Monday, May 12, 2008

Frank's Legacy in 2008 And Beyond

I read an article today on the Los Angeles Times website summarizing the current status of the Frank Sinatra empire. It details the deal the Sinatra children made with Warner Music Group Corp. in 2007 to "re-release" Frank Sinatra to the world via never before heard recordings, advertising, a feature film (directed by Martin Scorsese), and possibly a casino.

It is very clear that the Sinatra family is ultra-protective of Frank's legacy and up until now I've found their tenacity to be 100 percent appropriate. But I worry that the term "Frank Sinatra" will soon become synonymous with gambling, drinking and egotistical swagger instead of the traits that Frank truly represented: pure talent, strong work ethic, and philanthropy. This is what happens when a living, breathing icon dies and is deconstructed to fit snugly into a corporate brand.

In a perfect world the Sinatra family would simply let Frank's work guide his legacy. They would periodically release his archives to the public in the form of never before heard live concerts and recordings. This would maintain the buzz around Frank's name and ensure that the older generations would have something fresh to talk about to younger people that would act as a bridge to Frank's classic recordings. Frank would have a place on countless iPods and kids would look him up on Wikipedia to learn a little more about the man. Unfortunately, as a result of this deal, I believe many kids will first hear of Frank Sinatra through an internet advertisement or a gaudy image on the side of a hotel/casino and see him only as some deceased singer who their grandparents used to listen to on something called a record player.

As a fan, it was a bit jarring a few years ago in Las Vegas to see Frank's image on slot machines while a short clip of "I've Got The World On A String" played with each pull of the arm. It is now apparent that this was just the beginning...Frank Sinatra the man has become Frank Sinatra the brand. Inevitable, I suppose. Sad nonetheless.

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