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When Keith Richards Wrote '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' In His Sleep

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May 14, 1998: Frank Sinatra dies

Ol' Blue Eyes disdained many things – warm vodka, wearing brown after dark, hitting the town without a dame on each arm – but he especially loathed the idea of leading a static life. "You've gotta love livin', baby," he said often. "Because dyin' is a pain in the ass!"

When Frank Sinatra passed away from a heart attack at age 82, he was celebrated around the world for living a glamorous, passionate life that few could equal. A cultural icon from the Swing Era until his death, he sold millions of records, won Grammys and an Academy Award, mingled with mobsters, was befriended by presidents (most famously Kennedy and Clinton), and romanced beautiful starlets with abandon.

Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on December 12, 1915, Sinatra rose to early musical fame as a swing heartthrob before he turned traditional pop crooner—ultimately releasing over 200 records in his career, 51 of them Top 40 albums—as well as won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his tragic turn in 1953's From Here to Eternity. He also founded Reprise Records, a still-thriving imprint and an unlikely bastion of excellent rock & roll (Neil Young, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, the Beach Boys all signed there), served as the highball-slinging ringleader of the Rat Pack, donated millions to humanitarian causes, and generally went about his life with unparalleled zeal. Following his death in Los Angeles, he was mourned in the international press and buried in Cathedral City, California.

 

LAST WEEK: Inside Bob Dylan's Shoot for 'Subterranean Blues'

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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