Sinatra and Me: In The Wee Small Hours

Tony Oppedisano with Mary Jane Ross. Scribner, $30 (320p) ISBN 978-1-982-15178-2

Oppedisano debuts with a remarkable look at the final years of one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. The author was in his early 20s playing gigs at jazz clubs in New York when he met Frank Sinatra in 1972, “in the middle of his self-imposed (and short-lived) retirement,” and became part of the singer’s entourage. By the mid-’70s, he’d joined Sinatra’s comeback tour as road manager. Throughout, Oppedisano describes countless late-night sessions spent talking and drinking with the notorious night owl, reminiscing about the singer’s past glories performing with friend and prankster Dean Martin (who once gave Sinatra a mood ring so he could “know whether I’m addressing Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde”). In a moving recollection of the singer’s final concerts, he recalls Sinatra’s decision to wind down his performances after returning from a tour in Japan in 1994: “He wasn’t willing to perform as a shadow of his former self.” As Sinatra’s health deteriorated, Oppedisano became a trusted aide to his daughters, Nancy and Tina, and to Sinatra’s wife, Barbara—the only other person with him when the singer, whom Oppedisano “loved like a second father,” died. This fascinating and intimate account stands out among the dozens of books written about the celebrated legend. Agent: Alan Nevins, Renaissance Literary and Talent. (June)