Saturday, June 18, 2022


Today we flash back to salute another one of my favorite radio artists. 
Gino Vannelli was born June 16th, 1952, in Montreal, Canada.  His first American hit happened in 1974 when People Gotta Move made the Top 40. 
He has recorded many different styles of music as the result of his influences.  Gino joined me on my WRCO radio show in 1998 and we talked about his early days.


Gino is best known in the U.S. for the Top 10 hits I Just Wanna Stop and Living Inside Myself.  While known as a singer/songwriter,  he is also recognized for his guitar work.


Several of Gino Vannelli's songs have been biggest in Europe. 
During our interview, I asked him about the tunes from his catalog that have gotten the most radio spins.


We have seen Gino Vannelli perform several times ... (he has always been one of Frannie's favorites) ... and even got to visit with him briefly on one occasion.  (After seeing his full blown show Saturday night, Gino came back and did a very intimate one man show, just him at the piano telling the stories behind the songs and recounting some of the most memorable events of his rather remarkable life.  Now THIS is a guy who should write a book!  At one point, he just decided to chuck it all, moved to Spain and essentially retired ... until the mood inspired him to start writing, recording and performing again.)

His biggest US hits are the aforementioned "I Just Wanna Stop" (#4, 1978), "Living Inside Myself" (#6, 1981) and "People Gotta Move" (#22, 1974) ... while "Nightwalker" (#41, 1981) and "Black Cars" (#42, 1985) also made Billboard's Top 50.

Back home in Canada, "People Gotta Move," "I Just Wanna Stop," "Wheels Of Life," Living Inside Myself," "Black Cars" and "Hurts To Be In Love" were all Top 20 Hits. 

Me, Gino and Frannie - 2013

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wait'll You See This Month's SWEET 16 - HOW SWEET IT IS, Indeed!

Our 2022 Monthly Feature really lives up to its name this time around ...

Because this month's SWEET 16 is all about the Sweetness ...

In fact, we'll even kick it off with a picture of me with Walter Payton from 1993, the year "Sweetness" was inducted into the NFL Hall Of Fame.

That's me with my two very young daughters at the time ... they're both in their 30's right now while, of course, I haven't aged at all!  (Yeah right!!!)

Start things off for us, won't you James???


I'll be honest with you ... 

I had a REALLY hard time narrowing this month's list down to just 16 songs ... 

I probably found at least five times that many that would have been GREAT to feature here today ... 

So if anybody out there is interested in putting together a REALLY "Sweet" Weekend Feature, let me know as I'll be ready, willing, able and eager to help. 

(In fact, next month we'll do 16 Sweet SUGAR Songs ... Because what's sweeter than Sugar???) 

[Good answer to all the guys who responded, "You are, honey" ... A conditioned response, for sure ... But a good one nonetheless!!!] 

So how about a SUGAR IS SWEET Weekend? 

Now I'll betcha we can get you up to 100 songs for your special weekend programming!!! 


Shoot me a note ... 

Then let's do lunch! (kk) 



I can't do a "Sweet Songs" list and NOT include our buddy James Holvay ... 

Who last year came up with this AWESOME '60's Soul Song ... that was written and recorded in 2022!!! And let me tell you folks, it's a keeper! 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Insights Into ... RAY STEVENS

Insights into … Ray Stevens

[27 Billboard Hot 100 singles, 1961–79; three certified RIAA gold]

Full shot of Ray Stevens in the early 1970s 
(photo courtesy of Ray Stevens)

Ray Stevens is far more than an entertainer and recording artist whose songs have topped both the pop and country music charts. He also has excelled as a recording session producer, a music publisher and a session musician, and has been a disc jockey, a musical theater owner, and host of a nationally broadcast NBC television variety program. All that came after he abandoned his fanciful ambition in his youth — to be a Major League Baseball player.

When Ray set his sights firmly on a career in the music field, though, he took it seriously, and enrolled as a freshman at Georgia State University in the autumn of 1957 as a music major, studying classical piano and music theory. While a student, he connected with music publisher Bill Lowery and record producer Shelby Singleton, and began writing and recording his own songs. Despite early disappointments, he persisted, and at 22 years of age, Ray had a hit record on his hands – the first of 27 of his singles to reach the pop chart. “Jeremiah Peabody’s Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills,” his comedic but searing poke at television commercial hucksterism, premiered on the Billboard Hot 100 on August 21, 1961, peaked at No. 35, and remained on the chart for six weeks. Ray was on his way.

