Lee Hazelwood passed away at the age of 78 on August 4th, in Henderson, Nevada after a three year struggle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Jeane, son Mark, and daughters Debbie and Samantha. Barton Lee Hazelwood was born in Mannford, Oklahoma in 1928. He served in the Army during the Korean War, disc jockeying for Armed Services Radio in Japan, which led him to his first job as a DJ in Coolidge, Arizona. He began writing songs and scored his first big hit in 1956. Lee wrote and produced the rockabilly single “The Fool” for Sanford Clark.
Lee also did some production for a local Phoenix guitarist named Duane Eddy. It was Hazlewood’s early ideas with different guitar effects that caught the ear of Jamie Records, who signed Eddy. The guitarist went on to score twelve top forty hits before leaving the label. Phil Spector also came under Hazlewood’s influence when he observed Lee’s recording techniques in the studio. Spector’s first productions were released on the Trey label which was owned by Hazlewood and Lester Sill.
In the early 60’s, he established the LHI label, which allowed him to launch his own singing career as well as others like Gram Parsons and his first group, The International Submarine Band. In 1963 he recorded a solo album of his own, “Trouble In A Lonesome Town” which earned him critical acclaim and his first commercial failure.
The mid sixties finally saw the spotlight of celebrity shine on Lee, with the help of Nancy Sinatra. He wrote and produced many of her biggest hits, including These Boots Were Made For Walking, Sugartown and the unforgettable Some Velvet Morning. Their work together helped Nancy become a worldwide star, but she insisted that Lee step our in front of the microphone also, leading to three “Nancy & Lee” albums.
In the early 1970s Lee moved to Sweden. He recorded “Cowboy In Sweden” for Swedish TV and dabbled in some film soundtracks, but unofficially retired and worked only occasionally over the next two decades. Instead he traveled a lot, living for a time in Ireland, Germany, Spain and of course America. His solo work was rediscovered by a new generation of performers like Primal Scream, Megadeath and Nick Cave. Drummer Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth was so taken with Lee’s work, that he re-issued many of Lee’s solo albums on his own label.
His final album, “Cake or Death”, was released in 2006, several months after his cancer diagnosis, but he nevertheless worked hard to promote it, granting interviews and even traveling. The Hazelwood family has requested that those wishing to honor Lee should make donations to the Salvation Army.
In addition to the many hit Nancy/Lee duets, we play other Lee Hazelwood compositions. Songs like “Houston” by Dean Martin, and “Little Arrows” by Leapy Lee, “Surfin’ Hootennany” by Al Casey and the Duane Eddy hits, “Rebel Rouser”, “Movin’ & Groovin”, and “Dance With The Guitar Man”. We’ll never forget Lee’s music – listen for them at: TUNEDEX MEMORIES