Singer-songwriter Lee Hazlewood, best known for writing and producing “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” for Nancy Sinatra, died of complications from kidney cancer Aug. 4 at his home in Henderson, Nev., just outside of Las Vegas. He was 78.
Besides “Boots,” he worked with Frank Sinatra’s daughter writing and producing such hits as “Sugartown” and “Some Velvet Morning” and also produced “Something Stupid,” a duet Nancy recorded with her father in 1967.
He also produced for Duane Eddy and Gram Parsons, and performed on a number of solo albums and with Nancy Sinatra in three “Nancy & Lee” albums.
Sinatra told the L.A. Times: “He hasn’t gotten the recognition he should. He’s one of the most influential songwriter-producers ever, and he deserves proper attention from his peers. They dismissed him and they dismissed our records as novelty, but … a lot of other songs that were recorded at that time haven’t survived, and Lee’s songs have survived over decades. To me that’s the real test.”
Hazlewood was diagnosed with renal cancer in 2005 and released his final album, “Cake or Death” in 2006.
Born Barton Lee Hazlewood in Mannford, Okla., he grew up in Port Neches, Texas, where he picked up a love for music and lyrics. Later he studied medicine at Southern Methodist U., was drafted by the Army and served in Korea.
After his discharge, he moved to Phoenix, where he worked as a songwriter and producer, scoring a hit for 1956’s Sanford Clark recording of his song “The Fool.” More hits came with local guitarist Duane Eddy’s instrumentals “Rebel Rouser” and “Forty Miles of Bad Road.”
Moving to Los Angeles in the early 1960s, he ended up at Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label to produce for Dino, Desi & Billy, the rock band that included the sons of Dean Martin, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball.
With Nancy Sinatra, they made “So Long Babe” in 1965, followed by “Boots” the next year.
He was survived by his third wife, Jeane Kelley; a son; two daughters; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.