Singer, producer, songwriter
While Lee Hazlewood isn't a particularly well known name in music, he is an iconoclastic renaissance man, influential for generations of other musicians from Phil Spector to Sonic Youth. He is perhaps best known for discovering guitar phenom Duane Eddy and for his work with Nancy Sinatra—he produced the majority of her recordings and wrote what would be her biggest hit, "These Boots Are Made for Walking."
Hazlewood was born on July 9, 1929, in Mannford, Oklahoma. Hazlewood's family moved a great deal as his father was a wildcatter, an independent oilman. He lived in Arkansas and Texas, residing primarily in Port Neches, Texas, during his formative years. In school, he played percussion.
He briefly attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, before being conscripted for military service. He worked for Armed Services Radio in Japan and was also assigned to active duty in Korea. Around this time, Hazlewood married Naomi Shackleford, his high school sweetheart.
After his discharge from the military, Hazlewood attended broadcasting school in California. His first job as a disc jockey was at country and western station KCKY in Coolidge, Arizona, in 1953. He developed a cult following. Among those listening was local teenager Duane Eddy. The two became friends and began working on songs together, enlisting piano player James "Jimmy Dell" Delbridge as well. They began recording and frequently performed as a country trio in Phoenix.
Hazlewood moved to KRUX in Phoenix in 1955. He had the distinction of being the first DJ in that city to play Elvis Presley, and he started playing records in the new genre known as rock 'n' roll. It was while in radio that he began experimenting with recording techniques. He soon started a record label called Viv with Eddy and Sanford Clark, who gave Hazlewood his first hit with "The Fool." He also wrote "Run Boy Run" and "Son of a Gun" for Clark. Al Casey, Steve Douglas, Jim Horn, and Larry Knechtel were among the session musicians he recruited. They would later become members of "The Wrecking Crew," the Los Angeles area's most in-demand session musicians in the 1960s and 1970s. Hazlewood continued to work with Eddy. The two refined Eddy's sound, aiming to make it markedly different from that of country guitar wizard Chet Atkins.
Hazlewood decided to devote his full attentions to writing and producing in 1957. He became a staff producer for Dot Records. During this period, he met producer Lester Sill. Together with Dick Clark, the host of American Bandstand, Hazlewood and Sill founded Jamie Records. The result was numerous instrumental hit singles for Eddy such as "Rebel Rouser," "Cannon-ball," and "Shazam." Eddy was purportedly the first artist to provide production and performing credits on his long-playing album sleeves.
"Hazlewood was obsessive about achieving new sounds, and this pursuit led to the installation of a gigantic grain tank onto the side of the building which housed the studio," according to his biography at the Smells Like Records website. "The tank was outfitted with a mike and speaker setup, and became a truly monstrous echo chamber, heard to great effect on those early Eddy sides. Another of Lee's many innovations in this period was the 'stacking' of bass players: Fender bass for crispness on top of an upright bass for depth of tone underneath."
An Innovator and Experimenter
Indeed, these innovations and experiments in recording attracted the attention of a young untried producer in whom Lester Sill became interested: Phil Spector. In 1961 Spector produced the Paris Sisters for their Greg-mark label. These were his first efforts as a producer.
After recording his own Trouble Is a Lonesome Town and a bust with a small label called Eden, Hazlewood decided to quit the music business. Among other things, he was concerned about how the wave of British pop musicians in the United States was influencing the industry. He was coaxed back to work at Reprise Records in 1965, where was asked to shepherd Dino, Desi & Billy—a bubblegum pop group including Dino Martin, son of Dean, and Desi Arnaz Jr., son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
MCA Records offered Hazlewood the opportunity to start his own label in 1967. With Lee Hazlewood Industries (LHI), Hazlewood became a triple threat as a writer, producer, and performer. He released The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood and Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure on MGM in consecutive years. According to All Music Guide, these projects represent "the best work of his (solo) career, a collection of desert-dry ballads of the dust boasting a healthy dose of Western fatalism and wanderlust and given impeccable productions that ranged from cowboy minimalism to overblown brassy pop."
