Lee Hazelwood lost his battle with renal cancer yesterday at age ’78. An amazing songwriter with an unforgettable baritone, he was ’60s icon and an extremely cool cat. Idolator has a nice obituary, as does the BBC.
He was best known for working with Nancy Sinatra, writing her biggest hit "These Boots are Made for Walkin’," as well as psychedelic classic "Some Velvet Morning" that has been covered countless times by indie/alternative bands over the last 20 years. (Slowdive’s version is particularly good.) But my favorite Nancy & Lee song is "Summer Wine," with its wistful, spooky string section.
MP3: Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood – Summer Wine (from 1968’s Nancy & Lee)
And here’s a fitting song from Lee’s 1963 solo debut, a cowboy storyteller album called Trouble is a Lonesome Town:
Stephen Jones (aka Babybird) covered "We All Make the Flowers Grow" on 2002’s Total Lee: the Songs of Lee Hazelwood, one of the more listenable tribute albums of recent years. I like his version, which samples Hazelwood’s original spoken intro, just as much.
And that fantastic version of "Some Velvet Morning" by Slowdive:
Youtube clips are somewhat disappointing. Weirdly, I had to go to MySpace to find the clip of Nancy and Lee on horseback singing "Some Velvet Morning" from Nancy Sinatra’s 1968 NBC special, Movin’ with Nancy. But here it is:
However, YouTube does have most of the clips from Lee’s Swedish television special, Cowboy in Sweden (based on his album of the same name), which isn’t quite as good as the title might imply. But "No Train to Stockholm" is pretty great:
There’s also most of his other Swedish TV special, Love and Other Crimes. which is more of a standard TV variety hour. They really liked him over there. We like him here. RIP, Lee.