Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dinner With Sinatra: The Top 10 Greatest Male Singers of the Great American Songbook

I am working on a Top 10 Greatest Male and Female Singers of The Great American Songbook and, of course, The Chairman of The Board will be on it. I wanted to share one of my Frank Sinatra stories with you as I prepare to list him as my first entry. About 20 years ago during one of my first visits to the Palm Springs area, my wife and I decided to try to find a good local restaurant for dinner. We were staying in the Rancho Mirage area so we started to drive on Route 111 where we knew there were lots of interesting looking restaurants. It was early, about 6:30, so we knew we would be able to get into most places. As we were driving, we noticed an interesting-looking restaurant on Route 111 West. I don't remember the name, but I do remember it was an Italian restaurant with a Southwestern feel. As we made the turn into the driveway along the side of the restaurant, a green Jaguar pulled in front of us. We were the only two cars that pulled up, and as I looked at the license plate it read, "FAS". I laughed and said to my wife that maybe it was Frances Albert Sinatra. To our surprise, as we got out of our car, Sinatra himself steps out of the Jag at the same time. Luckily, the valet was not around, and I walked up to Frank and thanked him for all the pleasure his music had given us over the years. Sinatra was in a very good mood and as we talked, I asked him if this was one of his favorite restaurants since we were new to the area. He told us it was, and that he often orders take out from this place for himself and any parties at his home. He then offered that he was here tonight to celebrate Gregory Peck's birthday with many of his closest friends. With that the valet appeared, and he went in and we followed right behind him. When we got to the front desk, the reception person asked if we had a reservation, and I told him we were here for the Gregory Peck birthday party. This ends the story because that's when the reception person said, "Not in your dreams".  He did, however, seat us next to the Peck birthday party room. It was such a thrill to have been in the same restaurant with Sinatra, the entire Rat Pack and about 20 of the biggest Hollywood Stars of the day. We may not have gotten into the party but, boy, what great story value. By the way, if anyone remember this restaurant, I would love to know the name.

Candidates For "The 10 GREATEST MALE SINGERS Of The Great American Songbook"

1. Frank Sinatra
2. Bing Crosby
3. Bobby Darin
4. Johnny Hartman
5. Mel Torme
6. Andy Williams
7. Lou Rawls
8. Tony Bennett
9. Johnny Mathis
10. Jack Jones
11. Vic Damone
12. Fred Astaire
13. Billy Eckstine
14. Michael Buble'
15. Robert Goulet
16. Dean Martin
17. Nat King Cole


  1. Interesting list, I especially appreciate the inclusion of Fred Astaire. He was the number one choice of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and Kern to introduce thier music. A very short list of songs he introduced to the world through film, "Night and Day", "You Can't Take That Away From Me", "The Way You Look Tonight" "I Wont Dance". Fred Astaire is remembered for his unequalled dance prowess, but I would submit his contribution to the American Standard songbook is comparable.

  2. A lot of thought was given to adding Fred Astaire to the list but the historical influence of Mr Astaire on so many wonderful songs that are now standards made it impossible for me to not include him on the list. He had a wonderful way of singing and talking his way through a song that is still unique even today. Thanks, Zelda for pointing me in his direction!

  3. I just added Nat King Cole to the list. He should have been on the list from the beginning, just an oversight on my part.


CD Review: Jenny Davis, "Rearranged"

Composer, Arranger, Bandleader and Jazz Vocalist, Jenny Davis has just released her 4th album as a leader.  This CD spotlights Jenn...