He flourished as a “crossover” recording artist, who achieved popularity among country music fans as well as pop music audiences. During four decades, Ray racked up 52 chart singles: 18 releases that reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart, 25 that were exclusively country hits on the Billboard Hot Country chart, and nine others that registered in the top 100 on both pop and country charts. His singles “Gitarzan” (1969), “Everything Is Beautiful” (1970), and “The Streak” (1974) earned Recording Industry Association of America gold record recognition. He recorded Kris Kristofferson’s bitterly tender song “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” before Johnny Cash did. As a session musician, he played trumpet on an Elvis Presley track. Years later Ray’s company published “Way Down,” the last hit that Elvis had before dying in 1977.

Throughout his 55-year career, Ray Stevens has been anything but predictable. No two Ray Stevens songs have been alike. Some of his recordings have been sentimental, others introspective, but most of them have been flat-out wacky – none more so than his feathers-flying impression of chickens clucking out Glenn Miller’s classic tune “In the Mood,” under the name The Henhouse Five Plus Too. Most recently, he has concentrated on scathing political satire. And although he casts himself as a bit of a bumpkin in the comedic videos he has made during recent years, he is a shrewd, experienced, multi-talented, Grammy-winning entertainment professional who has earned respect in the music industry.

Ray’s real musical education

“[Musician, composer, and arranger] Bill Justis was a great friend and great musician, and he taught me a lot about arranging. Although I never graduated from Georgia State, I spent three years there studying music theory and composition. But I learned more in three days from Bill Justis than during all that time in college. He was the first guy who showed me how to lay out a score, and it all just fell into place. In the basement of his house he showed me a big table laid out with score pages, and it was a revelation to me.”

Serving as Andy Williams’ summer TV replacement host

“The inducement for me to sign with Barnaby [Records] was to host the Andy Williams summer show on NBC television. I was scared to death. I did the best I could at the time, and it was okay, I guess. I’d like to do it over with the experience I have now.”

What influenced Ray to go serious with ‘Everything Is Beautiful’

“I wrote ‘Everything is Beautiful’ to be the theme song for the TV show, and it was my first record on Barnaby. And sure enough, it was a successful song. I think there are ideas floating around in space, and every once in a while, I zone out and tune in and I can get those vibrations. I’m not trying to go weird on ya. It has come to my attention over the years that a lot of songwriters will write the same damn song at the same time, and that’s because of the ideas that are floating around in what some people call ‘the universal mind.’ I just think I was able to tap into some ideas that were floating around in space.”

Why Ray wrote ‘Mr. Businessman’

“I had gotten the short end of a business deal, and I was kicking myself because I should have known better. So instead of punching the guy in the nose, I wrote that song to vent my frustration and anger.”

Would political critic Ray ever run for elective office?

“I’m from the rural south and just a redneck Southern boy, but I’m way too smart for that.”

Ray Stevens in 2012 

(photo by Shannon Fontaine, courtesy of Ray Stevens)


The narrative and quotations in this article are excerpted from the book Where Have All the Pop Stars Gone? — Volume 2, by Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March. This material is copyrighted © 2012 by EditPros LLC and may not be reproduced or redistributed without written permission.

Pick up YOUR copy here ...


I have always been a fan of Ray Stevens' music.  (His theater was closed during our last trip to Nashville but I would still like to venture back again someday to see his show there.)

I visited his Barnaby Records office back in the early '70's (again, he was out of town at the time!), trying to pedal some of my OWN songs.  There were a couple that drew some interest, but nothing ever came of the experience.  

