His voice was his, yet echoed his father’s just enough to invite a comparison he could never live up to. He was talented and tenacious, but Frank Sinatra Jr. was always burdened with that magical name.
Sinatra Jr. died Wednesday while on tour in Florida of cardiac arrest, his family said in a statement to The Associated Press. He was 72 and had not been ill, his family said.
Spending a lifetime belting out the tunes made famous by his father, Sinatra borrowed on the legend, resigned, it seemed, to endure in his old man’s larger-than-life shadow.
He had the voice, the glint in his eye, he even almost had the look, but more than anything else, he had the famous father.
As a young man, Sinatra Jr. attempted to establish his own music career, and eventually he became an arranger and composer. Still, as the son of the “Chairman of the Board,” he was both blessed and cursed.
“I always admired Frank Sinatra Jr. He was born with a hard name to live up to, but I loved his talent and his ability to be forthright,” Larry King wrote on Twitter.
Sinatra Jr. was the middle child of the man with the most recognizable voice of the 20th century and his first wife, Nancy.
When Sinatra died in 1998, also of a heart attack, the son embraced the father’s legacy, choosing to tour with a show dubbed “Sinatra Sings Sinatra.”
Sinatra Jr. was set to perform in Daytona Beach Wednesday when he fell ill.
In what was likely his last interview, Sinatra Jr. recently told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he held no ill feelings toward his father or resentment that his own popularity paled by contrast.
“I think in my generation, when I came along in the early ’60s, the type of music that was in vogue in society in those days had moved on to another kind of music,” Sinatra Jr. told the newspaper. “I was trying to sell antiques in a modern appliance store.”
He said that in the 1990s, when his father’s health began to decline, what Sinatra held onto was his love of his audience, “and that kept him alive.”
“That, honest to goodness, kept him going,” Sinatra Jr. told the paper, “and I have said my philosophy — I’m a backyard philosopher, I guess — is that the dirtiest word in the English language is ‘retirement.’ ”
Fellow crooner Tony Bennett took to Twitter to express his condolences to the Sinatra family.
“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Frank Sinatra Jr. and send my sympathy to Tina and Nancy and the Sinatra family,” Bennett wrote.
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