With a career spanning 60 years, the ‘Stranger’s in the Night’ singer, Frank Sinatra, had to have gained at least one nickname.
Frank Sinatra had a few nicknames including ‘Chairman of the Board,’ ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes,’ and ‘The Voice.’ These three nicknames were constantly used to describe Sinatra, but he also had two other lesser-used nicknames: ‘Swoontra’ and ‘The Sultan of Swoon.’ He was also called Scarface as a child due to scarring on his face from birth.
You can read more below about how Frank Sinatra received all of these different nicknames.
Frank Sinatra is the ‘Chairman of the Board’
While some of the other nicknames seem pretty self-explanatory, the nickname ‘Chairman of the Board’ is anything but. So where exactly did it come from and what does it mean?
Well, in 1960 Sinatra founded his own record company calling it Reprise Records. The goal of the company was to give artists complete creative freedom and eventually allow them to own all of their music publishing rights.
It was a big step in favor of musicians. Sinatra was strung up between two record labels now as he had to complete his contract with Capitol, which didn’t end until 1962.
When he was free from Capitol, Frank Sinatra focused entirely on his label Reprise and tried to bring it out of dire straights. The one issue that he was having was that he didn’t have a recording studio of his own and the company was constantly paying additional overhead to record.
Fortunately enough, Sinatra had made a huge name for himself at this point as an on-stage performer and an actor. The massive entertainment company Warner Bros. saw a huge opportunity with Sinatra and his new enterprise.
As this Ultimate Classic Rock article points out, Warner bought up two-thirds of Sinatra’s shares to bring Reprise and Sinatra into the Warner family. Warner kept all of Reprise’s executive team on the board and left Sinatra as the Chairman.
Guess where that led? Right to Sinatra’s nickname that followed him from that point forward, ‘Chairman of the Board.’
Sinatra famously hated the nickname, but he was the Chairman, whether he liked it or not. The Reprise label also went on to become highly successful in representing huge stars like Jimmi Hendrix, The Kinks, and Nancy Sinatra.
You can watch the below video from Grunge that explains ‘The Tragic Truth About Frank Sinatra.’
Sinatra as ‘The Voice’ and ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’
So ‘Ol’ Blue Eyes’ is pretty obvious when it comes to nicknames. Frank Sinatra was known for having these stunning bright blue eyes that could apparently take your breath away.
What isn’t as well-known is that it was a nickname that he gave himself. He titled his 1973 album Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back and his self-imposed nickname took off with fans and the press with him still being referred to by it today.
The nickname ‘The Voice’ is a bit harder to decipher. For one, Sinatra’s singing voice was one that people hadn’t really heard before. As this Daily Variety article points out, Sinatra’s singing style was known as ‘crooning’, and other than with Bing Crosby, it hadn’t been around in the music scene since the 16th-century opera.
Whitney Baillet observed in The New Yorker that “Bing Crosby was the first popular singer to learn this trick and he did it in large part by listening to jazz musicians. In turn, he taught a generation of popular singers. The best of them was Frank Sinatra.”
It was essentially reviews like these and Sinatra’s legendary singing style that led the the ‘The Voice’ nickname. Although no single source can be credited with coming up with the nickname.
‘Scarface’ Frank Sinatra’s Childhood Nickname
This is probably the meanest nickname that Sinatra had throughout his life and it definitely caused him to have a bit of an inferiority complex when it came to his looks. He had scarring on his face due to his difficult birth.
When Frank Sinatra was born on December 12, 1915, everybody thought he was stillborn. He was a huge baby, at 13.5 pounds, and the doctors had removed him from the womb with forceps.
His grandmother ran him under some cold water in the kitchen sink and low and behold, little Francis Albert was actually alive. However, the forceps left severe scarring on his left cheek, neck, and permanently damaged his ear.
So growing up, the other kids called him ‘Scarface.’ Upon gaining his fame, he often covered up the scarring with makeup.