I love the versatility that Ray brings to the table.  Pop, Country, Novelty or Straight, the man knows which buttons to push to entertain an audience.  I am definitely a fan.  (kk)

THE RAY STEVENS HIT LIST  (Billboard Top 50 Pop and Country Hits)

1961 - Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green And Purple Pills  (#35 Pop / #xx Country)

1962 - Ahab The Arab (#5 Pop / #xx Country)

1962 - Santa Claus Is Watching You (#45 Pop / #xx Country)

1963 - Harry The Hairy Ape (#17 Pop / #xx Country)

1968 - Mr. Businessman (#28 Pop / #xx Country)

1969 - Gitarzan (#8 Pop / #xx Country)


1969 - Along Came Jones (#27 Pop / #xx Country)

1970 - Everything Is Beautiful (#1 Pop / #39 Country)


1970 - America, Communicate With Me (#45 Pop / #xx Country)

1971 - Bridget The Midget (The Queen Of The Blues)  #50 Pop / #xx Country

1972 - Turn Your Radio On (#63 Pop / #17 Country)

1973 - Nashville (#xx Pop / #37 Country)

1974 - The Streak (#1 Pop / #3 Country)

1975 - Everybody Needs A Rainbow (#xx Pop / #37 Country)

1975 - Misty (#14 Pop / #3 Country)

1975 - Indian Love Call (#68 Pop / #38 Country)

1976 - Young Love (#93 Pop / #48 Country)

1976 - You Are So Beautiful (#101 Pop / #16 Country)

1976 - Honky Tonk Waltz (#xx Pop / #27 Country)

1977 - In The Mood (#40 Pop / #39 Country) as Henhouse Five Plus Too


1977 - Dixie Hummingbird (#xx Pop / #44 Country)

1978 - Be Your Own Best Friend (#xx Pop / #36 Country)

1979 - I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow (#49 Pop / #85 Country)


1980 - Shriner's Convention (#101 Pop / #7 Country)

1980 - Night Games (#xx Pop / #20 Country)

1981 - One More Last Chance (#xx Pop / #33 Country)

1982 - Written Down In My Heart (#xx Pop / #35 Country)

1985 - Mississippi Squirrel Revival (#xx Pop / #20 Country)

1985 - The Haircut Songo (#xx Pop / #45 Country)

1986 - The Ballad Of The Blue Cyclone (#xx Pop / #50 Country)

1987 - Would Jesus Wear A Rolex (#xx Pop / #41 Country)

2002 - Osama-Yo'Mama (#xx Pop / #48 Country)

BONUS TRACK:  "Unwind" (#52 in 1968 ... and always one of my favorite of Ray's more serious songs)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022


Today, we finally get 'round to our piece on Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood.


Harvey Kubernik kicks things off with an interview he did with Nancy Sinatra, talking about her string of hits produced by Lee Hazlewood


Nancy Sinatra Remembers Her Unlikely But Brilliant Collaborator, Lee Hazlewood

By Harvey Kubernik 


“Nancy brought the brand into present time, and enhanced its originator, a rare feat indeed. Normally the offspring tarnish; Nancy moved it forward. Lee Hazlewood laid his very soul upon the singer.” –Former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham


Initially, Hazlewood maintained a behind-the-scenes role with Sinatra, enlisting arranger and composer Billy Strange, as well as other members of the Wrecking Crew (the famed Los Angeles session musicians) for the singer’s best-selling 1966 debut LP, Boots. But when they returned to the studio later that year for Sinatra’s sophomore effort, How Does That Grab You?, Hazlewood joined the singer for a duet of his song, “Sand.” Over the next year, as Sinatra’s star rose, the artists continued to collaborate in the vocal booth, finding success with “Summer Wine,” “Lady Bird” and the cinematic “Some Velvet Morning” (all penned by Hazlewood.)  In 1967, just months after Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash scored a country hit with “Jackson,” Sinatra and Hazlewood released a pop version of the offbeat song, landing it in the top 10 across Europe and peaking at #14 in the U.S.


Recalling her duets with Hazlewood, Sinatra says, “We used to call it Beauty and the Beast! Voices with no blend.” Indeed, no one could have predicted that these two contrasting voices (and personalities) would work together quite so well. Praising the duo’s “sonic alchemy,” Hunter Lea writes, “Rarely in music has there been such an unlikely collaboration: Nancy, the sassy and sweet songstress contrasted by Lee, the gruff, psychedelic cowboy. A harmonic partnership that defies conventional logic yet yields so much beauty.”


Before long, it seemed only natural for the artists to release an entire album together. In addition to compiling their recent duets (many of which appeared on Sinatra’s solo LPs), the duo recorded several new covers and Hazlewood originals. Billy Strange and the Wrecking Crew provided lush orchestral arrangements, as the two artists performed a range of material, including folk, pop and country songs, with a twist of psychedelia.


