Lee Hazlewood: Poet, Fool Or Bum And Back On The Streets Again (CD)
(EMI) 21 tracks 1973/1977
"A poet? No. A fool? l hope not./A bum? No, I'm only me." Which is more than enough for Lee aziewoodis band of followers -"addicts" as he calls them - who 'hunger for rarities like the two albums re-issued here for the first time.
Known from the fifties to the seventies largely for his writing and production skills, Hazlewood's myriad solo albums were pretty much overlooked until the eighties and nineties when the likes of Nick Cave and the Tindersticks hailed him as a maverick influence. His deep-well vocals, sly humour, and shades-of-purple lyrics are quite unique. Thurston Moore once labelled his sound "country exotica."
Hazlewood's reputation was initially built on his Duane Eddy productions in the fifties: I 958's Rebel Rouser, using a grain tank for an echo chamber, had a guitar sound to sink the Bismarck. Phil Spector and John Barry both spent time with Lee in the studio picking up production tips. His earliest songwriting success came with Sanford Clark's booming country-blues The Fool, a US top 10 hit in 1956.
But it was These Boots Are Made For Walking a full ten years later that truly made his name and began a run of million sellers and fabulously exotic records concocted by Lee for Nancy Sinatra. This also kickstarted his solo career, which had been intermittent up to this point - most years in the late sixties and early seventies, there were at least two new Lee Hazlewood albums on the market. It's just that you had to live in Sweden to track most of them down. He was born Barton Lee Hazlewood on the 9th of July 1929 in Mannford, Oklahoma. His father was an oilman and his peripatetic lifestyle rubbed off on his son. "Every year I move so people can't find me" he told journalist Kieron Tyler in 1999. "I like to live places where nobody has heard of me."
Article properties: Lee Hazlewood: Poet, Fool Or Bum And Back On The Streets Again (CD)
Lee Hazelwood, born in 1929 in Mannford, Oklahoma, went to Southern Methodist University before the Army took him to Korea. On his discharge in 1953, he became one of the most popular deejays in Phoenix, Arizona, where he broadcast C&W music locally. In 1955, he branched out into songwriting and began dabbling in record production after experimenting in his radio studio. His production of 'The Fool', by Sanford Clark, sold 800,000 copies on Dot Records in 1956 and Dot subsequently signed him as a record pro-ducer for a year, but he failed to make another hit. In 1957, he teamed up with entrepreneur Lester Sill and they formed the Jamie label in Philadelphia with a distribu-tor and Dick Clark of Bandstand fame.
Through Bandstand, they launched Duane Eddy with the 'twangy' guitar sound which made him a star. In three and a half years, Hazelwood sold 20 million Duane Eddy records which despite their crass commerciality were the earliest 'sound' productions in rock. In 1961, Hazelwood and Sill formed the Gregmark label which scored with Phil Spector-produced records by the Paris Sisters (Sill and Hazelwood had earlier run two less successful labels called Trey and East-West). They parted company in 1962 and Hazelwood formed an unsuccessful label, Eden.
In 1964, he left the business but the following year, Jimmy Bowen at Reprise asked him to produce the bubblegum trio of Dino, Desi and Billy for whom he pro-duced four consecutive hits. He also began recording Nancy Sinatra at Reprise and established her as a potent chart-force with 'These Boots Are Made For Walkin" and re-corded countrified duets, like 'Jackson', with her. In the late Sixties, be ran his own LHI label in Hollywood but lack of success ended the project.
Always something of a bohemian, Hazelwood — now in semi-retirement — commutes between homes in Sweden, Paris and Los Angeles.