Jim Mahoney, a 59-year-old collector, came into possession of more than 150 boxes full of thousands of records and documents in 2017, and then focused on Frank Sinatra’s more than a thousand LPs and of 45 rpm discs. When the pandemic hit, he began devoting his hours to his home in Oakland, California, leafing through the 78-rpm disc boxes, the popular format in the 1940s, during the first years of Sinatra’s professional career.
Mahoney first discovered an acetate disk named after Sinatra. “I put him on the picup and I was very surprised to hear Frank Sinatra sing a cappella,” said Mahoney, who has been collecting Sinatra’s work for 40 years. It was a song called “Let the Rest.” of the World Go By ”, written in 1919. Willie Nelson and Leon Russell were modestly successful with this play in 1979, writes Agerpres.
After further research, Mahoney was even more astonished. On part B he discovered another a cappella song by Sinatra, an interpretation of the song “An Hour Never Passes” by the Irish composer Jimmy Kennedy. Each part of the disc also contained recordings of Sinatra along with a band – “My Melancholy Baby” and another song that could not be identified due to the degree of wear.
Neither of the two unaccompanied vocal pieces were ever mentioned. Sinatra never sang these songs in his concerts. Wanting to find out more, Mahoney contacted specialist and collector Ric Ross, the most passionate archivist and collector of objects that belonged to Frank Sinatra since the 1960s. The record and the entire collection belonged to him.
“I’m sure Ric Ross knows more about me than I do,” Sinatra told The Times in a 1988 article in the Chair of the Archives. Ross, now 82, had an authority on the life and work of the legendary artist that the President himself appealed to the collector for items in his history and discography.
Mahoney now believes he discovered the acetate disk containing Sinatra’s only two unknown records. “It’s very unusual for two such recordings to have escaped so long,” he said. ” And I think they were buried in his archive. Once he stored them, they never saw the light of day again, ” said the collector.
But, as with many discovered and undocumented recordings, their authenticity is questioned by experts – even if the artist in question was one of the most iconic and most easily identifiable voices of the 20th century.
“She is not even approaching. It’s not Frank’s voice. It’s not Frank’s way of singing, ” said singing teacher Gary Catona, who has worked with artists such as Barbra Streisand, Pharrell Williams, Michael McDonald and Sade. Catona studied and wrote about Sinatra’s “cello-like tone.”
“I am 100% convinced that it is Sinatra,” Mahoney said. “There is no one left with his style, his elongated phrasing, his stamp …” he added.
Ross agrees: “We’ve listened to a lot of radio shows and recordings from the time these recordings are supposed to have been made. It would be hard to say that I am 100% sure, but it certainly sounds very much like the 1944 Sinatra that I usually listen to, ” he said.
Throughout his life, Ross spent tens of thousands of dollars and as many hours focusing on this collection. In the 1960s he worked in marketing and business management and established friendly and business relationships with Sinatra’s representatives, but also with producers and people involved in the music industry.
For Ross, it was an unpaid obsession, but it soon paid off. If Sinatra or his men needed old records or autobiographical details, they would turn to him. Instead, the collector received rarities to keep them safe.
Ross continued to enrich his collection after Sinatra’s death in 1998.
In 2016, Ross decided to sell his collection, which included thousands of Sinatra recordings, as well as the artist’s personal belongings, such as lighters, watches, or tickets to his concerts, photos, mugs and plates, for 3,000 to 4,000 hours. interviews, personal notes and a calendar with the artist’s daily activities for five decades.
Jim Mahoney was the one who took possession of the collection following the auction. He turned to Ross to decipher the mystery of the 10-inch-diameter disk produced by Charles Eckart Co., based in Los Angeles, a company founded in 1940.
“We narrowed down the search to the end of 1944. Sinatra performed more a cappella performances for Columbia between ’43 and the end of ’44, ‘” Ross explained. “An Hour Never Passes” was released in mid-1944. That year, Sinatra was unable to record with his studio due to a strike in the music industry. Due to their inability to release orchestral recordings, Sinatra and other artists turned to vocal groups for harmonies and musical arrangements.
Mahoney is of the opinion that the two songs were recorded for radio on September 13, 1944, live in front of an audience, and were subsequently broadcast on the same day.
Mahoney contacted both Sinatra’s heirs and Columbia Music, which owns Columbia Records. He hopes to license the recording with Sony for a collection.
Asked if Columbia knew about Mahoney’s acetate disc, Tom Tierney, chief archivist at Sony Music, said he had spoken to the collector and contacted the company’s profile department.
Authentication in such circumstances can be difficult. Sinatra himself occasionally confuses his voice with someone else’s, DPA notes. In a famous case, in 1946, the artist was playing poker with friends when a singer’s voice was heard on the radio. Asked if it was him, Sinatra answered in the affirmative, but then heard the presenter say, “That was Vic Damone’s voice.”