26/11/2015 4:26 pm  #1

Volume Two is Out

A well know author tackles a two volume biography of a major singer of the 20th Century, and produces maybe the best and most detailed biography of this singer ever.

No, no, it’s not the second volume of Gary Giddins Crosby biography (Volume One published 2001), but the second volume of the massive Sinatra biography by James Kaplan.
For those that have missed it, Kaplan’s  Volume One- Frank: The Voice was published in 2011 with 800 Pages, and Sinatra: The Chairman just came out last month (October 2015) at 992 Pages.

It’s been 14 years since Gibbons published Volume One and perhaps one day he will publish Volume Two, but I cannot help but feel with every year that goes by that he is losing readers/customers, so at some point will it become economically not practical to release Volume Two?


27/11/2015 2:16 am  #2

Re: Volume Two is Out

I tend to agree with you on this one, Joe. There's no doubt that Sinatra has more admirers these days than Bing, and since this is his centenary year, Kaplan's book should sell quite well this Christmas season. I myself am planning to buy it, since I read Vol. 1 and liked it. I didn't like it as much as Giddins's book on Bing, though, because in my opinion, Giddins is a better writer than Kaplan and one of the best jazz critics of the present time. You're absolutely right that the longer Giddins waits, the less economically viable his Vol. 2 of Crosby's biography becomes. But I have a feeling that whether Vol. 2 comes out or not doesn't necessarily depend on him...


27/11/2015 2:46 pm  #3

Re: Volume Two is Out

Hi JoeM!

I got excited for about one minute until I opened the post! As for Gary Giddins book, I don't want to be negative, and I hope I am wrong, but I don't think volume 2 will ever be published. Too much time has passed and too many opportunities when the book should have come out has passed as well.

Again, I hope I am wrong.


30/11/2015 10:26 pm  #4

Re: Volume Two is Out

I do not like Kaplan's style of writing. He often places his subject in certain mythical situations (which include exactly what the subject is doing and feeling at that time) to tell the story or set the scene. Nick Tosches did this to  a much more grievous effect in his biography of Dean from some years ago. Very bad style IMHO.
Plus, I don't know what it is but Kaplan sure had the need to continually discuss the size of Mr. S's genitalia in Vol.1. Let's hope he is over it in this book.


All the best,
Paul M. Mock

28/12/2015 9:00 pm  #5

Re: Volume Two is Out

Hello folks,
I am slowly going thru The Chairman (as I can only take small doses) but I found something rather shocking in it that I wanted to bring up here for possible discussion. Another way to say it is isn't it interesting how a book about Sinatra warts-and-all can drag in  other upper echelon celebrities and drag in their alleged dirt?

In discussing the filming of "High Society" and how, despite his alleged cool and aloof personality offstage, Bing got along famously with the cast and crew. Kaplan even gets in a little jab about the "affair" between Bing and Grace Kelly.  This is all small-stuff. Here's what absolutely floored me:

Page 90:

And part of the illusion was that Frank & Bing were pals. In fact, Sinatra was intimidated by his one time idol, who was so cool and aloof offstage that even Crosby's longtime comedy partner Bob Hope would say after his death, "You know, I never liked Bing. He was a son of  a bitch!"   
This is annotated to be from a book by an author named Zolgin titled Hope on pg. 243.  

WOW! I have heard over the years that perhaps Hope & Crosby were not best of friends during their careers together...but never anything this blunt from Hope.

I take it that to all or most of you this is old news being dragged up again. But to someone like me who is not a Crosby/Hope historian this being brought to life decades later once again this IS big news if absolutely true.

You can thank one James Kaplan for doing the dirty deed. At least he didn't keep all the dart throwing just at Mr. S!!!  

I sincerely look forward to any comments from the Crosby aficionados here regarding this.

Hopefully your Holidays are going swimmingly and may I be among the first to wish all of you here a very Happy and Healthy 2016!!!! 

