I cherish the memory of being a friend of Frank Sinatra on a friendship level to the point where we really hung out. We worked in Vegas, we'd talk on the phone, and if I wasn't doing anything, I'd fly out, and I spent time in Palm Springs at his house - on a level the way friends would be, not with a whole crowd of people.
The '60s was a magical time in the music business. So much creativity and talent. I think a lot of it came from the fact that we had grown up before rock n' roll. We listened to all the great songwriters and big bands, songs with great lyrics and melodies. I think that really influenced everybody.
When I was a kid, I used to listen to my Emerson radio late at night under the covers. I started by listening to jazz in the late 1940s and then vocal harmony groups like the Four Freshmen, the Modernaires and the Hi-Lo's. I loved Stan Kenton's big band - with those dark chords and musicians who could swing cool with individual sounds.
I went to school to learn to be a hairdresser. I worked at a wholesale florist, where I delivered to florists all over New Jersey. I'd come home and go out to work down at the Shore. The early jobs, I remember, were $5, $6 a night. And I lived in the projects right until the time I became successful.