Carmel Magazine

Summer/Fall 2020

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opening up a whole new avenue for his work. He eventually contributed to more than a dozen Hollywood films. As one might imagine, considering the company he's kept, Coates has many, many interesting tales to tell. One Sinatra story stands out. "I was still new in town, and not having established myself as a full- time songwriter, I was working at a Union 76 gas station to make ends meet," he says. The phone rang, and on the other end was a member of Sinatra's crew saying that Frank was going to record "London by Night" and that he would like to have the songwriter present for the event. Now. Protesting that he was still in his gas jockey uniform did no good. He should come anyway. Upon arriving at the legendary Capitol Records' Studio A on Vine Street in Hollywood, the young man was given the side-eye by a group of the singer's posse, all dressed to the nines in suits, just like Frank. Coates recalls, "As he was getting ready to record, he spotted me and pulled up a chair beside the microphone saying, 'Sit here kid, and don't make a sound.' I was quiet as a church mouse throughout the entire session. The folks on the sidelines were left wondering, 'Who is this person in the Union 76 uniform?' since few Coates has many famous friends. (Clockwise from top left) with jazz icon Diane Schuur on his wedding day; with singers Rebecca Parris and Shirley Horn; in the recording studio with Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun; with superstar Natalie Cole. 134 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 2 0 Sinatra was charmed and urged the songwriter to come to America where he could help the young man — he called Coates "Kid" for the rest of his life — further his career, an offer he gladly accepted. It was a wise move. Photos: Courtesy of The Carroll Coates Collection

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