Frank Sinatra’s Charity Performances at the Gaumont Cinema, Hammersmith

At the end of May 1962, Frank Sinatra’s private aircraft, ‘The Christina’, landed at Heathrow Airport.

He brought his own band with him, which included his long-time pianist, Bill Miller, plus Emil Richards, Ralph Pena, Irving Cottler, Harry Klee and guitarist Al Viola.

Frank firstly appeared at the Royal Festival Hall on 1st June. The midnight performance was for the Invalid Children’s Aid Association. 

The following (partial) report was written by Neville Nisseand later appeared in ‘The Stage’:

‘Yes, tickets were as scarce as gold dust and they were changing hands for as much as ten times their original value.

Inside the building, the place was charged with excitement. This was the first time that “The Voice” had performed in Great Britain for ten years.

The lights dimmed and momentarily everything was plunged into darkness. Then, on stage strode Frank Sinatra wearing a dinner suit and, with chest out, shoulders hunched, much less hair, and wiry figure looking even wirier.

What a reception he received! Apart from the wild, enthusiastic applause, a barrage of screams hit the sound barrier, Mr Sinatra allowed himself to half-smile. Then he nodded to the audience, bowed to the Royal Box – where Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon were seated, and the performance was underway.

He stayed on stage for over one and a half hours. During his performance he smoked several cigarettes and at one juncture he was also brought a cup of tea with honey on stage, with the comment: “It’s really good for the throat, but then I always go and ruin it by smoking!”

Frank appeared at the Odeon, Leicester Square, the following night. Introduced by Peter Sellers, the concert was in aid of the Variety Club of Great Britain Heart Fund. Also on the billwere; Johnny Dankworth & his Orchestra, Cleo Laine, the King Brothers and Des O’Connor. 

The next evening it was the Gaumont Cinema in Hammersmith, which hosted two concerts on behalf of children’s charities.

Johnny Dankworth & his Orchestra were on first and were followed by ‘The Don Riddell Four.’ Incidentally, the latter group performed the theme song for the popular 1963 ITV series: ‘Crane’.

Following the intermission, Frank took the stage, accompanied by the Bill Miller Sextet.

This short article later appeared in the local Gazette:

‘A queue began to form outside the Gaumont Cinema, Hammersmith, on Sunday, five hours before Frank Sinatra was due to appear.

“There was a massive crowd outside, but the police coped marvellously,” said the manager, Mr D. Tapsell.

Sinatra gave two shows, one at six and the other at eight-thirty in the evening. 

A total of over 7,000 people managed to get into the cinema but many were disappointed.’

After a concert at the Lido Theatre in Paris, Frank returned to London to record the album: ‘Sinatra Sings Great Songs fromGreat Britain.’

Steve Russell

(Thanks to Colin Woodley for his assistance. The programme is from my collection)

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