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Wednesday, 18 April, 2001, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Sinatra is voice of the century
Frank Sinatra
Sinatra: an idol from the 1940s to the 1990s
Frank Sinatra may have come from humble origins, but he has just been crowned the most popular voice of the century.

Sinatra came out top of a BBC Radio 2 Voices of the Century chart compiled by writer and radio DJ Paul Gambaccini.

Click here to see the BBC Radio 2 top 10 Voices of the Century.

"It was an emphatic victory for Fabulous Frank," said Gambaccini. "It wasn't even close."

Elvis Presley came in second, followed by Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby.

Some 44,756 votes were cast by the public, but BBC Radio 2 also consulted a panel of singers and music experts.

Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley's album sales still make millions
Sinatra is not a surprise winner - the man who sang such classics as My Way and Strangers in the Night was adored by millions.

The New Jersey-born son of poor Italian immigrants started out as a singing waiter, but by his twenties he was performing with Bing Crosby and the famous singing Rat Pack.

His cheeky good looks drove the girls wild and landed him film roles in acclaimed films including From Here To Eternity (1953), which won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Unsurprisingly his best-known film role combined acting and singing in Guys and Dolls opposite Marlon Brando.

Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby performed duets with Sinatra
Sinatra's private life was notorious.

He had a tempestuous marriage to actress Ava Gardener and his marriages to Nancy - the mother of his three children - and actress Mia Farrow also broke down.

He finally settled down with Barbara, the widow of Zeppo Marx - but his children contested his bequests to her in his will.

Sinatra spent much of his career reacting to sounds and rhythms that he did not like.

"The most brutal, ugly, degenerate, vicious form of expression it has been my displeasure to hear," Sinatra wrote of rock 'n' roll.

Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald: Fourth on the list
Interestingly the number two Voice of the Century according to the poll was a Rock 'n'Roll hero - Elvis Presley.

Presley's continuing popularity put him at top place in a recent Forbes Magazine list of highest earning dead celebrities.

Another crossing on the top ten list was Presley and the number six - John Lennon.

Lennon met Presley with The Beatles in 1965 and he later wrote that Presley "was only one person in the United States that we really wanted to meet".

The most popular woman on the list was Ella Fitzgerald, who was ranked fourth.

Gold albums

Fitzgerald was known for her clear voice which could glide from low notes to high, from be-bop to ballads. The so-called "first lady of song" died aged 78 in 1996.

Most of the top 10 singers are now dead with two exceptions - both female.

Soul singer Aretha Franklin came in at number seven and she plans to expand an extraordinary career by recording an album of operatic arias later this year.

And the popular singer and actress, Barbra Streisand, came in at number nine.

With 43 gold albums, Streisand is exceeded only by Elvis Presley in the all-time charts.

1: Frank Sinatra

2: Elvis Presley

3: Nat King Cole

4: Ella Fitzgerald

5: Bing Crosby

6: John Lennon (The Beatles and solo)

7: Aretha Franklin

8: Billie Holliday

9: Barbra Streisand

10: Freddie Mercury (Queen and solo)

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See also:

17 Apr 01 | Music
Picture gallery: Frank Sinatra
30 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Sinatra 'loathed' My Way
16 May 98 | Sinatra
Frank Sinatra obituary
15 May 98 | Sinatra
Frank Sinatra's love and marriage
21 May 98 | Sinatra
Cannes mourns Frank Sinatra
14 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Lennon named greatest singer
12 Aug 98 | Entertainment
Frank Sinatra Jr blocks kidnap movie
13 Nov 98 | Entertainment
Fans flock for Frank discussion
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