He was a monumental man in an average frame. He was a powerfully sane, contemplative, soulful, passionate, caring, meditative man who never lacked for a kind word, or a new friendship to offer. This is the Franko I knew and remembered.
Sadly, the eventually oxygen-dependent artist died during a power outage in Key West. The island's notorious "black-outs" were common. Regular even. His unit required power, which it didn't have for longer than Franko could survive without it. If for only four minutes longer. I'm still not over the tragedy of circumstance which extinguished one of the brightest lights the world, or certainly I, had ever known.
When I was living and performing in Key West, I had many opportunities to sing with him at the piano. He'd often play at "The American Bar" restaurant or at Flagler's at, what is now, the Waldorf-Astoria resort.
Franko was an acclaimed concert and recording artist, but we never had a change to "work" together professionally. We got close once, but schedules wouldn't align.
I had dreamed, discussed, and plotted a time when we would perform a complete concert, or recital together (since he is a classical pianist as well), instead of just two or three tunes at a time--- informally. But that opportunity never came.
Earth Day, The Environment: Two of his Greatest Passions.
The Time Has Come was chosen as the first-ever theme title and song for the 25th anniversary of Earth Day in the U.S. and abroad by the president, board and staff at Earth Day, USA in New Hampshire and Earth Day Int'l in California.
The Men, and the Tea
He was a generous, mellow, laid-back host and we spent hours talking about music, the garden, the FUNKY loft, his being a father, his fantabulous wife, Gail Lima... his background and career.
We spoke of meditation and spirituality. His eyes GLOWED when he spoke about Earth Day, and all the children that recorded it. He also glowed when he spoke about Gail. I have spoken with her once or twice since his passing, but have lost contact, having moved again. I will locate her again. She has such a sweet, soothing voice, spirit, and energy!
Here was a man, so unlike the many other people I encountered in life, but among a number of equally brilliant, and passionate artists on the island called Cayo Hueso.
A Musical Magician with a heart, and hands, of Gold!
Singing with Franko was transcendent!
I have told absolutely everyone who'd listen, that "it was like being CARRIED, from note to note, like being placed from cloud to cloud, in the palm of his hand".
Singing with Franko was transcendent! I have told absolutely everyone who'd listen, that "it was like being CARRIED, from note to note, like from cloud to cloud, in the palm of his hand".
He made it effortless to sing. we seldom needed to look at each other. If I was standing in the bow of the piano, he could see me breathe, and I could HEAR HIM breathing his phrasing. We never once rehearsed. I'd go where he "played me to go", which was different every time. I followed his lead, and he, mine.
If a crowd was loving it, I'd only need to hold up two or three fingers to let him know how many times I wanted to build or repeat the final hook before the close.
In my entire career, I can think of only a handful of times where that blessing has happened with pianists. With Franko, John Bianculli, Robin Kaplan, David Duvall, Bobby Nesbitt, Larry Smith, and Tamir Hendelmann (who was my musical director and pianist for the concert pictured above).
And so another "farewell".
Each year I sit and smile, remembering how we'd talked and talked in the garden that day, and being too polite to mention that my tea had gone cold. I wouldn't interrupt his stories and his wisdom. I hanged on his every word as he shared his experiences.
And at the moment a tear comes to my eye, sincerely, because the Earth, sweet Mother Earth, lost another of her children far too soon.
I miss you Sir. I know I'm not alone in that.
Happy Earth Day!