Lee Hazlewood

Lee Hazlewood
Hazlewood in 1968
Hazlewood in 1968
Background information
Birth name Barton Lee Hazlewood
Born (1929-07-09)July 9, 1929
Mannford, Oklahoma, U.S.
Origin Port Neches, Texas, U.S.
Died August 4, 2007(2007-08-04) (aged 78)
Henderson, Nevada, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active 1958–2006
Associated acts
Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra on The Hollywood Palace, 1968

Barton Lee Hazlewood (July 9, 1929 – August 4, 2007) was an American country and pop singer, songwriter, and record producer, most widely known for his work with guitarist Duane Eddy during the late 1950s and singer Nancy Sinatra in the 1960s and 1970s.[1]

Hazlewood had a distinctive baritone voice that added a resonance to his music. His 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".[2] Rolling Stone ranked Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra No. 9 on its list of the 20 Greatest Duos of All Time.[3]

Early life

Barton Lee Hazlewood[4] was born in Mannford, Oklahoma[4] on July 9, 1929.[5] The son of an oil worker father, Hazlewood spent most of his youth living among Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Louisiana. His paternal grandmother was Native American. He grew up listening to pop and bluegrass music.[6] Lee spent his teenage years in Port Neches, Texas, where he was exposed to a rich Gulf Coast music tradition. He studied for a medical degree at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.[4] He served with the United States Army during the Korean War.[4]


Hazlewood was initially known as a producer and songwriter, for artists including Duane Eddy, Dean Martin, and Dino, Desi & Billy.[7]

Following discharge from the military in 1953,[8] Hazlewood worked as a disc jockey in Coolidge, Arizona and two years later, moved to KRUX radio in Phoenix. During that time, he was already writing songs and formed his own record label, Viv.[9]

His first hit single as a producer and songwriter was "The Fool", recorded by rockabilly artist Sanford Clark in 1956.

He partnered with pioneering rock guitarist Duane Eddy,[4] producing and co-writing a string of hit instrumental records. "Rebel Rouser", released in 1958 was a hit in the US and in the UK; Eddy would eventually have another 14 US hits,[10] including "Peter Gunn", "Boss Guitar", "Forty Miles of Bad Road", "Shazam!" and "(Dance With The) Guitar Man".

Hazlewood is perhaps best known for having written and produced the 1966 Nancy Sinatra U.S./UK No. 1 hit, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and "Summer Wine", the latter first recorded with Suzi Jane Hokom in 1966.

His collaboration with Nancy Sinatra began when Frank Sinatra asked Lee to help boost his daughter's career. When recording These Boots are Made for Walkin', Hazlewood is said to have made this suggestion to Nancy, "You can’t sing like Nancy Nice Lady any more. You have to sing for the truckers". She later described him as "part Henry Higgins and part Sigmund Freud".[11]

Hazlewood also wrote "How Does That Grab Ya, Darlin'", "Friday's Child", "So Long, Babe, "Sugar Town" and many others for Sinatra.[12][1] Among his most well-known vocal performances is "Some Velvet Morning", a 1967 duet with Nancy Sinatra. He performed that song along with "Jackson" on her 1967 television special Movin' With Nancy. Early in 1967, Lee also produced the number 1 hit song for Frank & Nancy Sinatra "Somethin' Stupid". The pair became the only father-daughter duo to top the Hot 100 with what DJs dubbed 'the incest song' because it performed as if sung by two lovers. The record earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year and remains the only father-daughter duet to hit No. 1 in the U.S.[13] Jimmy Bowen was listed as co-producer on that record but wasn't there at the time. Hazlewood just gave him credit as per a previous agreement with Jimmy.

Hazlewood also wrote the theme song "The Last of the Secret Agents", the theme song of the 1966 spy-spoof film of the same title. 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 wrote "Houston", a 1965 US hit recorded by Dean Martin. He also produced several singles for Martin's daughter, Deana Martin, including her country hit, "Girl of the Month Club," while Deana was still a teenager. Other tunes on that project were "When He Remembers Me," "Baby I See You" and "The Bottom of My Mind," all recorded during the 1960s.

Hazlewood also wrote "This Town", a song that was recorded by Frank Sinatra that appeared on his 1968 album Greatest Hits and is the basis for Paul Shaffer's "Small Town News" segment theme on the Late Show with David Letterman.