Throughout the album, a palpable chemistry can be heard between Sinatra and Hazlewood, from the frisky banter on “Greenwich Village Folk Song Salesman” to the tongue-in-cheek delivery of ”I’ve Been Down So Long (It Looks Up To Me).” But the artists also reveal their softer sides, particularly in the romantic balladry of “Sand.” Their languid rendition of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” meanwhile, is downright erotic, despite the lyrics. But, as Sinatra asserts, her decades-long relationship with Hazlewood was always platonic. “We had sort of a love/hate relationship,” she explains. “Maybe it was a sexual tension because we never had any kind of affair. I don’t know exactly what it was, but it worked.”


In 2021, I had the opportunity to interview Nancy Sinatra about her work with Hazlewood and her career in general.


Harvey Kubernik: What did you learn from watching recording artists like your father, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr.?


Nancy Sinatra: I think we learn from everything as we go along. Just about anyone will tell you that the phrasing is solely dependent on the song and the lyrics, at least it should be, although I know there are people who just sing on the beat no matter what. It’s a shame they don’t experiment a little bit. I don’t think I copied anybody. I didn’t like my early [1961-1964 Reprise] records and my “Nancy Nice Lady Voice” and the records [produced by Tutti Camarata and Don Costa]. It wasn’t really me. And then I was very eager to make the change later that Barton [Barton Lee Hazlewood was his full name] was asking for after [producer] Jimmy Bowen suggested Barton. I was going to be dropped from the label.


HK:  In 1965 you employed a new lower voice register in your recordings like “Boots.”


NS:  It was up to the song. The songs were so different and we were experimenting with songs that were recorded by men and I was very fond of changing lyrics around, like [the Beatles’] “Run For Your Life” and songs like that. I felt, in those days, having a girl — not a woman — sing them was just better.


HK:  You have always said you knew “Boots” was going to be a smash, and Chuck Berghoffer’s seductive opening bass line was a crucial aspect of the recording. 


NS:  I absolutely knew it was going to be a hit. The “Boots” bass line is unique and special; you know what the song is the minute you hear that bass. That was Barton’s idea. He played it on the guitar, which is hard to do, because the guitar has frets. It’s s a quartertone line and you can’t play quartertone with a fretted instrument. And Chuck’s upright bass, he was able to slide down that intro. Yes, that was Barton’s doing, too. He wanted that from Chuck. I thought the bass was the star of that record.


HK:  You had a teacher/student relationship with Lee Hazlewood. Tell me about the pre-production period when you first heard and reviewed material he would present, which he often wrote.  


NS:  Well, since every recording begins with the song, mostly Barton and Billy would come over to my house. “We’ve got a new song. We want to come over and work it out.” The process was quite simple because they pretty much had it set in their heads before they played a song for me. Lee was such a fine producer and he knew where a horn line was gonna go. And he pretty much knew what the horn line was gonna be. “Arkansas Coal” and “Paris Summer” are two of my favorites. “Down From Dover,” a Dolly Parton song. We were very serious. I mean we were very serious.


HK:  And then there were duets, where you really complement each other.


NS:  I don’t think there’s been anybody else who has captured that, any other duo. I really don’t.


HK:  There was a sexual tension but you weren’t romantically involved with Lee. 


NS:  It was acting, good acting. Yeah, we did have a chemistry and we capitalized on it. I trusted him. One of the essential parts of recording in those days was the tape reverb which, for people who don’t know, is a way of creating a kind of compounded echo chamber. Now I guess there are ways to create the analog sound digitally, but when we were making all those hit records, there was a reel-to-reel tape machine in the booth spinning constantly during sessions. I don’t know how to explain it technically, but it added depth and it was an honesty that digital doesn’t have. It’s like when you record live and the room sounds are happening and the chairs are creaking and people are breathing, that sort of thing. It just makes a difference in the way the recordings sound. When I was doing records later on in my life, I had to really scrounge around to get that sound.


HK:  Billy Strange arranged and played guitar on “Boots” and he did the instrumental arrangement for your duet with your father on “Something Stupid.” How did he enter your life?     


