[78-L] Grey Gull/record label cannot lie

Jeff Sultanof jeffsultanof at gmail.com
Fri Nov 23 16:04:03 PST 2012

With regard to the Sinatra sides cited, there is a whole story here.

Sinatra insisted that Axel Stordahl be his musical director when he signed
a deal with Capitol. The execs there were not happy, but gave Frank one
session to see if Stordahl could deliver a hit, which he could not. Capitol
then asked Sinatra to try someone new (Stordahl had gotten a phone call
from Eddie Fisher's management to become Fisher's musical director at this
point, so this was perfect timing, although Sinatra was not happy with
Stordahl for deserting him). Capitol execs had discussed the date with
Billy May, who was on the road with a big band to capitalize (no pun
intended) on the sales of his recordings. Billy was known to Sinatra; he'd
written some arrangements for Frank for his radio show, so Sinatra was
agreeable. Sinatra was not told that Nelson Riddle was the actual arranger
before the session. Nelson was told to arrange two sides in May's style,
two in his own (Nelson had already ghosted several scores credited to Les
Baxter for Nat Cole). So as far as Sinatra knew, May had arranged all of
the songs for the date and couldn't be there to conduct. Of course once he
heard what Nelson did on "I've Got the World on a String," the rest is
history. But long after the truth was known, Capitol was still crediting
May as arranger/conductor of the date.

This information came direct from Riddle, whom I worked with, and is
further backed up by Will Friedwald.

Jeff Sultanof

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