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By Mahnuel Muñoz

James Petrozelli, Patrick Principe, and Fred Tamburro were regulars at the Sinatras’ tavern in Hoboken. They formed a musical group called The Three Flashes. Young Frank Sinatra, eager to become a professional singer, was after them after learning that they had been hired to sing on weekends at the Rustic Cabin, a roadhouse a fifteen-minute drive from Hoboken. The trio decided to let Frankie join them for the simple reason that he had a car, and would be very useful as a driver. It also helped that Dolly, Sinatra’s mother, a very influential woman in the city, kept urging them.


Frank joined the group in time to attend a radio contest presented by the popular Major Bowes. Tamburro said that Bowes loved the quartet’s version of the song “Shine”, but Sinatra would say that it was “his” version of “Night and Day” that convinced the presenter.

The group performed on this day in 1935 as The Hoboken Four, and their performance of the song “Shine” will become Frank Sinatra’s first known recording. Both the show’s “applause” and calls from listeners awarded them the first prize: a six-month contract to go on tour with Bowes.

The experience ended up being more arduous than glamorous, and had a bitter end. They traveled by train and bus throughout the country. The pay of $75 a week (more than $1,000 in today’s dollars) was more than any of them had earned, but with such a magnificent sum they had to pay for all their needs during the tour.

It became evident, from gig to gig, that Frank had a special talent. When he was asked to perform solo at a club in Oakland, he went on stage to sing without prior rehearsal. “It got so good after just a couple of months on tour,” Petrozelli recalled, “that with the bus full of people talking, making out, reading—everything people do on the bus—Frank would start singing. from somewhere in the background and everything stopped to listen to him… He put his heart and soul into it. The boy was really good.”
“Frank was the best of the bunch,” said a former member of Bowes’ team. “After the show, people would crowd around the backstage… They would ask the others to sign one or two autographs, but Frank was practically torn apart. He had to get rid of the most beautiful women you’ve ever seen. Everything “What those women wanted was to get into bed with Frank Sinatra
This popularity with women was not well received by his group mates. Sometimes they came to blows with each other.


Three months later, Sinatra resigned and returned to New Jersey. The reason he gave was that he was homesick. The rest of the group finished the tour but broke up shortly after. Two of them worked as waiters and Tamburro dedicated himself to selling cars for a time. When Sinatra became famous and Tamburro asked him for a job, Frank offered to hire him as a camera assistant, something he declined.

Despite the unhappy ending, Sinatra remembered that first tour as the experience that made him stick to singing “as a job and a vital ambition.”

Information: “Sinatra:The Life“, Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, Doubleday, 2005.

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