Monday, August 6, 2007

In Loving Memory of Lee Hazelwood


Lee Hazelwood has passed away in Las Vegas at the age of 78. He is survived by his third wife, Jeane, his son Mark and daughters Debbie and Samantha. He had expressed his wish to be cremated, and to have his ashes strewn on a Swedish island where he composed some of his favorite songs. He had also chosen his epitaph: "Didn't he ramble," referring to his loner-drifter nature.



"Some Velvet Morning"

Lee's duets with Nancy Sinatra were a staple on my old radio shows on WMUA and WRSI in the late '80s and early '90s. Safe at Home, the LP he produced for Gram Parsons and the International Submarine Band in 1967, is a staple of my current show, Florida Rocks Again!

Lee was an uncanny producer and genius songwriter working for Reprise Records when he scored a hit for Nancy Sinatra with "Boots." 1967's Lee & Nancy album followed, with its mind-bending imagery, psychedelic production, and deft blending of Nancy's kittenish vocalizations with Hazelwood's nicotene baritone.

The man was a genius.

He could also be a prick. He sued to prevent Gram Parsons's lead vocals from being heard on the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, showing that he was not a man to be messed with. To Gram, a contract was just a piece of paper, but to Lee, it was a binding legal document.

Lee won, and we all lost.

Having run an independent record label for many years, I can dig where Lee was coming from. But I'm also someone who has been on the other side of a bad contract, then has had to deal with the consequences.

So I can understand Gram's position.

Rest in Peace, Lee. Gram'll be there to meet ya...

1 comment:

Jeffers66 said...

One of my favorite trivia questions is to ask people to name the only double-sided HIT of the 60s where BOTH SIDES were about drugs.

Their minds start thinking of the usual suspects, but the answer isn't some San Francisco flower child or Woodstock veteran.

NANCY SINATRA? What do you mean Nancy Sinatra?

On one side, she goes to Sugar Town... hmm, what was it they put in sugar cubes?... where she lays in the grass and her troubles all pass, while not even feeling the rain that's falling on her. Then on the flip, she slips ol' Lee some Summer Wine, knocking him old cold, then robbing him blind and leaving him craving more.


Jeff Lemlich