Sinatra played here once. The Caird Hall Dundee. It was the early fifties and Ole Blue Eyes wasn’t exactly at the peak of his fame before the movie ‘From Here to Eternity’ changed the ball game. He didn’t attract much of a crowd at the Caird Hall that night and apparently invited the thinly spread audience to ‘come down to the front’. The mother of a friend of my wife was there!
But there’s a story handed down in Dundee about the aftermath of the Caird Hall Concert which is probably an amalgam of hard fact and urban myth. And life can be dull if we let the truth get in the way of a good story I think. The basic narrative is that after the concert Hoboken’s most famous son goes for a drink. In one version of the story he goes to the Queen’s Hotel in Nethergate around a five minute walk from the Caird Hall in City Square. Another version has it that Ole Blue Eyes sources “some exotic booze” in the Phoenix a Dundee institution and one of my favourite pubs a bit further down the Nethergate. What they agree on is that he was in the Nethergate. And shortly afterwards this his career goes stellar. So who’s to say Sinatra didn’t learn something in Dundee that helped him on his way?
None of this of course impressed the famous but less famous Ole Big Head – legendary sharp tongued shoot from the hip English football manager Brian Clough. He once came out with the following : –
“Sinatra? Frank Sinatra.? Yes he met me once”
Not sure if that’s true or not but it indicates a planet sized ego! Clough apparently liked his drink too on occasion encouraging players to drink before they went out and played! You couldn’t argue with his success though – League Titles and European Trophies. And of course he too came to Dundee and sampled the light on the Tay and the spirit of the people. Ole Big Head landed a few miles North of Ole Blue Eyes though – at Tannadice Park where one of his teams was playing Dundee United. Whom he had good things to say about. But I’d have loved to have been in the Nethergate that night to hear what Sinatra had to say. Didn’t make it though. I was learning to walk at the time!