It’s been awhile since I’ve posted any recollections from traveling on the road. Back in the late seventies I worked a couple tours with Pat and Debbie Boone. They were both very kind and gracious.
One summer we traveled the State Fair circuit. We were in the midwest and happened to arrive a day early to one of the fair’s. It turned out Frank Sinatra was doing a concert that evening and invited Pat and Debbie to attend. The band got to go as well. Pretty cool!
At this point I should say I’ve been a fan of Mr. Sinatra all my life. If a young singer wants to learn the art of vocal phrasing, just listen to one of his albums. , Sinatra and maybe a few others wrote the book on how to interpret a song lyric and have it sound completely effortless. That’s my opinion anyway.
So, we arrive at the outdoor arena where the concert is about to start. Pat and Debbie are sitting up in the front row and the band is directly in front of the mixing console about fifteen/twenty rows back. We had great seats.
I think it was common during that time period for Mr. Sinatra to start his show with a stand-up comic who would come out and do fifteen or twenty minutes of shtick. That would be followed by a Broadway female singing sensation (named Lorna or Lola?) and then Frank would come out and do his set.
What I came to quickly discover was that the sound system was cutting in and out like a bad radio. I had a feeling that whoever was running the house system may have been a local and not Franks personal engineer.
At first I thought “well maybe the comic just has a bad mic.” Then the singer began with the orchestra and it just sounded terrible. I looked back toward the two guys at the mixing board and they were turning every nob they could franticly get their hands on. To no avail.
Lola and orchestra sounded like a bad short wave broadcast. It was really embarrassing. Then Frank Sinatra walks out on stage… I’m thinking,”Uh oh, oh no… This is not good!”
Sinatra started into his first song and it was not good. The speakers were clipping and cutting in and out. He finishes and begins his second song and the same thing is happening. He stops the music and points back to the two guys at the board and with a very perturbed tone says, “Where ya working tomorrow night?” Then he starts the song again. By the time he finished the song something amazing happened. The sound system changed from short wave radio to a beautiful, clear and warm hi-fi sounding PA system. And I’m not exaggerating this part to make the story more interesting. I was blown away at how great it sounded.
So now I’m getting into the music, listening to the wonderful standards the Sinatra made famous. I happen to look behind me at the mixing console and no one is there. Nobody is at the board! I had an image of those two sound guys speeding down the highway, heading to Canada or parts unknown.
Sinatra didn’t disappoint on any level that night. R.I.P. Mr. Francis Albert Sinatra
Below is one of my all-time favorite songs he recorded.