EXCLUSIVE: Frank Stallone doesn’t want to be known as Rocky’s little brother -- but make no mistake, he’s proud of his family’s legacy.
The younger brother of Sylvester Stallone is the subject of a new documentary titled "Stallone: Frank, That Is," which details his decades-long career as a singer and actor. It features interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richie Sambora, John Oates, and yes, Sly, too.
"I had done a few little guest spots, like the Lynda Carter specials," Stallone told Fox News about his acting. "I then studied acting. But I kept busy. And so I actually learned on the job. I’ve done about 77 movies. A lot of them were lousy movies -- I’m not gonna sit here and sugar-coat it. But they were all learning experiences for me."
"And these roles weren’t given to me because of my name," the 70-year-old continued. "Like ‘Barfly’ for example, I auditioned for that. And to this day people talked about it. And along the way, I’ve done some good films. The one thing I regret about my film career is that I somewhat abandoned my music career, which still really bugs me because I shouldn’t have done that."
"But here’s the thing, I was having these hits and then nothing was happening," Stallone admitted. I couldn’t even get an agent. So I figure, if they want me to do movies, I’ll study and do the best that I can. And things move forward. A lot of good scripts and a lot of not so good scripts came my way. But my goal was to stay in the game. And no matter what, I always returned to the music."
While the 70-year-old first pursued music, he made his big-screen debut alongside his Sylvester in 1976’s "Rocky" where he showed off his singing during one memorable doo-wop scene.
"I was in a group called Valentine and we were pretty successful -- if you want to consider successful making a hundred bucks a week," the Golden Globe nominee chuckled. "We had pretty successful gigs in Jersey. My brother then calls me and goes, ‘I’m making a boxing movie. Wanna write music for it?’ I said, ‘Well, that’s not really my expertise, writing music for a boxing movie. But I said alright. Then he goes, ‘I want you to recreate something that you used to do when you were a kid singing on the street corner doing doo-wop.’"
Stallone agreed and wrote some music. But then his brother went radio silent -- until Sylvester told him to come on down to Philadelphia where "Rocky" was being filmed. Stallone said his bandmates were hesitant because they were now making $140 a night.
"I’m talking $140 for the whole band, including the manager," Stallone laughed.
But then the actor made his younger sibling an offer he couldn’t refuse.
"He goes, ‘OK, we’ll give you 140,’" Stallone explained. "I said, ‘Well, we’re already making that.’ Then he goes, ‘140 each.’ Well, that changed everything!"
But bringing "Rocky" to life was far from glamorous. Stallone said it was freezing at the time and filming took place "in a really bad, rough neighborhood."
And while no one predicted "Rocky" would become so iconic, Stallone said he had a feeling something unexpected was going to happen.
"I remember when we first saw it before it came out," said Stallone. "I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I just felt there was something special about this. But we all thought this film would make the money back at drive-ins and such. And as for me, I just sang in it and didn’t give it another thought after that. It turned out to be the last time the Stallone name was unknown. From there, it just blew up."
The performer admitted that it was "frustrating" when people would solely ask "What’s it like being Rocky’s brother?" when he went out to perform. And meanwhile, Sylvester, now 74, had skyrocketed to superstardom.
Still, Stallone stressed he was proud of his brother and the work they've done together. In fact, he even appeared in 1983’s "Staying Alive," a sequel to 1977’s "Saturday Night Fever" that was written and directed by Sly. The song "Far From Over" even became a hit. But despite the song’s popularity, it wasn’t nominated for an Oscar.
"That’s the only curse word in my documentary," said Stallone. "I got screwed up… It was such a hit that I had no doubt in my mind that I would get an Oscar nomination. But then my brother calls me and goes, ‘I got bad news.’ My initial reaction was, ‘Oh God, who died? What happened?’ Then he goes, ‘They took another song to be nominated.’ I just thought it was ridiculous. I felt like they bounced me out. And it would have been kind of cool to have two brothers nominated for Oscars, you know? And the song was such a success. It took the wind out of my sails if you want me to be honest with you."
But Stallone said he never thought about quitting his love of music. And his efforts ultimately paid off when he got the stamp of approval from one fan.
"I remember I was at the Hollywood Bowl on a really bad date," he said. "I mean, the girl is basically ignoring me. But here we were at this show watching Don Rickles. Then Frank Sinatra comes out with his Jack Daniel’s and goes ‘Is Frankie Stallone out there?’ I thought I was gonna have a heart attack. I just kind of stood up.
Then he goes, ‘I heard that new album you did with Billy May. Knocked my socks off, kid.’ I just thought, ‘Oh. My. God.’ And now the girl is all over me like a cheap suit! I was just so smitten. It’s really cool to be recognized by one of the greatest singers of the 20th century."
Today, Stallone is still making music and he has no plans to slow down.
"I believe this is a gift from God," he said. "I believe this is my journey. This is what I’m meant to do. I’ve always enjoyed it. It was always easy for me. It’s where I feel the most comfortable, being on stage. There’s no turning back for me."
"Stallone: Frank, That Is" is available on VOD and Digital.