Frank Sinatra’s ‘Sinatra at the Sands’ Turns 50: The Whiskey-Swilling, Joke-Cracking American Icon at His Peak

Travel back in time to 1966: Lyndon B. Johnson is in the White House. The Space Race and Cold War are reaching their fever pitches, as troops surge in Vietnam and the Air Force bombs Hanoi. NASA is in an all-out sprint to the moon, determined to arrive before the USSR and make human history. The Beatles are at peak ubiquity — John Lennon stirs controversy by claiming the Fab Four are more “popular than Jesus.” In the ongoing struggle for Civil Rights, race riots erupt across the country while Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. builds momentum for his movement, delivering speech after speech. Colorful Mod clothing from Swingin’ London is all the rage. LSD arrives and the hippy and psychedelic movements take shape.

Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Frank Sinatra and his tuxedo-wearing Rat Pack cronies, including Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr., are holding court on the Strip, toasting their dwindling youths: The bright neon lights glint. The booze flows. The wiseguy mafiosos scheme. And Sinatra at the Sands, the singer’s definitive (and first) live album, captures it all flawlessly.

The legendary singer’s career spanned decades, eras and personas, but when we think of Frank Sinatra we think of this Frank Sinatra — the whiskey-swilling, joke-cracking singer and entertainer that has become an American icon.

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