Personally I believe that he was not a fan of releasing imperfection. He worked hard to get things just right, and I don’t think he wanted people seeing his mistakes in that way. He never released session outtakes like so many other artists have. I think he envisioned a final product in his head and that was what he was concerned with you hearing. Additionally, I don’t know if he really understood the degree to which that would be appreciated by his fans—it just goes against the way he saw music and his own work. There’s also an emotional vulnerability and an intimacy to being in the studio, and being the very private person that he was, he may not have wanted to show that side of himself to the public, especially when recording very serious or sad things. It’s one thing to be heard but another to be seen.
Also, I think a big part of it is just that it was before his time. People of his era didn’t really keep these video catalogs of their work like modern artists tend to do. Music videos also popularized that I think. So it may have been less that Frank was consistently saying no or keeping cameras out, and more that it “wasn’t done” as much in that era. I do remember reading one story from William Claxton saying that he was asked not to photograph a certain session or something like that, but then maybe Frank only wanted his own photographers. It’s important to remember that Frank DID make an effort to keep record of his sessions through still photography. Not just his sessions but all his work and any important event in his life/career. He had specific photographers that he trusted that photographed him in sessions countless times for years and years. It’s hard to think of an album that wasn’t photographed at some point in the recording. So maybe that was just his preferred method and he stuck with it.
Traveling back to California in his place, across country, after our last stadium show, Frank didn’t want to sleep. It was late at night. He thought everyone else was asleep. I watched him. He went to the back of the plane and quietly retrieved the snack food from the galley. He got down on his hands and knees and surreptitiously stuffed everyone’s shoes with popcorn, peanuts, jelly beans, gumdrops, crackers, and nuts.
Frank Sinatra, my friend, legend, and glorious survivor, would do anything to have some fun."
Frank Sinatra leaving a party, May 6th, 1982
Frank Sinatra, Mia Farrow, and Joe E. Lewis at a party held in Lewis’s honor, Miami, January 1967
Frank Sinatra at his 74th birthday party at Chasen’s with daughter Tina and granddaughters AJ and Amanda, 1989
Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., and Robert Mitchum at the 1959 Share, Inc. benefit party in Hollywood
Frank Sinatra and Mike Romanoff speak to Louella Parsons and Spencer Tracy at Natalie Wood’s 21st birthday party in Hollywood, 1959
Frank Sinatra, Natalie Wood, and Robert Wagner at the premiere of Kings Go Forth, 1958
Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood, and Frank Sinatra at Wood’s surprise 21st birthday party at Romanoff’s in Hollywood, 1959
Dean Martin, Natalie Wood, and Frank Sinatra at the premiere of My Fair Lady, 1964
Frank Sinatra and Natalie Wood photographed by Earl Leaf at the premiere of My Fair Lady on October 28th, 1964 in Los Angeles, California
Anita Ekberg and Frank Sinatra in 4 for Texas, 1963