November 22, 1995
Web posted at: 9:20 a.m. EST
From Entertainment Correspondent Sherri Sylvester
LOS ANGELES (CNN)--Frank Sinatra is getting an early start on his 80th birthday celebration. He was honored Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The diverse throng of performers included Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, and Ray Charles. While the grand celebration was happening on stage, stars backstage talked about how they admired "Ol' Blue Eyes."
The guest of honor wasn't granting interviews, but backstage, Frank Sinatra said he thought his birthday bash was first rate, and why not. Those singing for Sinatra spent days preparing for the big night. (88K AIFF sound or 88K WAV sound)
Rehearsals at the Shrine included three generations of talent all paying tribute to Sinatra in their own way. Even newcomers Hootie and the Blowfish took on a Sinatra classic. (60K AIFF sound or 60K WAV sound)
"Once you play that style of music and a song of his, it just hits you like a ton of bricks, whoo! This is really cool stuff," said Hootie. (70K AIFF sound or 70K WAV sound)
The pressure to put on a good show was on and even a veteran like Patti Labelle was shook by the uncertainty of rehearsal. Eventually, the nerves eased and it became an unforgettable opening night.
When it came time for the big show, it seemed all of Hollywood came to congratulate "Ol' Blue Eyes". A who's-who of celebrities offered their praises up front. (1.4M QuickTime movie)
Backstage there was a bit of stage fright, or maybe it was audience anxiety.
"Going through my mind? Don't screw up, don't screw up Frank's birthday," a worried Tom Selleck said.
Sinatra recorded his first single in 1940. Many of his hits over the past 55 years will be re-released as part of the birthday celebration. But at this tribute, many stars had Sinatra favorites of their own. The "Boss" Bruce Springsteen sang to the "Chairman of the Board", as did Bob Dylan. However, instead of singing, Roseanne offered an old joke instead.
"I saw Sinatra and the Pope on TV when I was two and said 'Who's that guy with Frank Sinatra?'" Roseanne quipped.
Even the comics couldn't help crooning during the grand finale of "New York, New York"--his way.
Sinatra officially blows out the candles December 12. The birthday tribute will air on ABC December 14.
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