When Franklin Wayne Sinatra was born, on January 10, 1944 in Jersey City, New Jersey, his famous father was in Hollywood making a movie. Frank Sr. told reporters that he hoped Frank Jr. would never become a singer—"no following in Dad's footsteps, that's for sure." With that kind of ambivalence early on, it's no surprise that it has been a rocky road for Frank Sinatra Jr., a supremely talented yet terminally insecure individual, a man who once described himself as the "Volkswagen in the Sinatra garage," yet who in all fairness should be considered one of the most interesting and skilled pop vocalists of the era.
Frank Sinatra Jr. took music lessons from age 5, studying the violin and piano, writing songs, and singing. But early on he made a childhood agreement with his father that he would try to grow up like an average kid and make it on his own with no help from "the Old Man," and from age 12 worked standard summer jobs ranging from camp counselor to bank clerk. He started his education in public school, but after enduring endless fuss and jokes about his dad, his mother sent him to a private school in Arizona at which he was miserable. He and his dad exchanged many letters; Frank Sr. would say things like "How's the Wild West, have you met Zane Gray?", and Frank Jr. would write back describing the place as the Black Hole of Calcutta: "Having a black time, future looking black, present looking black, black, black, black." When Junior returned home after 39 months away, he found a Pontiac Bonneville convertible waiting for him, solid black from bumper-to-bumper, with a note attached from Frank Sr.: "Here's a little reminder of all those Black years you spent."
As a teenager, Frank was enrolled in the Desert Sun School in Idyllwild, California, a small, isolated boarding school in the mountains. Unlike his previous boarding school situation, his time at Desert Sun was a positive experience that Frank fondly remembers today. At Desert Sun, Frank and a friend, Rick Shaw, did a performance for which they received much acclaim: For each of Rick's impressionist paintings, Sinatra Jr. composed an impressionist melody.
Eventually Frank Jr. decided he was ready to perform in public. A friend in Phoenix owned a failing nightclub called Andy Grand's, and Frank decided to help get the place going. He walked in one day and said, "Pick a date—I'm going to perform." The date was set as April 28, 1962, and Frank accompanied himself on the piano to a large and interested crowd.