The Phoenix New Times called LHI "the only black mark on an otherwise sterling record. With little patience for the niceties required to do business, Hazlewood's interest in the company flagged and LHI never found its footing."
Today, the imprint is best remembered for releasing the International Submarine Band's Safe at Home, an album that captures country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons in the embryonic stages of his career. Hazlewood also had a pivotal role in the fate of what has come to be recognized as the seminal recording of the country-rock movement: The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo. It was a legal dust-up with LHI that supposedly resulted in Parsons's voice being stripped from the album. Actual accounts vary widely as to how precisely the legal issue affected the recording.
Sinatra's "Boots" Walked Up the Charts
When his producing contract with Dino, Desi & Billy was up, Hazlewood again considered retiring from the music industry. Then Nancy Sinatra walked into his offices. Hazlewood had worked with Frank Sinatra in the past, and soon he began working with his daughter as well. Her release of "Summer Wine" hit number one in 1966. Sinatra would also have hits with "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and "How Does That Grab You Darlin'." Later, she and Hazlewood recorded a string of songs as a duo. She was not satisfied with any male singers who auditioned with her, "thus giving birth to one of the most famous—and certainly more unlikely—pairings in pop history," wrote the Phoenix New Times. "If the contrast had been in age and appearance alone, the teaming might only have been novel; Hazlewood's mustachioed Marlboro man appearance and decade of seniority over Sinatra certainly lent the act an unusual quality. But the more powerful juxtaposition lay in the disparate quality of their voices; the sound of Sinatra's honeyed purr as it nestled against Hazlewood's feral growl was simply impossible to ignore." Tunes they sung included Hazlewood's "Jackson," "Summer Wine," and "Some Velvet Morning."
"How can you judge a man who sounds like Johnny Cash might after gargling with razor blades? Who can't seem to decide whether to be a Nashville cornball or a brooding desert Leonard Cohen? Who experienced immense commercial success producing pop stars like Nancy Sinatra and Duane Eddy, but regularly churned out oddball solo albums that could only have appealed to the most narrow of audiences?" asked Richie Unterberger of Hazlewood in Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-Fi Mavericks & More.
"No one's sure if Hazlewood was trying to make deep statements or was constructing some kind of lengthy, inside cosmic joke. Perhaps Lee wasn't even sure himself. Hazlewood refuses to clear up the mystery, avoiding the media like a patient evading his next dental appointment."
Unterberger called the Hazlewood-Sinatra duet "Some Velvet Morning" "probably the pinnacle of Hazlewood's entire career … a strong candidate for the strangest song ever to enter the Top 40." He added that "The Hazlewood-Sinatra collaborations of the late '60s are Lee's most accessible, and justly famous, work."
For the Record . . .
Born on July 9, 1929, in Mannford, OK; married Naomi Shackleford. Education: Attended Southern Methodist University and broadcasting school.
Conscripted and served in military in Japan and Korea; worked as KCKY disc jockey, in Coolidge, AZ, 1953; moved to radio station in Phoenix, AZ, 1955; started working with Duane Eddy and other local musicians; began writing and producing full time, 1957; started recording his own work; had a string of hits with various artists, including Dino, Desi & Billy, Dean Martin, and Nancy Sinatra; founded own label, 1967; left the United States, 1971; recorded and worked on soundtracks in Sweden; retired, late 1970s to 1990s; resurgence of interest caused Smells Like Records to begin re-releasing Hazlewood catalog, 1999.
Addresses: Record company— Smells Like Records, P.O. Box 6179, Hoboken, NJ 07030, website: http://www.smellslikerecords.com/.
