To hear it from Bill Richardson — aka crooner Jose Sinatra — his destiny was decided by a chance highway encounter. “The Beatles passed my family in a limo as we were returning to San Diego from Disneyland on August 28, 1965. They were on their way to play Balboa Stadium. We waved, they waved. I didn’t wash my eyes for about 20 years.”
There was a time in the ’70s and ’80s when his musical aspirations took a backseat to running local movie houses such as the Ken and the Guild, where he booked everything from midnight cult attractions to arthouse classics, grindhouse cheapies, and even the occasional X-rated smoker. Then came a popular comedic lounge act launched with likeminded bookseller-turned-guitarist Jan Tonnesen (aka Troy Dante), known to play everything from a screaming version of Minnie Ripperton’s “Lovin’ You” to James Bond themes, though that act split in 2007.
Jose Sinatra and the Troy Dante Inferno play a James Bond parody
“The friendship of Troy Dante, my musical partner for nearly 25 years, is a loss that refuses to heal,” says Richardson. “I miss him and I miss our band, the Troy Dante Inferno. I also miss the Beatles and Tower Records.”
Richardson has spent over a dozen years hosting a Sunday-night karaoke session at Winstons. “Jose Sinatra’s OB-oke was weekly from the start, which I think was in the autumn of 2003. That’s a lot of Sundays, and I’ve only missed one.”
So, what are OB-oke’s most frequent selections? “Over the years, the top three have been ‘Sweet Caroline,’ ‘What’s Up?’ and ‘Plush,’ though they’re sort of phasing out nowadays. There are a couple songs that actually make me nauseous, but I refuse to name them and arm the odd belligerent drunk.”
The man clearly shuns change. He rarely uses computers and has lived around North Park for 39 years. “I love Morley Field and Paras newsstand.” However, “If I could, I would wipe out all taggers, furniture and Christmas-tree dumpers, and neighbors who store arsenals of cars on my street.”
In addition, “I’ve been stolen from more than anyone I’ve ever known. Money, books, posters, an amazing number of bikes, my pickup truck three times...you name it, I’m a popular target of thieves. No one, however, can ever take away my beauty, my red-hot sensuality, or my modesty.”