The return of the Chairman of the Board
Tony Sands has taken on one of the toughest assignments in show business. His job is to be Frank Sinatra and for the past 25 years he has been doing his best to deliver Ol’ Blue Eyes to audiences.
Sands will be bringing his show with “The Rat Pack” of Dean Martin (Robert Cabella) and Sammy Davis Jr. (Jeff Foote) impersonators to the Moose Lodge Entertainment Center Jan. 26 and 27 to kick off a seventh season of Yesteryear Entertainment’s impersonator shows on Fort Myers Beach.
It’s been more than 20 years since Sinatra passed away, yet he remains an iconic figure. Sands said “the way he carried himself on stage” is one of the reasons his memory has endured so strongly. “He was very charismatic, very natural.” Sinatra’s songs are still highly visible on television and in commercials, he noted.
An appreciation for Sinatra started early for Sands, who grew up in an Italian neighborhood in South Philadelphia during the 1960s, before moving to Cherry Hill, New Jersey. He remembers his parents listening to the “Chairman of the Board” in the house when he was an adolescent. They would tune into “The Sounds of Sinatra” radio show with Sid Mark. “I fell in love with the music,” he said. “He painted me a picture. I knew what he was singing about.”
Sands saw Sinatra perform about a half dozen times, the first time as a teenager in New Jersey. Sands used to work in the antique business and played in a rock band before finding his niche singing Sinatra tunes. He said his big break came when he was discovered by Tropicana Atlantic City while singing in a restaurant.
In addition to his solo shows, Sands said he has been performing “Rat Pack” shows for about 15 years including more than a year with the current lineup. Sands says he does more than 100 shows a year, mostly on the East Coast.
“It’s a tough business,” Sands said. “If you want to get into music full-time you really have to concentrate on it all the time.”
The Rat Pack show on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27 will feature a mix of songs among the three. Sands will sing several songs on his own. Davis will also tap dance and there will be a lot of joking around in the manner the original pals did during their 1960s glory during the Las Vegas years. The show will run close to two hours.
“These guys had a real special bond,” Sands said. “When you went to Vegas, you made sure you saw The Rat Pack. They kind of ruled Vegas.”
As for Sinatra himself, Sands sees him as “a guy who lived a life that he wanted to live. He did it his way. He was a very charitable guy. He helped a lot of people. He helped Sammy when he was down and out.”