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

29/12/2015 7:57 am  #6

Re: Volume Two is Out

This was the quote in full in the Hope book.
Though he always had words of affection for Crosby in public, in private he was less charitable. Many years later, after Crosby died, Hope was sitting in an NBC editing room looking over film clips for a TV special he was preparing on their screen work together. Associate producer Marcia Lewis was startled when Hope turned to her and made a blunt admission.
“You know, I never liked Bing. He was a son of a bitch. In all their years of working together, Hope said, “He never had Dolores and me to dinner.” (page 243)
 We discussed this in the Spring 2015 edition of BING magazine when I said: "Kathryn Crosby has refuted this earlier in this issue and, as an example, on page 321 of her book “My Last Years with Bing” she describes how Bob and Dolores went to the Crosby home in 1973 for a Thanksgiving Dinner. The families lived together for three months in England in 1961 as well. So clearly we cannot place much reliance on the recollection of an associate producer from 1977. I wish the author had examined the claim more thoroughly. The quote has been mentioned to me by several friends who had happened to notice it and I have spent some time putting them right.
There are however many favourable references to Bing in the book and undoubtedly the newspapers picked out those which would cause a stir. One extract that is worth considering was this from page 158 which looks at the Hope / Crosby working relationship.
Yet they brought out the best in each other, both onstage and off. Hope loosened up Crosby, unleashed his sense of humor. Crosby gave Hope a role model, both as a businessman and as a manager of his own career. Crosby was arguably the greater artist. But Hope was more driven, more responsive to the changing entertainment landscape, and, in the end, had a broader and more lasting impact on the world of show business. He simply tried harder. 


29/12/2015 8:27 am  #7

Re: Volume Two is Out


Malcolm has dealt very adequately with the specific passage about Hope. It is clearly incorrect and seems to be one of those pieces of title tattle that is in danger of growing in the telling.
My personal response is that as I was not a personal witness I don't know. 

However, I interpret books about celebrities, particularly those published after their subject's deaths, with a large dose of cynicism. 

But would Hope and Crosby on the one hand and Sinatra and Crosby on the other, be able to sustain the jocular and apparently friendly camaraderie over a sustained period of years if there was really any element of strain or dislike?

If Hope felt as now reported (at apparently third hand) would he really have been one of the small select circle of friends attending Bing's funeral?

How believable is the quote when the factual background indicates otherwise? 

Sinatra may have been in awe of Bing in earlier years - that would have been pretty normal - but it is clear that the relationship became easier - just listen to, and watch, the many occasions when they appeared together on radio and TV, when there is clearly an easy and friendly camaraderie, though I don't think it was a particularly close friendship.

With Hope, the friendship was clearly closer and had lasted longer. There are innumerable examples available to the listener from radio of a friendly easy going relationship. An act? Over that period of many years? It is difficult to believe that even the best actors would be able to sustain that. And if they were, why? They each had very satisfactory self - sustaining careers without the need to work together if either of them had felt any antagonism.
The motives of writers covering major celebrities have to be questioned. Will a bit of extra tittle tattle add "spice" and extra controversy leading to more sales? Are they real masters of their subject or have they merely trawled through other works to pick out juicy bits?



29/12/2015 2:28 pm  #8

Re: Volume Two is Out

If Bob did say that maybe he was joking around. Bob was the one who was upset with Gary Crosby for the book he wrote. Bob listened to Bing records when he was sick and near death. Bob showed his love for Bing many times.

Peace and Love! 

29/12/2015 3:11 pm  #9

Re: Volume Two is Out

Many, MANY thanks for expounding upon the quote in question. It really floored me when I read it and immediately went to my sources for clarification. Another bit of proof why these two Kaplan books are far less factual than what they are being touted as. FYI, in a recent interview Frank Jr. said he has read The Chairman and  personally noted "over 200" inaccuracies and mistakes!

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

30/12/2015 9:29 pm  #10

Re: Volume Two is Out

Here's another one where Kaplan really "wets the bed" as far as accuracy goes!

Saxophonist Don Raffell is quoted on pages 128-129 of The Chairman and credited to the Riddle biography September in the Rain pages 136-137 :

We had rehearsed the music and were sitting there. The double doors at Capitol open up and there's Sinatra. He's got a black hat on with a white band, black suit, black shirt, black shoes, white necktie - gangster. He doesn't say anything to anybody, walks into the recording booth, and says, "You've had plenty of time to get the balance on this thing. I don't want any fooling around or it'll be your ass!"

We did one take on each thing that we did. One! That's it. That's all he wanted to do. No slips, no nothing. He was an evil monster!

OK... on 11/15/56 from 9:30PM -12:30AM Raffell is listed as playing tenor sax. According to Put Your Dreams Away the tunes recorded were:

"I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'" take 21 was used *

"I Won't Dance" no listing of takes

"Stars Fell on Alabama" take 7 was used *

* edited recordings from the session are also heard on From the Vaults Archive 2201 (obviously unauthorized) and Mr. S is bright, buoyant and seemingly having a fun time even at the expense of his own mistakes.

