as a singer he has always suffered in comparison with his late father, it seems that in looks the two have much in common. Performing at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 63-year-old Frank Jr displayed the grey hair, jowls and dapper suit that all became associated with his father in his later years. Microphone in hand, he appeared to have copied Sinatra’s style down to the handkerchief poking out of his suit pocket. He even had the same dramatic hand gestures and cheeky grin. He performed his father’s hits including My Way and New York, New York as part of his Sinatra Sings Sinatra tour. Frank Jr once said of being the not-so-famous son of an extremely successful father: ‘It is 50 percent help and 50 percent hindrance.’ But he added: ‘There is another Winston Churchill in the House of Commons. Do you think he cares about his name? I don’t.’ The first-born son of the singer and his first wife Nancy Barbato, Frank Jr became his father’s musical director and conductor towards the end of his life and toured the world with him. After his father died in 1998, Frank continued the family name by performing with his jazz orchestra. To purchase tickets, click or call 770.358.5018.

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Website by - Copyright 2021