In 1967, Hazlewood started his own record label, LHI Records (Lee Hazlewood Industries). Though it did not receive much attention at the time, the International Submarine Band, led by a then-unknown Gram Parsons, signed with LHI in 1967 and released their one and only album, Safe at Home. Shortly after the album was recorded, Parsons left the band to join The Byrds, contributing several songs to their 1968 album Sweetheart of the Rodeo. The contract Parsons had signed with Hazlewood's LHI caused a great deal of trouble for himself and The Byrds, and in the court settlement most of Parsons' material on Sweetheart of the Rodeo had the vocals removed and re-recorded by Roger McGuinn. This situation led to Parsons' departure from the Byrds not long after the album's release. As LHI producer and Hazlewood's ex-girlfriend Suzi Jane Hokom later noted, Hazlewood was a performer and not a businessman, and his lack of business acumen figured greatly in the label's 1971 demise.

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.[14]

During ten years in Sweden he made records and films with Axelman. According to a retrospective of his career, the move to Europe was motivated by his "tax problems", concern that his son might be drafted for the Vietnam war and the fact that his record label "LHI was dying anyway", so Sweden looked like the perfect escape route. Decades later, his friend Suzi Jane Hokom made this comment about the years in Europe. "I think he knew he'd burned his bridges in LA and here was a brand new world where he had a built-in fanclub ... He really needed a new start".[15]

Lee was semi-retired from the music business from the late 1970s and all through the 1980s. However, his own output also achieved a cult status in the underground rock scene, with songs recorded by artists such as Rowland S. Howard, Kim Salmon and the Surrealists, Miles Kane, Vanilla Fudge, Spell, Lydia Lunch, Primal Scream, Entombed, Einstürzende Neubauten, Nick Cave, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Hooverphonic, KMFDM, Anita Lane, Megadeth, The Ukiah Drag,[16] Beck, Baustelle, the Tubes, Thin White Rope, Yonatan Gat, Zeena Schreck/Radio Werewolf[17][18][19][20] and Slowdive.[21]

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 said that he loved producing and writing albums.[22]

In 2007, Reprise/Rhino Handmade Records posthumously released STRUNG OUT ON SOMETHING NEW: THE REPRISE RECORDINGS, a set of his work at Reprise from 1964-1968 (excluding the Nancy Sinatra recordings). The 2 CD collection, totaling 55 tracks, covers three of his solo albums as well as production work for other artists, such as Duane Eddy, Sanford Clark, Jack Nitzsche and Dino, Desi & Billy.[23][24]

Since 2012, the Light in the Attic record label reissued many Hazlewood albums, including 400 Miles From LA: 1955-1956, which became available in September 2019.[25]

Last recordings and death

In 2005, Hazlewood was diagnosed with terminal renal cancer,[4] and he 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)".[26]

Hazlewood died of renal cancer in Henderson, Nevada, on August 4, 2007, survived by his wife Jeane, son Mark and daughters Debbie and Samantha.[27]

Trouble Is a Lonesome Town cover album 2013

Musician and producer Charles Normal and a group of musician friends, including Black Francis of the Pixies, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, Larry Norman, Pete Yorn and members of Art Brut and the Dandy Warhols, released their own version of Trouble Is a Lonesome Town in July 2013.

Personal life

Hazlewood was born in Mannford, Oklahoma; his father worked as a laborer in the oil industry and had a sideline as a dance promoter. After completing high school, Lee attended Southern Methodist University for a short time but was drafted into the service in Japan during the Korean War. He did not return to his studies after being demobilized.[28]

He married three times.[29][30] On December 5, 1949,[31] he married his high-school sweetheart, Naomi Shackleford. The couple had two children, Debbie (b. 1954) and Mark Lee (b. 1955),[32] before divorcing in 1961.[33] Hazlewood used Naomi's maiden name for The Shacklefords, a short-lived vocal group he formed with Marty Cooper in early-1960s Los Angeles;[34] Naomi herself contributed vocals to the group's recordings.[35] In 1983, Hazlewood married Tracy Stewart, whose daughter Samantha (b. 1980) he raised as his own;[36][32] that marriage also ended in divorce, in 1992.[37] In November 2006, less than a year before his death, he married Jeane Kelly, his girlfriend since 1993, in a Las Vegas drive-through ceremony.[38]

Decades later, Kelly discussed her memories of Lee during an interview. "He was rude and sweet, innocent and depraved, proud and bitter. He absorbed everything he heard, saw, and read — from Port Neches to L.A. to Stockholm—and then made his own music in his own defiant way."[39]

Hazlewood has a granddaughter named Phaedra, a tribute to the lyrics of "Some Velvet Morning."[36][40]


