LEGENDARY crooner Frank Sinatra’s Ibrox stadium concert in 1990 was not the first time he had visited Glasgow.

On Monday, July 6, 1953, he performed at the Empire, part of a mini-Scottish tour which included Ayr and Dundee.

It was a strange time in life – his record sales had dropped, his movie career had stalled and his affair with Ava Gardner had seriously dented his image for many fans.

He was not Ol’ Blue Eyes at this point – the newspaper headlines called him The Voice, and Swoonatra - but as he held an informal press conference in the lobby of the Central Hotel (now the Grand Central) no-one could have guessed what lay on the horizon.

Recently signed to Capitol Records, 1953 would be the year to re-launch his career in style, with huge albums and mega-hits, and an Oscar-winning role in From Here to Eternity.

American singer, actor and producer Sinatra, who was born in 1915 and died in 1998, was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

The Evening Times reported his arrival in Glasgow back in 1953 with the headline: “The Voice Makes An Easy Entry Into Glasgow”, revealing that the singer ‘ran a small gauntlet of fans’ on his arrival at the hotel.

“Then, pipe in hand and going nicely with the help of a borrowed match, he talked easily with a reception committee of pressmen.”

He talked about golf, admitting that he played erratically, and planned to pop up to Carnoustie to catch some of his compatriots at the Open if he had time; and refused to be drawn into the big debate of the day surrounding advertising on television.

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He told the Evening Times that he was a big admirer of BBC drama, and thought it “could lick anything” he had seen in the States.

The report continued: “He talked, only a little and under prompting, about Frank Sinatra. The future of Frank, as he sees it, seems to mean less and less singing and more and more comedy…The pipe in hand Frank is a remarkably changed character from the chip on the shoulder Frank we have read about. Glasgow should like him more than somewhat.”

At the Empire that night, Sinatra wisecracked and sang his way through his set, dazzling his audience with accompaniment from pianist Bill Miller and the Billy Ternent Orchestra. Among the numbers were classic songs like Old Man River, September Song, Nancy With the Laughing Face, Birth of the Blues and Embraceable You.

The supporting set, reported the Evening Times the next day, included “funster George Martin,” jugglers The Three Lederers, roller skaters Williams and Sand and Jackie Ross.

The reviewer said: “Mr Sinatra can croon - no doubt about that - but there is also a rich personality in that slender-built frame which can keep up a heavy barrage of cool, casual repartee for an hour or more.. He even has a chat with us over a nice cup of tea while taking a breather - “it helps the chords” he says.

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“But it’s when he drools over Mr Mike, with refrains like Embrace Me and Nancy, that the voice really scores and oh! Frankie, how the audience loved it!”

Were you there when Frank Sinatra came to Glasgow? Do you remember the old Empire Theatre? Which famous faces have you seen in the city over the decades?

Share your stories and photos by emailing ann.fotheringham@glasgowtimes.co.uk or write to Ann Fotheringham, Glasgow Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3 QB.