Lee Hazlewood grew up in Oklahoma and Louisiana, listening to both pop and bluegrass music. After serving in the army in Korea, Lee got a job as a disc jockey in Phoenix. In 1956 he wrote and produced The Fool, a single that went to #7 on the Hot 100. He then produced and co-wrote a series of instrumentals with Duane Eddy including the non-instrumental Dance With The Guitar Man (which reached #12 in 1962).
Lee wrote Houston and again produced a recording by Sanford Clark in 1964. When Sanford’s version failed to chart, Dean Martin recorded the song in 1965. His country-pop version reached #21 on the Hot 100 and peaked at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. That success led to Lee writing and producing songs for Dean’s daughter, Deana.
Another daughter of a famous singer who was seeking a successful singing career was Nancy Sinatra (Frank’s daughter). She had been recording singles that nobody had been buying since 1961, and in 1965, Lee began to work with her. He wrote and produced the single So Long Babe, but the mild country-pop song didn’t succeed any better. Nancy appeared on Hullabaloo (with her original dark hair!) and did not appear comfortable performing.
The next single Lee wrote and produced for her was These Boots Were Made For Walkin’. Lee helped change her appearance as well and the result was a video that led to a million-selling record.
Lee wrote and produced several more hit songs for Nancy, including a duet he sang with her that became the B-side of Sugar Town. In 1967 he produced the duet Somethin’ Stupid, which turned into the biggest record of Nancy and Frank’s career.
Encouraged by his success, Lee formed his own record label, LHI Records. His label signed the Boston area group the International Submarine Band. Gram Parsons was the leader of the group. Their first album didn’t succeed. When the Byrds lost most of their members, Gram left his group and joined the Byrds. He convinced the group to record their next album in Nashville and was instrumental in the recording of their next album, Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Unfortunately, Gram was still under contract with LHI. As the result of lawsuits Lee filed, the court forced the Byrds to remove most of the lead vocals Gram did on the album. Roger McGuinn sang replacement vocals.
Lee and Nancy’s successful collaborations continued through 1968 and included several songs they sang on together. The string ended with the release of Some Velvet Morning. The song came complete with unusual lyrics and they shot an equally strange video for Nancy’s television special, Movin’ With Nancy. The single peaked at #26 on the Hot 100. It was Nancy’s last visit to the top forty. Lee later had a granddaughter named Phaedra as a tribute to the single.
Lee abandoned the music industry by the late seventies. He died from cancer in 2007.
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