May 14, 1998…The Birth of the Blues

Exactly 16 years ago today the world lost the greatest entertainer of all time.  Frank Sinatra passed into memory May 14, 1998 at 10:50 PM PST.  Here are my accounts…as they happened.

3:45 am est: May 15th  My friend Doug Cullen, who has since gone to heaven, called me to wake me up to give me the news that just came across the wire – Frank died.  I expected it, but was still shocked.  I immediately put in a vhs tape and began taping (on and off for 1 week straight).  Once I knew the sintape was recording I turned on 1430 WQEW in NYC, it was the standards station…Chuck Leonard, who is also gone, had already begun the Frank tribute with song after song.  It was to go on like this, 24/7 dedicated to Frank….for exactly one week straight.  Who else would get that treatment?  No one in my lifetime.  I talked with Doug for a while about Frank….then he let me go….he knew I had some drinking to do.

5:45 am est:  I left a note for my dad before he went to work, it simply said “Sinatra died”.  He left me a simple reply, “So has the music world”.  He too is gone now.  My friend Craig still has the note, probably always will.

7:45 am est:  I had to start getting ready for work, had to give one final on that Friday of finals week.  It was for Accounting 1, and it was 10:00 am.  I went in, radio on all the time, and let the class get started.  I sat at the front with my Walkman on.  Listening.  One student asked if I was listening to Howard Stern, the hot DJ at the time.  I just replied…Frank.

st12:5 pm est:  I got home, exams graded, and began to have my jack daniels, Frank’s favorite, and just sat and listened to his genius at work.

4:45 am est: May 16th  I finally had to get to bed.  Even Frank would have been worn out after the “Night and Day” I spent.  There would be more tomorrow.

2:00 pm est: May 18th  Hoboken was having a funeral for Frank….I and my pals had to go.  We got there early that bright sunny day, and walked around Hoboken for a few hours before the 5:45 pm ceremony.  We went to the Frank museum and wandered the streets talking to other sinatraphiles.  I was interviewed by the International World News…..and the NY post…I have the article somewhere.

5:45pm est:  The funeral began and it was so packed that a hundred people had to stand outside and listen through loudspeakers.  Some of Frank’s cousins were there, as he was a Hoboken native.  Of course the ceremony ended with everyone singing “My Way”.  It was something!

7:45 pm est:  We wandered around the city with the “Frank Map” the town gives you.  We went to all the places that he ever lived in or performed….there were sin olderquiet a few.  We also searched for places playing Frank music and songs….there were exactly none.

9:00 pm est:  Time to eat.  We sat across from the path station, and just talked Frank till about 11:00 pm.  What else would you do on an occasion like this?

11:00 pm est:  May 23rd  The final of the dozens of Frank Sinatra specials played to a close.  What other artist would have programming changed, altered, and added….no one else.

I hope you enjoyed my little trip through time, and my time remembering what transpired exactly sixteen years ago.  Now if you’ll excuse me as I disappear.


Rob Medaska


4 thoughts

  1. Indeed…. Frank Sinatra was the greatest entertainer of all-time. It isn’t even close considering the albums, concerts and films Sinatra made. His performances in Suddenly and Guys and Dolls will always stand out to me. Frank Sinatra has so many signature songs but the song that truly expresses the essential Frank was the Paul Anka written: My Way. Looking forward to hearing the Sinatra tune, Ny Ny theme at Belmont in three weeks as well as California Chrome tries to make history winning the triple crown.

    Nice tribute to Frank Sinatra Aurora, I believe Put Your Dreams Away was played at his funeral, fitting song…..God bless Frank Sinatra, he just continues to impact life.

    1. Thanks, John. I’m afraid I must respectfully disagree with you and my collaborator, Rob who actually wrote this tribute. No doubt Frank Sinatra was a great talent, but I give “the greatest entertainer” title to Judy Garland.

      Sinatra’s NY NY theme ends all Yankees win as well and it’s always a treat to hear it on.


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