"It was 'Beauty and the Beast'—that was our joke about it," Hazlewood said of his pairing with Nancy Sinatra in an interview with the Phoenix New Times. "And the engineers joked about it. They'd say, 'God, Lee. You sound like the Devil coming out of there.' But it just all fell into place. It was a weird chemistry."
Found New Interest in His Music
Hazlewood's solo work in the latter half of the 1960s began as demos that he hoped other artists would record. He was also busy producing country artists, including Waylon Jennings, Eddy Arnold, and Chet Atkins. He wanted to write for television and film, but there were no takers. Discouraged, he moved to Sweden, where he said, as quoted in the Phoenix New Times, "I was able to do the TV and film work that they wouldn't let me do over here."
By 1971 Hazlewood was traveling a great deal. He kept residences in Stockholm, Paris, and London. The soundly panned solo album Poet, Fool or Bum was released in 1973, and Hazlewood slipped into obscurity. By the 1980s, Hazlewood had retired. He focused on raising his youngest daughter and spent his time "sipping his beloved Chivas Regal and watching the royalty checks roll in. (A cover of 'Boots' by country lunkhead Billy Ray Cyrus netted Hazlewood a cool million)," according to the Phoenix New Times.
Hazlewood's influence has extended wider than he could have ever anticipated. Among those artists reportedly inspired by him are Screaming Trees, Kurt Cobain, Beck, and others. Collectors were paying huge sums for his LPs, and bootlegged copies of some recordings began surfacing in Europe. To satisfy a new generation of fans, Steve Shelley, best known as the drummer for Sonic Youth, began re-releasing Hazlewood's back catalogue on his Smells Like Records label in 1999.
Trouble Is a Lonesome Town, Mercury, 1964; reissued, Smells Like Records, 1999.
The N.S.V.I.P.s, Reprise, 1965.
Lee Hazlewood Sings Friday's Child, Reprise, 1966; re-released as Houston, Columbia, 1968.
The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood, MGM, 1966.
Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure, MGM, 1966.
Lee Hazlewood Presents the 98% American Mom, LHI, 1967.
This Is Lee Hazlewood (compilation), MGM, 1967.
Something Special, MGM, 1968.
Love and Other Crimes, Reprise, 1968.
(With Nancy Sinatra) Nancy and Lee (duets), Reprise, 1968.
(With Nancy Sinatra) Nancy and Lee Again (duets), Reprise, 1969; reissued, RCA, 1972.
Cowboy in Sweden, Reprise, 1970; reissued, Smells Like Records, 1999.
Forty, LHI, 1971.
Requiem for an Almost Lady, Viking, 1971; reissued, Smells Like Records, 1999.
(With Ann-Margret) The Cowboy and the Lady (duets), LHI, 1971; reissued, Smells Like Records, 2000.
13, Viking, 1972; reissued, Smells Like Records, 1999.
Poet, Fool or Bum, Capitol, 1973.
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight, Viking, 1973.
The Stockholm Kid, CBS, 1974.
20th Century Lee, RCA, 1976.
Movin' On, Polydor, 1977.
Back on the Street Again, EMI, 1977.
(With Nancy Sinatra) Fairytales & Fantasies (compilation), Rhino, 1989.
The Many Sides of Lee, Request, 1991.
Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and Me …, Smells Like Records, 1999.
Clarke, Donald, editor, The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Viking, 1989.
Einarson, John, Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock, Cooper Square, 2001.
Erlewine, Michael, et. al., All Music Guide to Country: The Experts' Guide to the Best Recordings in Country Music, Miller Freeman, 1997.
Hardy, Phil, and David Lang, Encyclopedia of Rock, Schirmer, 1987.
Harrison, Nigel, Songwriters: A Biographical Dictionary with Discographies, McFarland & Company, 1998.
Larkin, Colin, editor, The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Macmillan, 1998.
Unterberger, Richie, Unknown Legends of Rock 'n' Roll: Psychedelic Unknowns, Mad Geniuses, Punk Pioneers, Lo-Fi Mavericks & More, Miller Freeman, 1998.
