by David Raksin
I remember talking with Frank quite a few years ago at a party at Peggy Lee's. He lived not too far from her. Every time we met he'd introduce himself as though he didn't think I'd remember him and tell me that "Laura" was his favorite ballad. I think he recorded it four times, only three of which have been issued.
I asked him about losing his voice during the period when he was trying to make a comeback—that I didn't think a tough guy like him would get a psychosomatic illness.
He told me that it wasn't psychosomatic. He had gotten a "second chance," a job at the Copacabana, but later agreed to perform at a benefit earlier in the day at the Hotel Pennsylvannia.
Frank said, "As many benefits do, this one dragged on much longer than expected. Finally I got up, sang a couple of numbers, then dashed out to get a cab. It was a cold winter night and there wasn't a cab anywhere to be found.
"I had to run back to the Copacabana—it was quite a distance—and got there just as the band was playing my intro. When I jumped on stage and opened my mouth nothing came out. Inhaling all that cold air on the run had given me laryngitis."
I remember Frank at another party. He was going out with Joanne Boston, quite a beauty. Joanne had brought an acetate that Frank had just received and she nagged him to let her play it. Reluctantly he agreed, and when she put the disk on there was a dreadful noise as the steel needle scraped over the surface. Frank looked at me and said, "You know, acetates and b-r-o-d-z don't mix."
Copyright 1998 Jazz Institute of Chicago
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