09 August 2007

Vale Lee Hazlewood

It's the end of the line for Lee Hazlewood.

Best known for his work with Nancy Sinatra, Hazlewood was a musical pioneer who worked with the likes of Duane Eddy, Phil Spector and a band formed by the sons of Dean Martin and Desi Arnaz, Dino, Desi and Billy.

Hazlewood's work with Eddy introduced the world to reverb as Eddy's guitar became known as the twangiest ever. Not sure how, but somehow Eddy managed to avoid riding the short-lived surf instrumental wave that was around not long after.

Later, he did some work with Sanford Clark, preceding Gram Parsons by a good ten years or so - which I guess makes Hazlewood the real godfather of alt-country.

But his best known work was with Nancy Sinatra.

On These Boots Were Made For Walkin', Hazlewood got Sinatra to sing down an octave, and as a result, her career boomed. Hazlewood produced most of Sinatra's work, and even recorded two albums with her. Seen as ├╝ber-kitsch for a long time, Hazlewood and Sinatra's work is seen as visionary by the cool crowd these days and is name-checked regularly the likes of Jarvis Cocker from Pulp, Beck and Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth. Some Velvet Morning, possibly up there with Macarthur Park as one of the most out-there songs ever written, was a big hit for the pair, and was recently covered by Primal Scream.

Hazlewood also produced a duet between Sinatra and her father, Frank called Somethin' Stupid which was a huge hit.

Hazlewood's death will probably not be noticed by many people. But he will be missed.