  • 1963 – Trouble is a Lonesome Town
  • 1964 – The N.S.V.I.P.'s
  • 1965 – Friday's Child
  • 1966 – The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood
  • 1967 – Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure
  • 1968 – Nancy & Lee – a collaboration with Nancy Sinatra
  • 1968 – Something Special
  • 1968 – Love and Other Crimes
  • 1969 – The Cowboy and the Lady – a collaboration with Ann-Margret.
  • 1969 – Forty
  • 1970 – Cowboy in Sweden – two songs are on Forty, and one on Love and Other Crimes
  • 1971 – Requiem for an Almost Lady
  • 1971 – Nancy & Lee Again/Nancy & Lee - Did You Ever? – a collaboration with Nancy Sinatra
  • 1972 – 13
  • 1973 – I'll Be Your Baby Tonight
  • 1973 – Poet, Fool or Bum
  • 1974 – The Stockholm Kid Live at Berns
  • 1975 – A House Safe for Tigers
  • 1976 – 20th Century Lee
  • 1977 – Movin' On
  • 1977 – Back on the Street Again
  • 1993 – Gypsies & Indians – a collaboration with Anna Hanski
  • 1999 – Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! & Me...
  • 2002 – For Every Solution There's a Problem
  • 2004 – Nancy & Lee 3 – a collaboration with Nancy Sinatra
  • 2006 – Cake or Death


  1. ^ a b "Singer songwriter Hazlewood dies". BBC. August 6, 2007. Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  2. ^ Michel, Sia (February 1, 2007). "Pop svengali hangs up his boots". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  3. ^ "20 Greatest Duos of All Time". Rolling Stone. December 17, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Obituary: Lee Hazlewood". BBC. August 6, 2007. Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  5. ^ Bessman, Jim (February 3, 2007). "He's the Real Deal". Billboard. 119 (5): 32–34. ISSN 0006-2510.
  6. ^ "LEE Hazlewood interview". Loserslounge.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2012. Retrieved March 26, 2012.
  7. ^ The Making of An Urbane Cowboy
  8. ^ Elemental and enigmatic — the mystery of Some Velvet Morning
  9. ^ Music Lee Hazlewood
  10. ^ Music Lee Hazlewood
  11. ^ Elemental and enigmatic — the mystery of Some Velvet Morning
  12. ^ "Requiem for a pop hit master". The Age. January 29, 2007. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Rewinding the Charts: In 1967, Frank & Nancy Sinatra Shared a No. 1
  14. ^ Leigh, Spencer (August 6, 2007). "Lee Hazlewood Obituary". The Independent. Archived from the original on August 25, 2007. Retrieved August 11, 2007.
  15. ^ Lee Hazlewood: the wayward guru of cowboy psychedelia
  16. ^ "The Ukiah Drag – In The Reaper's Quarters – Wharf Cat Records". Wharfcatrecords.com. September 9, 2014. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  17. ^ "Discogs for Zeena/Radio Werewolf-Boots/Witchcraft". Discogs.com. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  18. ^ "Zeena/Radio Werewolf Boots Single: Cover by fetish photographer Helmut Wolech". Zeena.eu. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  19. ^ "YouTube of the Zeena/Radio Werewolf version". Youtube.com. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  20. ^ "Discogs for Radio Werewolf/The Vinyl Solution". Discogs.com. Retrieved April 11, 2014.
  21. ^ "Discogs for Slowdive/Souvlaki". Discogs.com. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  22. ^ [1] Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Record Collector Magazine - Issue 349". May 2008. Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  24. ^ "allmusic.com". Retrieved July 9, 2019.
  25. ^ The Making of An Urbane Cowboy
  26. ^ "Lee Hazlewood With Amiina: "Hilli (At The Top Of The World)"". Pitchfork Media. October 18, 2007. Archived from the original on December 28, 2007. Retrieved November 16, 2007.
  27. ^ Bennun, David (August 6, 2007). "Lee Hazlewood 1929-2007". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  28. ^ Music Lee Hazlewood
  29. ^ "Lee Hazlewood". The Telegraph. August 6, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  30. ^ N, Brenda. "Lee Hazlewood". Find A Grave. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  31. ^ "Oklahoma Marriage Records, 1890-1951". FamilySearch. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  32. ^ a b Lagadec, Jean-Marie. "Biography of Lee Hazlewood". LeeHazlewood.free.fr. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  33. ^ Leigh, Spencer (August 6, 2007). "RIP Lee Hazlewood". The Independent. Strange Attractor. Archived from the original on August 6, 2007. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  34. ^ Deming, Mark. "The Shacklefords". AllMusic. RhythmOne Group. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  35. ^ "Naomi Shackleford". Discogs. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  36. ^ a b Lynskey, Dorian (May 9, 2002). "'I got away with everything'". The Guardian. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  37. ^ "Lee Hazlewood Biography". IMDb. Amazon. Retrieved January 10, 2019.
  38. ^ The Making of An Urbane Cowboy
  39. ^ The Making of An Urbane Cowboy
  40. ^ Michel, Sia (January 28, 2007). "One Last Walk for the Man Behind 'These Boots'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2019.

External links