The Billboard issue of October 15, 1966 confirmed what fans of Frank Sinatra had known for a while: The Chairman of the Board was back. In fact, his global success with the “Strangers In The Night” single, the album of the same name and the subsequent Sinatra At The Sands LP prompted the then-general manager of his Reprise label, Mo Ostin, to tell the magazine: “He’s never been this hot.”
The “Strangers In The Night” 45 had, announced Billboard, been No.1 not only in the US and UK, but from Australia to Argentina, as well as in Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and France. “And it’s on the ascendancy in other countries,” said Ostin. “To us this represents a worldwide resurgence for Sinatra.”
A selfless decision
The song was written by popular German orchestra leader Bert Kaempfert, with English lyrics by Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder. Kaempfert had first recorded the melody as the instrumental “Beddy Bye,” as part of the soundtrack for the 1966 adventure comedy A Man Could Get Killed, starring James Garner and Melina Mercouri. The Greek actress and singer was offered it, but sensed that it should be sung by a man. Her selfless decision was the world’s gain.
Frank’s Strangers In The Night album was gold in the US, and Sinatra At The Sands, recorded at the Las Vegas hotel with Count Basie, was closing in on that status. “One reason for the good sale of this product,” opined the Billboard article, “is the inability of people to see Sinatra perform live. Due to heavy film commitments, [he] has reduced his night club activity to a bare minimum and Ostin sees the LP as filling this void for fans who have been unable to see him live.”
Indeed, Reprise was so keen on what Ostin called the “exciting repertorial approach” of the live album format that the company had, reported Billboard, cut two live albums over the previous six months by Sinatra’s “Rat Pack” compadre Sammy Davis Jr.
“Strangers In The Night” had just finished a 20-week run on the UK chart at the time of the article, and the follow-up single “Summer Wind” was on the bestsellers on both sides of the Atlantic. “Strangers” went on to double Grammy-winning glory, as both Record of the Year and Pop Male Vocal of the Year.
Buy or stream “Strangers In The Night” on the Ultimate Sinatra compilation.