LEE HAZELWOOD 1929-2007
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...