There is an often seen (and used to portray the "gangster" side of Mr. S) photo of him wearing that aforementioned suit. He is seated in an office or a waiting room and he has an impatient look upon his face. Whether it is from that record date or not is AFAIK unknown. However, what we hear on the CD is obviously not some "evil monster" and not a "one-take-Charlie"!

Plus, I have never read or heard of him making any grand entrances into the recording studio as described in the quote. If anything, he usually sauntered in the side door and made the rounds saying hello to guests and the musicians. Then he'd head to the conductor's podium, pick up the sheet music and begin rehearsing.

Oh, I would LOVE to run this one by Frank, Jr. !!!!!  

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

31/12/2015 4:08 pm  #11

Re: Volume Two is Out

Paul - Your evidence seems pretty conclusive.

Stories grow in the telling - memories fade, and small things get blown up out of context. Possibly at some point Frank decided there had been enough takes so the story gets reduced to there being one take for everything!

You should know however that into the taping era there were sometimes additional versions "manufactured" by editing and splicing tape, with each variation being allocated a number as if they were true takes.


31/12/2015 4:31 pm  #12

Re: Volume Two is Out

Oh yes! I have many session tapes from Mr. S at Reprise. He hand his producer Sonny Burke wanted "perfect" records, so they often called for an "inner-cut" during a recording of a song. He was the master of that "art".

One that is worth briefly mentioning is his recording of "The Impossible Dream". He was in rather poor voice at the outset of the session and called for several restarts and inner-cuts. By almost 3/4 way thru the song he hit his stride and ended the song beautifully. He then did the unthinkable and went back and re-recorded the pervious inner-cuts "backward"!!! He remembered exactly the spots where he had broken the recording process, called out the bar from which to start each inner-cut and redid each one again from mid song back to the beginning. It is awesome to hear this and I am sure the entire studio was totally confused as to what Mr. S was doing. But Sonny pieced it all together with the great Lee Hershberg  and what you hear is a beautiful recording of the song that one would think was recorded beginning to end nonstop.    

Happy 2016 to you an all members here @ Crosby Fan World. Happiness and GOOD HEALTH to all!!!

Last edited by paulmock (31/12/2015 7:54 pm)

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

31/12/2015 6:13 pm  #13

Re: Volume Two is Out

I have a tape of a recording session of Frank making "East of the Sun". Several takes and interesting how they would start in the middle or other section of the song and you wouldn't think it was all put together with stops and starts.


31/12/2015 7:59 pm  #14

Re: Volume Two is Out

Ron Field wrote:

I have a tape of a recording session of Frank making "East of the Sun". Several takes and interesting how they would start in the middle or other section of the song and you wouldn't think it was all put together with stops and starts.

The great audio engineer Steve Hoffman told me that the 2nd Basie album It Might as Well Be Swing! was a nightmare to re-master because it is loaded with inner cuts and bits and pieces from other takes inserted in after the recording sessions. To listen to it one would never imagine that as it has such lovely continuity to it.

I hope I haven't taken this thread too far off topic. It will get back on track once I find another "clinker" from Kaplan...which I suspect won't be too far from now! 

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

17/1/2016 11:59 pm  #15

Re: Volume Two is Out

I really like my early Sinatra 78s, and I respect the craft that went into some of Frank's thematic albums, but the "Rat Pack" and "Chairman of the Board" Sinatra personae never floated my boat, and despite liking some of Sinatra's film roles, I find Bing's career in movies more varied, entertaining, and impressive. What's my favorite Sinatra movie song?  :"Did You Evah," his duet with Bing!  I also think Bing's voice held up better in his old age than did Frank's.  The last times I heard Sinatra sing on TV the vocal ability was a bit ragged. It seems, today, like Tony Bennett is setting the standard in that department. Old Tony, despite some increasing losses in his range, seems invariably able to make up for it in his expressive timing and dynamics.  Hearing Tony Bennett, keeps me wondering what Bing might have yet contributed as a singer (and actor) had we had him with us for another 10-15 years! 

Last edited by Steve Fay (18/1/2016 12:01 am)


18/1/2016 2:02 am  #16

Re: Volume Two is Out

Hi Steve,
I have mentioned here before I am a big fan of "Latter Day Bing" as I feel he was more honest with himself and his performances and comfortable in his then stage of life. (No offense, please...but I find a good bit of his work in his "prime" to be less-than-real and honest. But that is purely me speaking).