NS:  Lee brought Billy over to my mom’s house after my divorce [from singer/actor Tommy Sands]. Lee dictated to Billy what he wanted to hear on the “Boots” single. Billy understood. He was just learning how to arrange. He started pretty much strictly with country and then California rock. His guitar playing was extraordinary. He’s made some wonderful albums over the years. Unfortunately, they got buried somewhere along the way. Billy bled that guitar. His soul and pain and joy came out through that instrument.


HK:  Tell me about recording with the musicians known as the Wrecking Crew.


NS:  They were absolutely breathtaking to watch. You’d come into a studio and sometimes you’d have written charts, but most of the time you would have chord sheets and they would create almost everything. The arrangements grew as time went on and, of course, when they worked with my dad or Dean, people like that, they had charts to read. Glen [Campbell] could never read. He listened to the run-throughs and he was so quick he picked up immediately what he had to do and it was without a hitch.


HK:  You have said that you also knew immediately that “Somethin’ Stupid” was going to be a hit single. How did that song become part of your repertoire?


NS:  Carson Parks, who helped write it, already had a record of it out, with a woman [Gaile Foote] singing. Sarge Weiss [aka Irving Weiss], a song plugger, found that recording and he played it for my dad. He said, “I think this is a great song for you and Nancy.” And my dad said, “Get it to Nancy and if she likes it we’ll do it.” And I loved it, of course, from the guitar intro. Once again it is that hook in the intro in the song that grabs me, like the descending bass line in “Boots.” We brought in the key rhythm players at the end of one of the [Antonio Carlos] Jobim sessions my dad had.”



Keeping the Nancy and Lee vibe going, I just HAVE to share with you some of the coverage of this duo’s work together as reported by Joel Selvin in his EXCELLENT book, “Hollywood Eden.”  (HIGHLY recommended!)





This is a terrific review ... have just shared it with Joel and his publisher.  


Bob Merlis


Based on your rave review of "Hollywood Eden," it looks I'll be shelling out some more cash. 

Sam Tallerico


I want to read ‘Hollywood Eden’ after your glowing review.


David Salidor


I just finished reading a good book on the California Sound from the 50's and 60's called "Hollywood Eden" by Joel Selvin.  Very interesting stories about how some of the hit records became to be.  Much credit given to Jan and Dean for their contribution to Surf Music, before the Beach Boys ... Fun reading.



I’ve heard about this book but never in the detail that you described it.  Now I can’t wait to read it.  (I love how you stir our interest without giving too much away … so that we can enjoy and discover these stories just as you did when you read it!)



There are SO many great stories in this book.  (Not even in the wildest episode of "The Twilight Zone" could I ever imagine Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis, Jr. entertaining at Nancy Sinatra's Senior Dance!!!)

You'll meet the REAL Gidget ... you'll observe a lifestyle that only exists in movies ... unless, of course, you actually lived in Hollywood, too, during this era!

Highly recommended.  (kk)




There are SO many great stories about Nancy Sinatra in Joel’s book … and about so many OTHER artists from this era as well.  Today, we’ll just concentrate on the development of the relationship of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood as it pertains to her hit-making career.  (Many thanks to Joel Selvin, who gave us permission to quote his book verbatim for the purpose of today’s piece.  My hope is that this will give you just a taste of what he covers in his masterpiece and you’ll go out and order your OWN copy of his book, “Hollywood Eden.” – kk)


Producer Jimmy Bowen resuscitated the flat-lined career of Dean Martin with “Everybody Loves Somebody” and made smashes with The Chariman of the Board himself, Frank Sinatra, owner of Reprise Records.

Sinatra hadn’t had a big, juicy hit record since the fifties … but Bowen brought in the young studio musicians, now known as The Wrecking Crew, who had been making all the hits with Phil Spector, The Beach Boys and everybody else and used veteran R&B arranger Ernie Freeman to cut “Strangers In The Night” and “That’s Life,” two songs that Sinatra never liked and wouldn’t perform in public … that both became HUGE smashes on the pop charts.


Bowen was then teamed with Nancy Sinatra, expressly to make a hit record.  They worked up a version of Cole Porter’s “True Love” with a slow drag rhythm and enough echo it could have passed for a Phil Spector record that at least sounded like a hit, even it if wasn’t.


After Nancy asked him point blank, “So, this thing with Keely … is it really serious or what?”  (Bowen was engaged to marry singer Keely Smith … but lately, he had been entertaining doubts.)  “Now that you mention it,” he said, “no, I guess not.”


