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I have lost an irreplaceable friend. The Great American Song has lost the greatest lover and best practitioner it ever had. I truly loved Frank Sinatra for his infinite generosity and enormous heart. To me Sinatra the man, father, grandfather and friend eclipsed even his talent as a gifted and natural actor and performer, and the most important, successful and influential singer of this century.

The best American export has always been our music. For more than 50 years Frank Sinatra has made the songs of my country's best songwriters into standards around the world. He has kept alive the works of Kern; Gershwin; Porter; Rodgers, Hart & Hammerstein; Mercer; Cahn; Styne; Berlin; Arlen; Loesser; Warren; McHugh; Schwartz & Dietz, and Ellington. And he has propelled the careers of Jimmy Webb, Paul Simon, Joe Reposo, Jobim and very definitely my own.

Of course Sinatra lives and will always be alive because of his recordings and films. His body of work is without doubt the most comprehensive of any entertainer ever. That is a fact that can not possibly be challenged. Our great grief is eased by the legacy, the gift to us all, of hundreds of documented performances on record, video and film of one of Americas and the worlds great, great talents. It is hard to imagine a world without him, of course it never will be.

In 1990 I wrote "It is rare, if it has ever happened before, that the industry of a single man can tell us so much about our hopes and aspirations; the dreams we dreamed, the things we wished for. . . and the stuff out there that often eluded our grasp. All in the guise of a song. Sinatra remains the patron saint of every popular singer who has opened his mouth since he first opened his. He is the chairman of the board and disenfranchised of all ages."

Frank Sinatra fought fad and fancy, bucked trends by sticking to what he knew and liked best. He survived his major producers, conductors and contemporaries in the vocal field. Because of him The Great American Song will not just survive, but prosper forever.

To his grandchildren, his children and his widow all of us send our love and support and most especially our thanks for helping to keep Frank Sinatra with us for so long. Great lives always seem brief, however long they last. We can ill afford to loose our great explorers, pioneers and inventors. Frank was all three. He invented phrasing and singing on the vowels, he explored lyrics as no one ever did and he was the pioneer of the concept album.

Frank Sinatra was and is a great, good man. Nothing more or less needs saying about him

                                             -Rod McKuen, 15 May,1998

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