Sunday, August 05, 2007

WE SAY GOODBYE TO LEE HAZLEWOOD

Miss Holly King, host of Rockabilly and Beyond, on Radio Free Phoenix sent this to us from Lee Hazlewood's MySpace page:

It is with great sadness that we announce that LEE HAZLEWOOD has died peacefully at his home outside Las Vegas, USA, after a three year struggle with cancer. He celebrated his 78th birthday earlier this month surrounded by family and friends from around the world. He passed away on August 4th, 2007, in Henderson, Nevada, and is survived by his son Mark, his daughters Debbie and Samantha, and his devoted wife Jeane.

For over half a century, LEE HAZLEWOOD proved himself to be one of the most ingenious, inspired and impressively stubborn sons-of-a-bitch the music industry ever saw. His career – a word that HAZLEWOOD himself scorned – saw him take on almost every aspect of the music industry – a word that HAZLEWOOD himself was equally dismissive of – and come out on top every time. Most famous for his work with Nancy Sinatra – he wrote and produced many of Nancy Sinatra's biggest hits, including "These Boots Were Made For Walking," "Sugartown" and the unforgettable "Some Velvet Morning."

HAZLEWOOD in fact started his musical career as a DJ in Coolidge, Arizona. It was here he first met Duane Eddy, with whom he began to flesh out and record some of his songs. In 1955 he set up Viv Records and in 1956 hit paydirt with Sanford Clark's legendary "The Fool." The following year he gave up his work as a dj to focus on production and writing. In the early 1960s he established the LHI Label (which is best known for having released the debut album by Gram Parson’s first group, The International Submarine Band) and began releasing his own solo albums, including the extraordinary "Trouble Is A Lonesome Town."

In the mid sixties, in the face of The British Invasion (led by the likes of The Beatles), HAZLEWOOD retired to the shadows (where he was always most comfortable) only to be reluctantly dragged out to work with Nancy Sinatra. Their work together – including the iconic "Boots" – was an overnight success and saw her become a star in her own right worldwide, but she also insisted that HAZLEWOOD step out in front of the microphone himself, leading to the release of three "Nancy & Lee" albums.In the early 1970s HAZLEWOOD moved to Sweden to ensure his son was not drafted by the US military. He recorded a series of solo albums there as well as collaborating with film director Torbj√∂rn Axelman, but then ‘retired’ again, working only occasionally over the next two decades.

Instead he began to follow an itinerant lifestyle which he pursued until very recently, living in Ireland, Germany, Spain and of course America. However it was the rediscovery of this work two decades later by a new generation of musicians including the likes of Sonic Youth, whose drummer Steve Shelley tracked HAZLEWOOD down and reissued a number of his solo albums on his Smells Like Records imprint. That led to a resurgence of interest in his work as a performer.

In the late 1990s he returned to the studio to record a typically cryptically titled standards album "Farmisht, Flatulence, Origami, ARF!!! and Me", and in 1999 he returned to the stage at the invitation of Nick Cave who was curating that year’s Meltdown Festival in London.

Following a sold out show at the Royal Festival Hall he sanctioned the release of two albums of unreleased material, most notably "For Every Solution There’s A Problem," toured Europe, and then returned to the studio to record his final album "Cake Or Death" which was released to worldwide acclaim in 2006.

HAZLEWOOD’s music has always been a staple of movie soundtracks, but it has continued to become more and more fashionable, regularly turning up in films as diverse as The Dukes Of Hazzard – which saw Jessica Simpson perform 'These Boots Were Made For Walking' for the title track – and the arthouse flick 'Morvern Callar' – which used "Some Velvet Morning" to great effect.

The family have requested that those wishing to honor LEE HAZLEWOOD should make donations to the Salvation Army

"Kiss all the pretty ones goodbye,

Give everyone a penny that cry;

You can throw all my 'tranquil' pills away,

Let my blood pressure go on its way,

For my autumn's done come,
My autumn’s done come."

by,
Lee Hazlewood from "My Autumn’s Done Come"

3 comments:

More Chips (with gravy) on my shoulder said...

A sad loss - but his growling, amazing voice lives on. I've posted a small tribute to the man on lozman2.blogspot.com

Tom Wright said...

I may have disappeared from the blog lately - new job pressures - but I still check in every now and then. I've got to say that Lee Hazlewood was one of my heroes - his dry vocal style and offbeat songs really stood out, even in the eclecticism of the 1960s. If he'd done nothing but produce Duane Eddy and create those amazing records with Nancy Sinatra, he'd still earn a special corner of heaven, but as we know he did a great deal more. Plus, he reminds us that a lot of talented folks have come out of Arizona, and created a lot of fine music over the last 50 years!

Mariah Fleming said...

Well said Tom...and GREAT to hear from you!!!