"Lee Hazlewood," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (August 23, 2003).
"Lee Hazlewood," Smells Like Records, http://www.smellslikerecords.com/leehazlewood/hazlewood.php (August 23, 2003).
"Rebel Rouser," Phoenix New Times, http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/2001-07-05/music.html (August 23, 2003).
Additional information was obtained from a press release for the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo Deluxe Edition, Columbia, 2003.
—Linda Dailey Paulson
"Hazlewood, Lee." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/hazlewood-lee
"Hazlewood, Lee." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/hazlewood-lee
The daughter of the late Frank Sinatra, one of the most popular entertainers of the twentieth century, Nancy Sinatra has been famous since childhood. At the age of four, she inspired Phil Silvers and Jimmy Van Heusen to write a song about her, "Nancy (with the Laughing Face)," which became a top ten hit for her father in 1945. After acting in several teen films and enjoying moderate success in Europe as a recording artist in the early 1960s, Nancy Sinatra embarked on a musical path that would turn her into what many termed a pop princess. She recorded several hit tunes in the mid-to-late 1960s, including the pop classic "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," only to then recede into relative anonymity during the 1970s and 1980s as she raised her two children.
In 1995, while in her mid-fifties, Sinatra raised eyebrows posing nude for Playboy magazine, an event that preceded the release of a comeback album, One More Time, and a book about her father titled Frank Sinatra: An American Legend. Nearly ten years later, with yet another comeback album, Nancy Sinatra, the singer seemed to finally score the respect she had sought during her whole career. Featuring songs by Bono and the Edge of U2, Morrissey, and Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, Sinatra's self-titled album earned admiring reviews and revealed the lasting impact of her legacy on musicians of later generations.
Daddy's Little Girl
Sinatra was born on June 8, 1940, in Jersey City, New Jersey, around the time her father began singing with legendary swing-era bandleader Tommy Dorsey. Within a few years, Frank Sinatra was singing to large crowds of swooning female fans, and Nancy Sinatra had gained two siblings, Frank Jr. and Tina. Nancy expressed an interest in music and performance from an early age, studying dance, piano, acting, and voice. She made her professional debut in May of 1960, appearing on a television special starring her father and another wildly popular performer, Elvis Presley. Sinatra briefly attended the University of Southern California, but within a year of appearing on television with her father she had dropped out of college, married singer and actor Tommy Sands, and signed a recording contract with her father's record label, Reprise.
While some children of celebrities wish to distance themselves from their famous parents when pursuing a similar career path, Sinatra embraced her connections, made the most of them, and expressed great appreciation for her father's assistance. "I definitely had a leg up on other people, and I've always been grateful," she told Karen Heller of Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service in 1995. "I told my father, when he got his own record label, 'Just give me a chance. I'm your kid. If I don't have a hit, I'll go away.'" Sinatra's early musical efforts failed to reach the charts in the United States, though they achieved some success overseas. Meanwhile she earned roles in a number of lightweight teen movies, including For Those Who Think Young and Get Yourself a College Girl in 1964.
Walkin' All Over the Charts
With the help of a talented songwriter, a shift in her singing style, and a new look, Sinatra struck gold with her 1966 album Boots, a success that coincided with the end of her marriage to Sands. Advisors had suggested that she pitch her voice a bit lower and retool her image to combine a tough and alluring attitude with sweet femininity, what Heller described as "a sex-kitten-who-had-studied-catechism look." More than these changes to her vocal and personal style, Sinatra's partnership with songwriter Lee Hazlewood contributed significantly to her recording breakthrough. Hugely influential as both a songwriter and a producer, Hazlewood penned a number of songs for Boots, including "I Move Around," "So Long, Babe," and the song that would remain a classic of American pop music for decades to come: "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'." Sinatra's suffer-no-fools attitude in "Boots" made her an icon and sent the song to the top of the charts. The album reached number five on Billboard 's pop albums chart. With the meteoric success of "Boots" came a trademark look for Sinatra: for many years afterward she rarely appeared without her signature miniskirt and tall go-go boots.
