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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 11:08 GMT 12:08 UK
Obituary: Lee Hazlewood
Lee Hazlewood performing in 2004
Lee Hazlewood was a singer, writer and producer
Singer and songwriter Lee Hazlewood, who wrote These Boots are Made for Walkin' with Nancy Sinatra, has died at the age of 78.

Hazlewood wore many hats - singer, musician, songwriter, producer, disc jockey, talent spotter and producer.

He was a charismatic and influential performer who also produced Duane Eddy and Gram Parsons as well as Nancy Sinatra.

A pioneer of country rock, his admirers included Belle and Sebastian, Nick Cave and Lambchop.

But it was his collaboration with Nancy Sinatra, for whom he wrote unforgettable hits like These Boots are Made for Walkin' and that paean to LSD, Sugartown, which brought Hazlewood perhaps his greatest fame.

Born in July 1929 in Mannford, Oklahoma, Barton Lee Hazlewood was the son of an oilman who also organised local dances.

After studying medicine at Dallas's Southern Methodist University, Hazlewood served in the US Army, including a spell as a DJ in Korea during the war there.

Continuing his on-air career in a small radio station in Arizona, he was one of the first to spot the potential of the then virtually unknown Elvis Presley.

While he was there, Hazlewood met the then-unknown Duane Eddy. The two became close friends and Hazlewood, by now an independent record producer, worked with Eddy on hits like Movin' 'n' Groovin' and Rebel Rouser.

But it was Hazlewood's work with Nancy Sinatra that provided his biggest hits.

Nancy Sinatra shows off her boots
Nancy Sinatra with those boots
Nancy Sinatra, who had released a number of saccharine singles before teaming up with Hazlewood in 1965, recalled: "He said to me: 'You can't sing like Nancy Nice Lady anymore. You have to sing for the truckers.'

"At about this time, I was getting a divorce. My husband decided he didn't want to have children, and I did and he knew it. So we split.

"Lee said to me: 'You've been married and now you're divorced, and people know that. So, let's lose this virgin image. Let's get rid of it.'"

Hazlewood and Sinatra enjoyed a sexual chemistry on stage that proved highly popular, yet he eschewed any notion of becoming a superstar himself. What's more, many in the music business began to regard him as too risque.

In 1968, Hazlewood duetted with Sinatra on his own composition, the so-called "cowboy psychedelic" song Some Velvet Morning.

Pioneer of country rock

Cover versions, most notably by Lydia Lunch (1982) and Primal Scream, featuring Kate Moss, in 2002, secured the song's cult status.

In 1971, his song Did You Ever? reached number two in the UK charts. Hazlewood also wrote for stars including Dean Martin.

Another collaboration, with Gram Parsons' short-lived International Submarine Band, produced the groundbreaking Safe at Home album, today widely regarded as the first blooming of country rock.

Hazlewood sitting on a beach
In the 1970s, Lee Hazlewood led a bohemian lifestyle
From the late 1960s, Hazlewood enjoyed a peripatetic life. Moving nearly every year, he lived, among other places, in the UK, France and Sweden.

Beside this, Lee Hazlewood was a minor film actor and produced 30 albums of his own.

He returned to Phoenix to raise his daughter Samantha and, in the 1990s, did more tours with Nancy Sinatra. Billy Ray Cyrus had a hit with a cover version of Boots, which proved a lucrative earner.

When independent labels began reissuing some of Hazlewood's '70s albums some 20 years later, the artist began to gain a younger following.

But in 2005, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and set about writing and recording his last album, Cake or Death, a phrase borrowed from a sketch by comedian Eddie Izzard.

In it, he took a swipe at America's war in Iraq, entitled Baghdad Knights.

His work as a stylish, slightly quirky, songwriter will be his legacy.

As he once quipped: "These are songs which enabled my children to attend some of the best schools in America. They're called hits, God help us."




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