A former barber and charity fund raiser who found fame as a Frank Sinatra impersonator has marked two decades performing as Ol’Blue Eyes.
Phil Fryer has performed across the world and remains a regular fixture across West Yorkshire but still remembers his shock at finding success.
Phil said: “I was on holiday with my family and friends in 1996 and one night after a few beers in a karaoke bar I plucked up the courage to sing a song.
“Weeks and months went by with lots of failure at certain songs - then I discovered swing songs, and the King of swing himself Frank Sinatra.”
Receiving help from his friend, a club singer, he started to regularly perform in front of an audience.
At the Commercial Inn, Churwell, Phil performed his first show while “shaking like a leaf,” but it inspired him to pursue it further.
He would take monthly bookings at the Crystal Rooms, Batley, with the Reg Hargreaves Trio, gaining more experience signing with a live band.
This was followed by more jobs at Pontins in Blackpool, where he performed in front of 500 people at a time.
By 1999 Mr Fryer was approached by an agent who offered to help him get further coverage, within weeks his story was published in national tabloids.
Soon afterwards a Yorkshire television company offered to produce a documentary about him and a stroke of good luck meant he was also booked in for shows in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
A week’s worth of shows were captured in the documentary, called Just to be Frank - Sun, Sand and Sinatra.
Mr Fryer said: “I was in shock, one minute I was singing in the local pub then a film crew was following me all the way to the United Arab Emirates, I felt like this couldn’t be happening to me.
“The trip was such a fantastic experience, the film crew followed our every move and within weeks it was shown on TV.”
Since his time on the small screen Phil has put together his own five-piece swing band and continued to play across the world.
In between trips to Milan, Switzerland and Monaco he has been called on to sing at special events, such as TV presenter Holly Willoughby’s wedding.
Phil this year began attempting to book more shows at care home. He hopes that his performances as Frank Sinatra will help the elderly, particularly those suffering from Alzheimers, to remember happier times.
In one particular case he was approached by St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds who asked if he could perform for a lady whose last wish was to hear Sinatra sing.
Mr Fryer ensured he was there the next day, travelling straight after another show.
He said: ”Singing brings so many memories back for them and I am happy to be the one who can do this for them.
“I sat at the end of her bed, spoke to her and sang The Way You Look Tonight with no mic and the music on my phone.
“This was something you don’t expect to happen but the feeling I got for doing that for her was better than anything money can buy.”
Filmed by the matron at the hospice, Phil’s performance was put up on the hospice website, attracting 60,000 views.
His continuing success has left him with a full diary, with weddings booked up to 2019.
This month he also plays at La Vechia Scuola in York, Bibis restaurant in Leeds and he also regularly performs at the Manor Golf Club in Drighlington.
He will also soon be marking his 16th annual show at Morley Town Hall on Wednesday, December 7.
Tickets are £10 from Althams Travel, Queen street, Morley, or Eventbrite.co.uk, by searching Christmas with Sinatra.
To keep track of what Phil is up to visit his website www.justtobefrank.co.uk