It’s the early hours of the morning. A car screeches to a halt outside a stylish Californian bungalow. Angry footsteps take us inside and the place erupts in one of showbiz history’s most famous ‘domestic incidents’. The couple in question is Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. She was convinced Frank was sleeping with Lana Turner and swung by hoping to catch them in the act. What she found was Frank, innocent, but so enraged he threw her clothes out in the driveway and a champagne bottle across the bathroom, cracking the sink. I’ve just washed my hands in that sink and yes, the crack is still there. Being here, in the famous Palm Springs home of my hero Frank Sinatra is dream come true and I can scarcely believe it. I got the call a few months ago from the Los Angeles Jazz Institute who were putting together a weeklong festival celebrating the music of Sinatra and my name came up. Luckily for me I was available and so here I am, soaking in the same atmosphere enjoyed by countless guests before me like Cary Grant, Dean Martin, Bob Hope and Greta Garbo.
Designed by Stewart Williams in 1947 it is a perfect example of contemporary architecture of the period, but what strikes you most is what a lovely, comfortable home it is. This is no cool Hollywood showpiece – it’s a modest, cozy hideaway, a place to relax and enjoy friends. Outside by the piano-shaped pool wait three stellar musicians, two of whom played for Frank. It’s a warm starry night, the audience is seated and I take my cue for one of Frank’s favourite songs ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’. I’ll certainly be counting sheep, and my blessings tonight.