Their affair went bouncing back and forth between Nancy’s place at her mother’s house in Bel Air and Bowen’s bachelor pad in the Hollywood Hills.  They spent a weekend holed up in one of the bungalows at the Sinatra compound in Palm Springs, but since they never took their personal relationship public, Bowen never knew if her father knew they were seeing each one another or not.


He remained engaged to Keely Smith, a formidable woman eight years his senior with two small children from her marriage to band-leader Louis Prima.  Smith was pulling down a half million a year by herself, working part-time in Vegas.  The affair with twenty-five-year-old Nancy Sinatra convinced Bowen to call of the marriage and, blind drunk, he flew off to Las Vegas to tell Smith in person and retrieve the $40,000 engagement ring he had given her.  He passed out on the plane.


The next night, he met Smith at her hotel suite, but instead of calling off the engagement, ended up marrying her at an all-night wedding chapel with comic Joe E. Lewis and Bowen’s assistant as witnesses.


Nancy was stunned and shattered.  She came unglued talking to Bowen’s man, who called her in Bel Air the next day.  She had already heard the news and did not take it well.  This put Bowen in an especially ticklish situation at the record company, where he was being pressured to come up with a hit record for the boss’s daughter or face dropping her from the label.  He went to see Lee Hazlewood.


Bowen and Hazlewood were old friends.  Bowen had bought a house next door to Hazlewood in Toluca Lake, near the Warner Brothers studio.  A churlish character who was considering retiring from the record business at thirty-eight years old, Hazlewood was the son of an Oklahoma wildcatter and grew up bouncing from one oil field to another before joining the Army and serving in the Korean War.  He got into the record business while working as a disc jockey in Phoenix, where he produced a series of cataclysmic rock and roll instrumental hits with guitarist Duane Eddy.  He move to Los Angeles while Eddy was still hot and been making hits in town ever since.


Hazlewood had been partners in record labels with music publisher Lester Sill, who was a crucial early sponsor of teenage Phil Spector in the record business.  Sill sent young Spector to Phoenix to watch Hazlewood record and ask questions, although Hazelwood never particularly cared for the little creep.  That was years before Hazlewood went on to produce dozens of records, write songs and even make records himself.  He was a cranky Hollywood cowboy with plenty of money who wanted to sit by his pool, drink Chivas and tell the record business to go to hell.  When Bowen came to see him about Nancy Sinatra, Hazlewood had especially had it with celebrity offspring, after spending the previous year making records with teenagers Dino, Desi and Billy … Dean Martin, Jr., Desi Arnaz, Jr. and their friend Billy Hinsche … who Hazlewood hated but put on the charts with “I’m A Fool.”  He didn’t want anything to do with Nancy Sinatra, but he agreed to take a meeting.


Bowen took Hazlewood and arranger Billy Strange over to the Nimes Road place, where Nancy’s Father happened to be visiting.  While he stretched out with a newspaper in the living room, Nancy and the guys retired to the bar … which was stocked with Chivas, his favorite Scotch, Hazlewood couldn’t help but note.  They talked songs.  Hazlewood took out a guitar and played a few.  He wrote songs with attitude:  he laced country-flavored chord changes with hard truths and dripping sarcasm.  He was surprised to find Nancy Sinatra so smart and engaging.  She liked several of the songs, especially one that only had two verses.


“That’s not a woman’s song,” he told her.  “I wrote that for myself to sing at parties.  It’s not even finished.”


He told her he would try to write a third verse and that they should meet again.  Hazlewood still wasn’t certain what to think, but he was more inclined to take her on that he’d thought he would be.  When they got to the foyer, her father was waiting to let them out.  Sinatra reached out and shook Hazlewood’s hand, locking him with those famous blue eyes.  “I’m glad you’re going to be working with us,” he said.


Up to that moment, Hazlewood wasn’t certain he was going to, but there was no way he could back out now.


