Frank Sinatra, Jr.

Frank Sinatra, Jr. has died.

He was the nicest guy, everybody said, and that means a lot in a business where not everybody is the nicest guy. He used to come to Catalina’s every once and while, the jazz spot in Hollywood, with his excellent orchestra and fine arrangements. He always got great reviews. It’s a great band, Don Heckman told me, and he’s a great guy, you should interview him. But I managed to miss him every time. Still, I figured the next time around I’d get an interview with him. Not talk about his dad, either, not the usual thing, but to talk about him, Frank Sinatra, Jr. Write up a nice story for the LA Weekly. But then there was a new editor, and he probably had no idea who Frank Sinatra, Jr. even was, and I was burnt out and didn’t feel like fighting with another new editor. So I split the gig and the interview never happened.

Now it’s too late.

I hadn’t actually remembered any of this until now. That’s probably the way it usually is, though, you never remember till it’s too late. I wonder how many of life’s potential happenings slip by like that, things that never bothered you much until you realize they can never happen. It’s not like you screwed up, really, it’s just that you never got around to it. Something always got in the way, and then it’s too late, and you dwell on it a little too much, and it becomes much better than it ever really was. A half assed notion becomes a tragedy, something to talk about half sloshed before your wide eyed friends, like a Frank Sinatra song a few drinks into the chorus, a little story I think you oughtta know.

So rest in peace, Frank Sinatra, Jr. It was a long and musical and quiet career. The public scarcely even knew. That was fine with you. No riding through desert towns with Ava Gardner, shooting out store front windows with a .38. Instead you buried yourself in music, working three times as hard as the guy off the street, singing, conducting, writing, being yourself. A life of pure big band creativity. A good thing.

I wonder if you’ll wind up out in the desert anyway, though, if they will lay you down by your old man. The desert is beautiful, hushed and spare, a dry wind blows through the poppies and the keening of far off coyotes can sound like horns in the night air.

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