Recorded near the end of Sinatra's career, it consists of duets between Sinatra and other guest star singers from various genres; Sinatra personally chose the performers. It was advertised as “The Recording Event of The Decade.”
The album was a commercial success, reaching #2 on the Billboard albums chart and #5 in the UK and selling over 3 million copies in the U.S.
It received mixed critical notices, with complaints stemming from Phil Ramone's style of production and a lack of personal collaboration, since the guest singers were not physically present with Sinatra but instead were singing along to his pre-recorded vocal parts over a digital audio telecommunications link from .
The cover art displays a specially commissioned painting of Frank Sinatra by LeRoy Neiman.
Its sequel, Duets II, was released the following year. Both were packaged together in a "90th Birthday Limited Collector's Edition" released in 2005, that included an unreleased duet recording of "My Way" with Luciano Pavarotti.