Hazlewood took the woman he came to think of as “The Pope’s Daughter” into the studio with one of his sneering kiss-off songs.  He wasn’t buying the coquette act.  He knew she had been married and had no reason to sing like she was a virgin.  He wanted her to snarl a little, sound a little sultry, maybe even aggressive, but whatever she was, he wanted her to sound like an adult.  Damn if “So Long Babe,” released in October, 1965, didn’t give Nancy Sinatra her first chart record after four years of trying.  It wasn’t some monster hit … it slipped on and off the charts in just four weeks … but it meant Nancy Sinatra was not going to be dropped by her father’s record company and she would live to make another record.


Lee Hazlewood wrote that third verse to the song that Nancy Sinatra had admired.  Her father had overheard the tunes from the living room.  “I like that boots song best,” he told her after Hazlewood and the others had left Nimes Road that afternoon, but Hazlewood was not convinced.  He wrote another song specifically for Nancy, “The City Never Sleeps At Night,” that he was certain would be her breakthrough hit.  Hazlewood saw Nancy for who she could be.  (She was a twenty-five-year-old rich kid living at home after a divorce who wouldn’t have a job if it wasn’t for her last name.)


Hazlewood saw something more.  He treated her less reverentially than she was accustomed to:  his working nickname for her was “Nasty.”  He was a crusty contrarian who carefully maintained his outsider status even after years in Hollywood.  In Hazlewood, Nancy Sinatra finally found someone in her life who could see her as separate and distinct from her father.  It’s not that he wasn’t impressed by who her father was … he simply didn’t care.


It was arranger Billy Strange who thought of adding the descending quarter tones leading into the verses.  For the November 19th session at Western Recorders, Hazlewood hired Chuck Berghofer to play double bass … he was bassist at the house band at the Hollywood jazz club Shelley’s Manne-Hole, owned by drummer Shelley Manne … as well as Carol Kay, a more familiar presence at rock and roll sessions, on Fender bass.  He also booked seven additional guitarists for the session, drummer Hal Blaine, and the rest of the gang.  The first time they ran the tune and heard the bass break on the track, everybody in the room knew they were on to something special.


“There Boots Are Made For Walkin’” wasn’t meant to be sung as much as sneered.  The message was all in the attitude.  Nancy Sinatra had never been asked to inhabit such a commanding role in any of her past performances … but Hazlewood was determined to make a woman out of her.  He would tell her to think sexy, and she would wonder what that meant.  “Bite the lyric,” Hazlewood told her.  “Don’t sing it like a child.”  Hazlewood knew what he wanted.  “Sing it like you’re a sixteen-year-old girl who fucks truck drivers,” he said.


Nancy got the picture.  What followed “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” for Nancy Sinatra was nothing less than a complete reinvention, starting with golden blonde hair.  She had never been encouraged to be herself.  She wouldn’t have know what to do if anyone had.  (Married to Tommy Sands, she struggled to meet her husband’s expectations.  Being known as someone’s daughter tended to infantilize her.)


Nancy adopted the wardrobe of a go-go dancer and posed for her album cover prone in textured stockings, striped shirt and miniskirt, with the camera looking straight up her skirt and her looking back with an insouciant stare.


The single caught on out of the gate.  “Miss Sinatra has top of the chart potential with this fine folk-rock material from the pen of Lee Hazlewood,” wrote Billboard.  “Her vocal performance and the Billy Strange driving dance beat should move this one rapidly up the chart.


And the hits just kept on coming … including a number of duets sung with her producer and new singing partner.  


Check out the NANCY SINATRA HIT LIST below …




Contrary to popular belief, Nancy Sinatra did NOT ride on her famous father’s coattails for a sure-fire recording career.  Her first three releases (dating back to 1962) didn’t even crack The Top 100 … and even after teaming with producer Lee Hazlewood, her first song to do so, “So Long Babe,” only peaked at #81.


But then she donned her boots … and pulled together a string of fourteen Top 50 Hits over the course of the next three years.


1966 – These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ (#1)

1966 – How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?  (#6)

1966 – Friday’s Child (#36)

1966 – In Our Time (#46)

1967 – Sugar Town (#4)

1967 – Summer Wine (with Lee Hazlewood) #49

1967 – Love Eyes (#12)

1967 – Jackson (with Lee Hazlewood)  #13

1967 – You Only Live Twice (title theme to the James Bond film of the same name) #44

1967 – Lightning’s Girl (#18)

1968 – Lady Bird (#20)

1968 – Some Velvet Morning (with Lee Hazlewood) #26

1968 – Happy (#44)