Sinatra's partnership with Hazlewood continued with her next album, released in 1966, How Does That Grab You?. For that recording, Hazlewood added his gravelly, cowboy-style vocals, teaming with Sinatra on "Sand." The unusual combination of the two singers struck a chord with listeners, giving rise to a recording duo that would produce a number of hits over the next several years. Sinatra and Hazlewood sang a duet on Nancy in London, also released in 1966, scoring a hit with "Summer Wine." They went on to record albums as a duo, including Nancy and Lee in 1968. That album included a number of successful songs, such as "Some Velvet Morning" and "Lady Bird." More than 30 years later, in 2004, the duo would reunite to record Nancy and Lee 3. Sinatra also had a reliable duet partner in her father; the pair recorded several songs together, including the hit "Somethin' Stupid," recorded as a single in the late 1960s.
In addition to recording her popular albums, Sinatra also continued to act in films, including 1966's The Last of the Secret Agents? and The Wild Angels, and 1968's Speedway, which costarred Elvis Presley. She also appeared on occasional television programs, including Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and The Dean Martin Show. Sinatra contributed songs to films as well, notably the title song to the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice.
For the Record . . .
Born on June 8, 1940, in Jersey City, NJ; daughter of Frank (a singer and actor) and Nancy (Barbato) Sinatra; married Tommy Sands (a singer and actor), September 11, 1960 (divorced, 1965); married Hugh Lambert (a television producer and choreographer), December 12, 1970 (died August 18, 1985); children: (with Hugh Lambert) Angela Jennifer, Amanda.
Began recording on father Frank Sinatra's label, Reprise, early 1960s; appeared in films For Those Who Think Young and Get Yourself a College Girl, 1964; released Boots, reaching number one with single "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," 1966; starred in The Last of the Secret Agents? and The Wild Angels, 1966; costarred with Elvis Presley in Speedway, 1968; released a number of successful albums on Reprise, including How Does That Grab You?, Nancy in London, and Movin' with Nancy, 1966-68; released first duo album with Lee Hazlewood, Nancy and Lee, 1968; released a comeback attempt, One More Time, 1995; released acclaimed star-studded tribute, Nancy Sinatra, 2004.
Addresses: Record company—Sanctuary Records Group, 389 Lexington Ave., 6th Fl., New York, NY 10017, phone: (212) 599-2757, fax: (212) 599-2747, website: http://www.sanctuaryrecords.com. Booking— Bruce Houghton, Skyline Music, phone: (603) 586-7171, fax: (603) 586-7068. Publicist—Thom De Lorenzo, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website— Nancy Sinatra Official Website: http://www.nancysinatra.com.
A Retreat, and a Return
In spite of her numerous hit songs, Sinatra was dismissed by many music critics and fellow musicians as a purveyor of nothing more than lightweight fluff, a singer who owed much of her success to her famous father. After marrying choreographer Hugh Lambert in 1970 and giving birth to two daughters, Angela Jennifer, or A.J., and Amanda, Sinatra opted to spend her time raising her children rather than recording albums. In 1985 she reminded the world of her presence with the publication of a loving biography of the elder Sinatra, Frank Sinatra: My Father. In an attempt to set the record straight about her father's supposedly explosive temperament, Sinatra examined her father's weaknesses but asserted that the media's portrayal of him had been exaggerated. A review of the book in Time magazine pointed out the stark contrast between Sinatra's memoir of her father, in which "a daughter extravagantly admires her father," and many other tell-all confessionals of familial bitterness. The year of her book's publication also marked a personal tragedy for Sinatra: Lambert, her husband of fifteen years, died of cancer in August of 1985.