That said, in answer to one of your questions, I think that as much as it devastated all of us to face his sudden death (he was definitely way into the September of his years) IMHO Bing left us at just the right time. He was in great voice and seemed really happy with doing a world tour and some resurgence in appeal. That may have proven ghastly if he had lived a good while longer. I feel "the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd" was taking him over and he may have begun to feel like it would go on forever. To say he went out on top surely applied to Bing.

To answer another question or comment...YES! Mr. S stayed at the fair way too long. I saw him 30 times in concert or nightclub "live". Most were very, very good. Some were excellent. A few were poor. I last saw him live at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles in August 1991. He was OK but lost at times and embarrassed himself by telling the same story or joke more than once. As he finished with "New York, New York" and the crowd roared and stood and stomped in appreciation I stood and applauded with tears running down my face saying farewell to my Champion. I knew it was time to cut-the-cord. I never wanted to see him in that state onstage again. He continued to perform almost 3 1/2 years longer. But I could never bring myself to a Sinatra performance again. I had the memories of greater times.

I really appreciate your comments and opinions as always.    

Last edited by paulmock (18/1/2016 2:04 am)

All the best,
Paul M. Mock

18/1/2016 4:44 pm  #17

Re: Volume Two is Out

I've always felt that entertainers should know, as they say in the soccer world, when to hang their boots, when to retire before age catches up with them. And I mean particularly those who don't really need the money anymore, which I assume to have been the case with Frank and Bing. Not retiring brings about situations like what Paul describes in his post, where something that should be enjoyable (seeing one of our favorite singers live in person) turns into something painful because we care about the entertainer as a person and want to avoid witnessing him as he makes a fool of himself on stage.

I often wonder what possesses an entertainer who lives in perfect financial security to keep performing live after his ability to do so in a satisfactory way has left him. Since it can't be the money, it must be his love of music, of audiences, of the bright lights of the theater. But I can't imagine that doing a subpar job is enjoyable to anyone. Then what is it, I wonder? I suppose it's a different reason in each case.

As far as Frank and Bing are concerned, I admire the work of both, but I do believe that Bing was more aware of when he needed to retire than Frank, and had Bing lived a few years longer, I don't believe he would have kept touring as long as Frank did, although, of course, there is no way to ascertain this because of his sudden death in Madrid. It's just a feeling I have, and so I can't quite explain it, but I sometimes think that Bing, starting in the 1960s, became less serious about his career, and therefore, he recorded much less than Sinatra. He was in the midst of a very comfortable semi-retirement and didn't really concentrate on making albums that would sell and hit the charts, whereas Sinatra kept having hits and often recording contemporary songs that didn't really suit his style. This may explain why (to my ears at least) the records of Bing's later period are more compelling than those made by Frank in his later period. This is my opinion, of course, and I don't mean it as universal truth, but I feel like, with just a few honorable exceptions, Sinatra's later albums (1970s and '80s) are weaker than his earlier output, and I usually enjoy Bing's later albums more than Sinatra's final efforts.

Last edited by Anton G.-F. (18/1/2016 4:47 pm)


19/1/2016 3:20 pm  #18

Re: Volume Two is Out

I think Bing might have had a few more very interesting film roles in later years.  Think of his work in Stagecoach, as the central character actor who at times fully carries the movie making one forget some of it's other shortcomings and poor production values.  Then, too, I think he might have been very effective playing against type in more dramatic roles, as in Dr. Cook's Garden  And both of those were non-singing roles, even the theme of Stagecoach being sung (forgettably) by Wayne Newton 

Then when we look, for example, at some of the songs recorded for the Seasons album, I think we are not just hearing Bings voice at that age, we are also hearing the voice of his maturity in the interpretation.  Furthermore, considering the sequence on side two of "Summer Wind," "Autumn in New York," and "September Song" -- I contend that these songs are not only products of Bing's vocal ability and rhythmic interpretation; rather, they are also dramatized, we might say *embodied*  through Bing's actor's soul.  I think this quality might have become more and more apparent in later Crosby albums, even if his range or power failed in ways not apparent in Seasons, where some of his low notes are so rich that they could rattle the windows if you turned the stereo up enough!

Last edited by Steve Fay (19/1/2016 3:26 pm)


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