Frank Sinatra signs with Columbia Records
In 1943, he signed with Columbia Records as a solo artist with initially great success, particularly during the musicians' recording strikes.
Sinatra signed with Columbia on June 1, 1943, with the musicians' strike ten months old. And while no new records had been issued during the strike, he had been performing on the radio (on Your Hit Parade), and on stage. Columbia wanted to get new recordings of their growing star as fast as possible, so Sinatra convinced them to hire Alec Wilder as arranger and conductor for several sessions with a vocal group called the Bobby Tucker Singers. These first sessions were on June 7, June 22, August 5, and November 10, 1943. Of the nine songs recorded during these sessions, seven charted on the best–selling list.
In 1943, Sinatra signed a contract with Columbia Records, and was instantly successful. His career was no doubt given a further boost owing to the fact that there was a musicians’ strike in progress at the time his first records came out. He scored several hits during the strike, including the sensational “Saturday Night is the Loneliest Night of The Week”. Frank also starred on many radio programs during the 1940s, and soon began to be thought of as the nation’s second most popular male singer, running a close second to Bing Crosby, whose audiences at the New York Paramount he had actually succeeded in topping.
“Sinatra-Mania” was now in full swing - Frank scored a phenomenal 23 top ten singles between 1940 and early 1943 alone: to show their appreciation of his talent, his American fans affectionately nicknamed him “The Voice”.
In 1943, Sinatra made his debut at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. He then caused a sensation whilst playing to an audience of over 10,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl. Frank’s concert was so profitable that the Bowl’s financial difficulties were resolved in one stroke. Wowed by Frank’s relaxed charm, Hollywood producers soon came knocking on his door. He signed a seven-year contract with RKO, and appeared in a string of light musical films, including “Step Lively” and “Higher and Higher.”
A strike by the American Federation of Musicians against the major record companies curtailed Sinatra's recording output during most of 1943–44. His solo recording career for Columbia Records began in earnest in November 1944, when he compensated for lost time by recording dozens of sides within a three-month period. Songs such as “If You Are But a Dream,” “ There's No You,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” “Nancy,” and his theme song at that time, “Put Your Dreams Away,” are some of the first recordings in what would come to be known to fans as the “Columbia era” (1943–52). His chief arranger during these years was Axel Stordahl, who also left Dorsey in late 1942 to work exclusively with Sinatra. Stordahl's spare string arrangements on beautiful recordings such as “You Go to My Head” (1945), “These Foolish Things” (1945), and “That Old Feeling” (1947) defined the sound of Sinatra's Columbia years.