“Frankie-Boy” is what Lester Young called Frank Sinatra — when, in the last years of his life, Lester would sit in his room, playing Sinatra records endlessly. But this post is not about Lester (even though yesterday was his birthday). No, it is about Frankie-Boy.
What follows is a generous offering from Bob Merrill, trumpeter and singer — who also happens to have had Joe Bushkin as a father-in-law . . . thus stories as part of the family lineage.
And this photograph, never before seen.
And here’s the story. Stories, actually, from Bob:
I found a bunch of snapshots in Joe Bushkin’s closet, this among them. Joe casually informed me that they were photographed by Buddy Rich, and somehow Joe wound up with them. He never got around to returning them, no surprise there.
It seems a bunch of guys from the Dorsey band were taking the boat to a gig at the Catalina Island Casino Ballroom for a gig. Some had new-fangled cameras, as Frank is seen with one here. Akin to a “selfie,” except it was a “Buddy.”
It reminds me of a great story Joey used to tell regarding Frank’s annoyance that Buddy was playing too loud behind his vocals. This was at a time when the bobby-soxers were going wild to the point that Dorsey started skipping the first-chorus trombone statement of the melody before Frank’s vocal, electing to begin with Sinatra, to the delight of the fans.
One night, Frank was so incensed by Buddy’s loudness, he confronted him backstage after the show. Suddenly, switchblades were drawn, and Joe and other band members intervened to break up the scuffle. Tommy Dorsey ran in and yelled to his drummer and vocalist, “If anything happens to those uniforms, I’m going to dock your pay!” Priceless, if you ask me.
Thank you, Bob! (Bob has a new CD coming out . . . and you’ll hear more about that here, soon.)
For the moment, a little Frankie-Boy from the Dorsey period:
May your happiness increase!