Frank Bennett – May I Be Frank
Frank Bennett is an Australian jazz singer (whose stage name is a pun on the names Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett). His vocal style is clearly influenced by the two singers and the music of the 1940s and 1950s. He is known for his big band renditions of rock and pop singles, including “Creep” by Radiohead, “Better Man” by Pearl Jam, and “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. His version of “Creep” was voted into the 1996 Triple J Hottest 100 list. He has received four ARIA nominations.
Bennett’s following is largest in Australia, especially in his hometown of Sydney. He grew up in the Sydney suburb of Birrong (from an Aboriginal word for star) and attended Birrong Primary and Birrong Boys High School. He played drums in his early teens. After leaving school in 1975 he found work as a storeman and labourer. He started learning saxophone in 1977 and within a year began playing in various bands performing on the Sydney pub and club circuit from the late 1970s through to the early 1990s. Most notably, The Layabouts, The Eddys, The Zarzoff Brothers, The Foreday Riders, The Allniters, Club Ska, Paris Green, Bellydance and many others. He began singing professionally several years later under the pseudonym Tony Sinatra. In 1996 he was offered a recording contract with Polygram/Universal Music and after choosing the new name of Frank Bennett recorded ‘Five O’clock Shadow’, an album of ‘lounge’ versions of contemporary popular songs. Two years later, he recorded a second album with EMI Records entitled ‘Cash Landing’ with the primary theme being money and/or avarice. In 1998 he opened for Tom Jones at Sydney’s Star City and Burt Bacharach on Bacharach’s Australian tour. He appears as in the 2000 Australian film The Dish as Barry Steele, a singer who sounds “a little like Frank Sinatra”. He has also performed on saxophone with Daddy Cool and Glenn Shorrock of The Little River Band.
In 2002 Bennett formed the band Big Wheel with the celebrated Australian harmonicist Jim Conway. The band recorded the album ‘Little Story’ released in 2003 which received an ARIA nomination for Best Blues & Roots Album and was voted best Australian Blues release for 2003 by the readers of Rhythms Magazine.