WINNING a talent quest in Coolangatta in 1957 catapulted a 16-year-old Lynn Rogers into a musical career that would see her meet the late great Frank Sinatra and sing alongside Sammy Davis Jnr.
Now at 79, Rogers shows no signs of resting her vocal chords despite an impressive career spanning 63 years.
“I am only semi-retired, still singing here and there, not pursuing a career any more, but I still love singing,” the Seachange Arundel resident said.
“The occasional jazz gigs, and the big band gigs come in and I am more than happy to do them.”
Finding fame in the 1960s with her chart-topping hit Just Loving You, she jetted off to the US a few years later and in 1965 regularly worked at the Latin Quartet in Las Vegas. Later she was signed to the Astor Records and released three singles and an EP.
“I was above The Easybeats, and back in those days, it was male groups that dominated the charts. It was very unusual to have a solo female singer,” Rogers said.
One night, the energetic vocalist befriended Sammy Davis Jnr after he got up during her show and started singing That Old Black Magic with her.
“Sammy was appearing in a show at the Palladium in London called Golden Boy, which was about a boxer, but I could never understand why because you’d blow on him and he’d fall over,” Rogers laughed.
Sammy Davis Jnr took the stunning singer under his wing and was instrumental in getting her on stage at the Star Dust Hotel in New York City.
“One night he introduced me to Frank Sinatra. I was so gobsmacked I accidentally spat across the table on Frank. I was stumbling over all my words because I just adore him,” she said.
“Even to this day, I can’t believe I spat on Frank Sinatra.”
Upon her return to Australia for a brief stint, not realising the magnitude of her success and status back home, she was greeted by national media as she disembarked her plane.
“I was walking along the tarmac at the airport, and all these reporters and paparazzi were trying to get photos of someone, so I stood to the side, so I wasn’t in their shot,” Rogers said.
“Well, on the news that night you can see me step aside and a journalist turns to me and says ‘Welcome back Ms Rogers, we’re taking photos of you’. I could not believe it.”
Rogers said Israel was her favourite place to perform, saying it felt like home.
“I was the first cabaret performer to appear there since the war, at the Magic Carpet Room in Tel Aviv-Yafo,” she said.
“I had been away from Australia for so long and when I came out on stage everyone started singing Waltzing Matilda. It was very emotional.”
Asked about her fondest memories from the 60s, Rogers said “if you can remember anything from the 60s, you weren’t really there”.
The songstress, who grew up in Mt Isa, said she felt sorry for young talented people who didn’t make the cut in singing contests because they had nowhere to learn their craft.
“The wonderful venues I sang in very early in my career are not there any more,” she said.
“Oh and by the way, to me, today’s music is as wonderful as it has always been — different, but wonderful. Music of all kinds does the heart and soul good and brings people together like nothing else can.”