Ten years later, after her daughters reached adulthood, Sinatra again entered the limelight, attempting to rekindle a career in show business. Prompted by a long-held desire to return to performing as well as a need to make a living after the death of her husband, she embarked on a series of projects in 1995. She published another biography of her father, a lavish coffee-table book called Frank Sinatra: An American Legend. She released a comeback album, One More Time, which earned some praise but made little impression on the listening public. In the spring of that year Sinatra posed nude for Playboy magazine a few months shy of her fifty-fifth birthday.
Sinatra's re-entry into the music business proved to be a gradual one. Together with a band, she began touring small clubs and bars throughout the United States. Encounters with young fans at her shows revealed to her that, while she had failed to earn widespread respect from her peers, she had made a huge impression on a younger generation of music fans, as well as indie and alternative-rock musicians. In a 2004 article for the New York Times, Jody Rosen explained that many 1990s-era rockers had looked to the 1960s for inspiration, and some found what they were looking for in the songs that Sinatra had made famous. Their admiration extended beyond the creative songwriting of such artists as Hazlewood. These latter-day rock musicians also fell in love with Sinatra's vocals, which were, as Rosen described, "not always conventionally pretty, but bursting with personality and a sexual forthrightness that few white female vocalists of her time dared touch." One of Sinatra's most devoted fans turned out to be Morrissey, the influential and angstridden former lead singer of British rock group the Smiths.
During 2003 Sinatra's daughter, A.J. Azzarto, a musician and co-owner of a recording studio in New Jersey, began spreading the word among her contacts in the indie rock community that her mother was at work on a new album and looking for collaborators. A number of prominent musicians answered the call, with some performing on various tracks and many contributing songs to the 2004 release Nancy Sinatra. A number of the songs were composed especially for Sinatra, while others were chosen to reflect her style and personality. Morrissey supplied "Let Me Kiss You," a song that also appeared on his 2004 album You Are the Quarry. U2's Bono and the Edge contributed "Two Shots of Happy, One Shot of Sad," a song originally written for Frank Sinatra. Jarvis Cocker of the British band Pulp and singer-songwriter Pete Yorn also supplied songs.
Tim Sendra of All Music Guide described Nancy Sinatra as "a resounding success." Rosen wrote that the album is "a tribute that invites audiences to look again at Sinatra, who has been misunderstood and underrated for much of her career." In a 2004 interview with Nancy Miller of Entertainment Weekly, Sinatra defended that career and expressed pride in her accomplishments: "Musicians in my generation don't pay attention to me. I was not 'serious' in their minds. Maybe it's because the songs sounded frivolous, but they weren't frivolous, and the fact that they've lasted for 40 years proves that. I look back on that now and think to myself, Yeah, you did good."
Boots, Reprise, 1966; reissued, Sundazed, 1995.
How Does That Grab You?, Reprise, 1966; reissued, Sundazed, 1995.
Nancy in London, Reprise, 1966; reissued, Sundazed.
Movin' with Nancy, Reprise, 1968; reissued, Sundazed, 1996.
(With Lee Hazlewood) Nancy and Lee, Reprise, 1968.
(With Lee Hazlewood) Nancy and Lee 3, Boots/WEA International, 2004.
Nancy Sinatra, Sanctuary, 2004.
Entertainment Weekly, March 24, 1995, p. 63; September 24, 2004, p. 65.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 19, 1995.
New York Times, September 28, 2004.
People, December 18, 1995, p. 89.
Time, January 6, 1986, p. 92.
"Frank Sinatra: Biography," Icebergradio.com, http://www.icebergradio.com/artist.asp?artist=465 (November 4, 2004).
"Nancy Sinatra," All Music Guide,http://www.allmusic.com (November 4, 2004).
Nancy Sinatra Official Website, http://www.nancysinatra.com/home.php4 (November 4, 2004).
"Sinatra, Nancy." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 24, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sinatra-nancy
"Sinatra, Nancy." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved September 24, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/sinatra-nancy