Hazlewood had a distinctive baritone voice that added an ominous resonance to his music. Hazlewood’s collaborations with Nancy Sinatra as well as his solo output in the late 1960s and early 1970s have been praised as an essential contribution to a sound often described as “Cowboy Psychedelia” or “Saccharine Underground”.
The son of an oil man, Hazlewood was born in Mannford, Oklahoma and spent most of youth living between Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Louisiana. He grew up listening to pop and bluegrass music. Hazlewood spent his teenage years in Port Neches, Texas where he was exposed to a rich Gulf Coast music tradition. Hazlewood studied for a medical degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He served with the United States Army during the Korean War.
Following discharge from the military, Hazlewood worked as a disc jockey in Arizona while honing his songwriting skills. His first hit as a producer and songwriter was “The Fool”, recorded by rockabilly artist Sanford Clark in 1956. Hazlewood partnered with pioneering rock guitarist Duane Eddy., producing and co-writing an unprecedented string of hit instrumental records, including “Peter Gunn”, “Boss Guitar”, “40 Miles Of Bad Road”, “Shazam!”, “Rebel Rouser” and “[Dance With The] Guitar Man”.
Hazlewood is perhaps best known for having written and produced the 1966 Nancy Sinatra U.S./U.K. #1 hit, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and “Summer Wine”. He also wrote “How Does That Grab Ya, Darlin’”, “Friday’s Child”, “So Long, Babe,”“Sugar Town” and many others for Sinatra. Among his most well-known vocal performances is Some Velvet Morning, a 1967 duet with Nancy Sinatra. Hazlewood performed that song along with “Jackson” and “See the Little Children” on her 1967 television special Movin’ With Nancy. He wrote the theme song “The Last of the Secret Agents” for the 1966 spy-spoof film. Nancy Sinatra, who had a role in the film, recorded the song for the soundtrack. For Frank Sinatra’s 1967 detective movie, Tony Rome, Hazlewood also wrote the theme song which was performed by Nancy. He also wrote “Houston”, a 1965 U.S. hit recorded by Dean Martin. This Town, a song that was recorded by Frank Sinatra that appeared on his 1969 Greatest Hits album, was written by Hazlewood.
Though it did not receive much attention at the time, Hazlewood also worked with Gram Parsons and the International Submarine Band in the mid 1960s. Gram Parsons’s departure from the band and decision to become part of The Byrds, created legal problems with Hazlewood.
In the 1970s Hazlewood moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he wrote and produced the one-hour television show Cowboy in Sweden together with friend and Director Torbjörn Axelman, which also later emerged as an album.
Hazlewood was semi-retired from the music business during the 1970s and ’80s. However, his own output also achieved a cult status in the underground rock scene, with songs covered by artists such as Vanilla Fudge, Lydia Lunch, Primal Scream, Entombed, Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Cave, Hooverphonic, Anita Lane, Megadeth, Beck, Boyd Rice,Thin White Rope and Slowdive.
In 2006, Hazlewood sang on Bela B.’s first solo album, Bingo, on the song “Lee Hazlewood und das erste Lied des Tages” (“Lee Hazlewood and the first song of the day”). He has said that he loved producing and writing albums.
In 2005 he was diagnosed with terminal renal cancer, yet undertook an extensive round of interviews and promotional activities in support of his last album, Cake or Death.
His last recording was for the vocals of Icelandic quartet Amiina’s single “Hilli (At The Top Of The World)”.
Hazlewood died of renal cancer in Henderson, Nevada on August 4, 2007, survived by his wife Jeane, son Mark and daughters Debbie and Samantha.
Edited by baldryan on 21 Oct 2009, 19:38
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