Famed singer/songwriter Lee Hazlewood, best known for writing Nancy Sinatra's signature hit "These Boots Are Made for Walking," died Saturday (Aug. 4) in Henderson, Nev., after a three-year battle with kidney cancer. He was 78.
Hazlewood began his career as a DJ in Coolidge, Ariz., before segueing into writing and recording with guitarist Duane Eddy. By the early 1960s, he had formed his own LHI label, which released the first album from Gram Parsons' the International Submarine Band. Hazlewood also began releasing his own albums on the imprint.
But it was Sinatra's recording of "These Boots" that cemented his legacy. The song became an international smash and led to the release of three albums under the Nancy & Lee moniker.
"It came about because of my greed!," Hazlewood told Billboard earlier this year about his sudden surge into the limelight with Sinatra. "I put a record out [with] her three or four times a year that would last about three months. But now and then it would be two, two-and-a-half months. And a month without Nancy Sinatra on the radio drove me crazy because I'm so greedy! So I wrote boy/girl songs that everybody at Reprise wanted to record with Nancy, but she insisted on me. She said, "It doesn't sound right without you.' I said, 'OK, if we don't get arrested!'"
"I read this, Nancy's [Sinatra] best comment concerning me: 'Do you understand that Lee's songs have double and triple meanings sometimes? They have more than one meaning to them,'" he continued. "Then she said, 'He writes them, I sing them,' and that's the best answer I've ever heard in my life to any question about my songs."
Hazlewood lived in Sweden in the 1970s and kept a low profile for many years, but his work reached a new generation in the 1990s, when Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley began reissuing his solo albums. His final project, "Cake or Death," was issued in January.
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