Frank Sinatra records first solo tracks
On January 26, 1940, Sinatra made his first public appearance with the Dorsey band at the Coronado Theater in Rockford, IL. In his first year with Dorsey, Sinatra released more than forty songs, with "I'll Never Smile Again" topping the charts for twelve weeks in mid-July.
Due to a punitive contract that awarded Dorsey ⅓ of Sinatra's lifetime earnings in the entertainment industry, Sinatra's relationship with Tommy Dorsey was tenuous. In January 1942, Sinatra recorded his first solo sessions without the Dorsey band (but with Dorsey's arranger Axel Stordahl and with Dorsey's approval). These sessions were released commercially on the Bluebird label. Sinatra left the Dorsey band late in 1942 in an incident that started rumors of Sinatra's mob involvement. According to contemporary Hearst newspaper accounts at the time mobster Sam Giancana convinced Dorsey to let Sinatra out of his contract for a few thousand dollars through coercion, an event famously fictionalized in the movie The Godfather. According to Nancy Sinatra's biography, the Hearst rumors were started because of Frank's Democratic politics. In actuality, the contract was bought out by MCA founder Jules Stein for the princely sum of $75,000.
In January 1942, he tested the waters for a solo career by recording a four-song session arranged and conducted by Axel Stordahl that included Cole Porter's "Night and Day," which became his first chart entry under his own name in March 1942. Soon after, he gave Dorsey notice. Sinatra left the Dorsey band in September 1942. The recording ban called by the American Federation of Musicians, which had begun the previous month, initially prevented him from making records, but he appeared on a 15-minute radio series, Songs By Sinatra, from October through the end of the year and also did a few live dates. His big breakthrough came due to his engagement as a support act to Benny Goodman at the Paramount Theatre in New York, which began on New Year's Eve. It made him a popular phenomenon, the first real teen idol, with school girls swooning in the aisles.