Monday, August 06, 2007

And now someone else is getting all your best

RIP Lee Hazelwood:
Songwriter, producer and singer Lee Hazlewood — best known for the No. 1 hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" — has died after a long battle with cancer.

The 78-year-old music-industry veteran spent most of his career writing or producing hits for others, while his own records lampooned the business. In fact, Hazlewood became legendary for his independence and for his disdain for the industry — an attitude that earned him the adoration of a later generation of rock musicians that includes Nick Cave and Sonic Youth.
What not everyone knows about Hazlewood is his contribution to guitar rock. He worked with Duane Eddy on several of Eddy's early guitar hits like "Rebel Rouser". Here's Duane talking about Lee:

And here's some comments from my friend Bob Ohllson, who worked at Motown Hitsville Studios in Detroit, and is now a mastering engineer in Nashville:
I mastered Lee's second to last album.

I dropped off the ref at his hotel room and asked if he would be watching
the Grammys that night. Lee answered with a tirade about how they had
insisted that Nat Cole be entered only as an R&B singer and not a pop
singer. He told me he never had anything further to do with NARAS.

As our conversation rambled on, it became obvious Lee could have written THE
book about the rise of both LA as a major recording center and the rise of
Atlantic Records. The Drifters, Leiber and Stoller, Phil Spector, Sonny and
Cher, Sinatra, Bill Putnum, Gold Star, Nesui and Ahmet Ertegun, they all
figure into Lee's story. One of my mentors was Joe Atkinson who had been
Atlantic's mastering engineer for ten or fifteen years. Lee's obscure
stories fit what Joe had told me twenty years earlier like a glove. This
clearly was the real deal and not a bunch of BS.

And that's not to mention Duane Eddy who transformed Lee's career from that
of a Phoenix disk jockey into an important early pop record producer.
There's also what Lee called "the song with a life of its own" aka "Boots."
The royalties turned music into his hobby.

More from the NPR piece:
Hazlewood's songs have been covered by artists as diverse as British indie-rockers Primal Scream, German experimental- industrial outfit Einstürzende Neubauten, and pop kitten Jessica Simpson. Here's what they sound like in the original:

With Nancy Sinatra:

Please don't confuse Hazlewood with the awful Lee Greenwood:
He is best known for writing and recording the patriotic song "God Bless the USA" in the early 1980s. "God Bless the USA" gained renewed popularity following the launch of Operation: Desert Storm in 1991, and again, ten years later, following the September 11, 2001 attacks; in fact, the song even re-entered the Top 20 of the country charts in late 2001. Since then, Greenwood has played at many public events and commemorations of the attacks. He supports the United States Republican Party and campaigned for George W. Bush in the 2004 elections.

Trust me, Hazlewood was a different guy.