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.