By Alan L. Chrisman
In the mid-1960’s Frank Sinatra’s daughter, Nancy, had several pop hits all written and produced by Lee Hazelwood. Hazelwood basically created her whole “sound.” In 1966, Nancy Sinatra had a giant hit with his, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin.” Later it would be covered by many bands, over the years, from pop to punk. Ironically, it became somewhat of a feminist statement, ahead of its time, with its attitude (I think at the time, most guys anyway, probably bought her albums mainly for the sexy covers of her dressed in tight mini-skirts and go-go boots). Nancy Sinatra, at that point, was considered more of an actress than a singer, having appeared in the Elvis movie, Speedway and Wild Angels with Peter Fonda. But Hazelwood knew how to write catchy, distinctive songs to go with her image. They followed that up with other songs he wrote for her: “Summer Wine”, “How Does That Grab Ya, Darling?”, “Sugar Town”, and on “Jackson” and “Some Velvet Morning”, he added his baritone male voice. Nancy Sinatra later sang a title song for James Bond’s You Only Live Twice and her cover of Cher’s “Bang Bang” was used in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Vol. One.
All her hits had that Hazelwood production, something that he had actually developed in the 50’s. For he had also developed the echo-production sound (originally Hazelwood couldn’t afford an echo chamber, so he used a 2000 gallon water tank) to capture the sound for which “twangy” guitarist, Duane Eddy, became known, with a string of instrumental hits, “ Peter Gunn”, “ Boss Guitar”, “Rebel Rouser” and Guitar Man.”
After Nancy Sinatra’s hits, he produced another big hit, a duet with her dad, Frank, “Something Stupid” in 1967, as well as the soundtrack to Frank Sinatra’s film Tony Rome and wrote Dean Martin’s hit, “Houston.” The theme which Paul Shaffer plays on The David Letterman Show for their regular feature “small town news” is actually taken from Hazelwood’s song, “This Town”. Hazelwood also produced Graham Parson’s 1st album with The International Submarine Band, Safe At Home, before parsons left to join The Byrds. By the 1970’s, Hazelwood had moved to Sweden, but he had a unique production sound.
Below Nancy Sinatra doing her Lee Hazelwood-written and produced 1966 hit, “These Boots Are Made For Walkin”:
Also below Duane Eddy’s “twangy” guitar sound, “Rebel Rouser” on David Letterman Show: