The Frank Sinatra, Welcome Home Elvis – Timex Special – March 21st 1960
Elvis was taking the world by storm by 1957, with his music and his silver screen presence, while in Hollywood, he was asked for his response to magazine comments made by Frank Sinatra, “Rock n Roll smells phoney and false…it is sung, played and written for the most part by cretinous goons”. Sinatra called it’s lyrics “sly, lewd…dirty” and finished by declaring that rock n roll “is the most brutal, ugly, desperate, vicious form of expression it has been my misfortune to hear”.
Elvis took the slur in good heart, saying that he admired Sinatra and that the singer had a right to say what he liked, naturally, however, he didn’t agree with the opinions that had been expressed.
Just about two and a half years after these comments, the Frank Sinatra Timex, Welcome Home Elvis Show on the ABC network was to be one of the TV events of that year, Colonel Parker had hammered out a deal, charging a huge $125.000 for Elvis’ 6 minute appearance, it was the highest sum ever paid to a single guest on a TV show, and was more than Sinatra was getting for the whole show.
Perhaps looking back with a degree of regret about the damning remarks, Sinatra seemed to be going out of his way to make amends. While he didn’t actually retract his comments, he did concede a little ground, in the run up to the show he stated to the press that, although he hadn’t changed his mind about Elvis’ style of music, he thought that the young man really believed in what he was doing.
By 1960 Sinatra a veteran of his own style of TV variety show, the Elvis special, while going a long way to put Elvis back in the spotlight, was in my opinion more to help Sinatra and the “Rat Pack”. Elvis was scheduled to appear for only eight minutes, forty minutes into the show that would be broadcast in his honour.
With his hair dyed black, Elvis boarded a train to Miami on March 21st 1960. He filled his private carriage with friends, family and band members. If he was still in any doubt about his popularity, the thousands of fans lining the route, for the most part down to Parker, must have allayed some of his fears. Such was the excitement caused that Elvis and his troupe had to leave the train on the outskirts of Miami, the main station was flooded by adoring fans.
The next day he checked into a penthouse suite at the Fountainbleau Hotel in Miami, with his entourage of Joe Esposito, Gene Smith, Lamar Fike and Cliff Gleaves. He spent most of the week in rehearsals for the show or out clubbing with the guys, but that group didn’t include his band – the Colonel had forbidden any socializing between them and Elvis.
Elvis’ first meeting with Sinatra was a staged affair in the grand ballroom of the hotel, with Elvis the picture of cool in a sports jacket and his host casually dressed in an expensive cardigan and baseball cap, the pair seemed at ease with each other’s company, which is seemed to surprise on lookers because of the comments Frank had made years earlier, but after all these were both professional showmen.
The show was taped from 6.15pm on Saturday 26th March 1960, to be aired on May 12th. Around 400 people in the crowd were Fan club members and presidents invited by Parker.
Forty minutes into the show, Sinatra asked the crowd if he should sing another song, their rehearsed “No” was followed by screams of “we want Elvis”, with that, a very handsome Elvis walks out wearing a black tuxedo that showed off his tall lean figure, and his hair long and black, combed back into a high floppy quiff. The audience went wild, showing no trace of nerves, he performed his new songs “Fame And Fortune” & “Stuck On You”, with his movements only a part of what he did pre-Army shows, but still teasing the crowd into a frenzy.
After Elvis finished his two solo songs, Sinatra then came back on stage for their finale, clearly intended to be the highlight of the show, they were to perform a medley-duet, with Frank singing “Love Me Tender” and Elvis singing “Witchcraft”. The two most successful singers on the planet looked spectacular standing side by side, their black dinner suits contrasting with the white stage set.
Then the orchestra struck up and the due done some shoulder shrugging, Frank remarked “we work in the same way, only in different areas”, He then launched casually into the opening lines – “Love me tender, love me true in his unique crooning style.
As Sinatra finished the opening lines, Elvis slides in with the first bars of “Witchcraft”, “Those fingers through my hair, that sly come-hither stare, that strips my conscience bare, it’s witchcraft”, at this point Sinatra must have regretted doing the duet, as he seems to fade into the background, as the two reach the end of each others songs, Frank breaks of to say “man that’s pretty”, but it’s a lot more than that, it’s a more sophisticated Elvis, back on top, where he feared he might never be again.
With the show in the can, Elvis, Sinatra and the Colonel could be satisfied with the finished product, getting 70% of TV viewers that tuned in to watch the special, there is no dispute that the tuned in to see Elvis and not Sinatra
26th March 1960
Miami Beach, Florida
Sammy Davis Jr
12th May 1960
Sammy Cahn, Murdo MacKenzie, Marjorie Rotunda,
Jimmy Van Heusen
60 minutes (including commercials)
Fame And Fortune
Stuck On You
Love Me Tender / Witchcraft (Duet with Frank Sinatra