Monday, August 6, 2007

Lee Hazlewood

Music lost a legend yesterday with the passing of Lee Hazlewood. The first time I ever heard Lee was when I got my hands on a Nancy Sinatra album, popped it on and heard the song Summer Wine, and I was hooked. Although he will most be remembered for his duets with Nancy, he had some great solo work as well, including his most recent, and ultimately, final album "Cake Or Death". Here is a statement from his official Myspace site:

It is with great sadness that we announce that LEE HAZLEWOOD has died peacefully at his home outside Las Vegas, USA, after a three year struggle with cancer. He celebrated his 78th birthday earlier this month surrounded by family and friends from around the world. He passed away on August 4th, 2007, in Henderson, Nevada, and is survived by his son Mark, his daughters Debbie and Samantha, and his devoted wife Jeane.

For over half a century, LEE HAZLEWOOD proved himself to be one of the most ingenious, inspired and impressively stubborn sons-of-a-bitch the music industry ever saw. His career – a word that HAZLEWOOD himself scorned – saw him take on almost every aspect of the music industry – a word that HAZLEWOOD himself was equally dismissive of – and come out on top every time. Most famous for his work with Nancy Sinatra – he wrote and produced many of her biggest hits, including These Boots Were Made For Walking, Sugartown and the unforgettable Some Velvet Morning – HAZLEWOOD in fact started his musical career as a DJ in Coolidge, Arizona. It was here he first met Duane Eddy, with whom he began to flesh out and record some of his songs. In 1955 he set up Viv Records and in 1956 hit paydirt with Sanford Clark’s legendary The Fool, and the following year he gave up DJing to focus on production and writing. In the early 1960s he established the LHI label (which is best known for having released the debut album by Gram Parson’s first group, The International Submarine Band) and began releasing his own solo albums, including the extraordinary "Trouble Is A Lonesome Town".

In the mid sixties, in the face of The British Invasion (led by the likes of The Beatles), HAZLEWOOD retired to the shadows (where he was always most comfortable) only to be reluctantly dragged out to work with Nancy Sinatra. Their work together – including the iconic Boots – was an overnight success and saw her become a star in her own right worldwide, but she also insisted that HAZLEWOOD step out in front of the microphone himself, leading to the release of three "Nancy & Lee" albums.

In the early 1970s HAZLEWOOD moved to Sweden to ensure his son was not drafted by the US military. He recorded a series of solo albums there as well as collaborating with film director Torbj√∂rn Axelman, but then ‘retired’ again, working only occasionally over the next two decades. Instead he began to follow an itinerant lifestyle which he pursued until very recently, living in Ireland, Germany, Spain and of course America. However it was the rediscovery of this work two decades later by a new generation of musicians – including the likes of Sonic Youth, whose drummer Steve Shelley tracked HAZLEWOOD down and reissued a number of his solo albums on his Smells Like Records imprint – that led to a resurgence of interest in his work as a performer. In the late 90s he returned to the studio to record the typically cryptically titled standards album "Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and Me", and in 1999 he returned to the stage at the invitation of Nick Cave who was curating that year’s Meltdown Festival in London. Following a sold out show at the Royal Festival Hall he sanctioned the release of two albums of unreleased material, most notably "For Every Solution There’s A Problem", toured Europe, and then returned to the studio to record his final album, "Cake Or Death", which was released to worldwide acclaim in 2006.

HAZLEWOOD’s music has always been a staple of movie soundtracks, but it has continued to become more and more fashionable, regularly turning up in films as diverse as The Dukes Of Hazzard – which saw Jessica Simpson perform These Boots Were Made For Walking for the title track – and the arthouse flick Morvern Callar – which used Some Velvet Morning to great effect.

The family have requested that those wishing to honour LEE HAZLEWOOD should make donations to the Salvation Army…

Kiss all the pretty ones goodbye
Give everyone a penny that cry
You can throw all my tranquil' pills away
Let my blood pressure go on its way
For my autumn's done come
My autumn’s done come.
Lee Hazlewood, My Autumn’s Done Come

Here are some Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra collaborations

Summer Wine
Lady Bird
You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'

Lee Hazlewood fan site



Etienne said...

I have just added you in my technorati avatar club! thanks!

Claudio said...

Hey I liked your blog!
There are some things that you could do to make it better though... for example... I didnt like the fact that when I played a song I couldnt read the blog. Have you heard of You can lay songs without leaving the blog,you should check that out!
Anyway the blog was great... you have great music here

Thanks for sharing