Nancy Sinatra - Biography
By Nick Castro
Nancy Sinatra has become one of the most famous and enduring singers to emerge from the 1960's. As the daughter of Frank Sinatra, she grew up surrounded by people in the music business. She is probably most famous for her signature song, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", which was written for her by Lee Hazelwood, as many of her songs were. She is also known for her work, singing the theme song to the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice, and for the song she recorded with her father, "Somethin' Stupid".
Sinatra, born in 1940, had a song written for her fourth birthday, by the famous songwriter Jimmy Van Huesen and comedian Phil Silvers. They wrote the song, "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)", which her father recorded and had a top ten hit with. The song subsequently became a staple in Frank Sinatra's live set. Nancy Sinatra was landing roles in films while still a in her early 20's. When she was 20 years old, she married singer Tommy Sands and signed to her father's record label to record a song, which did not attain much success in the US, but sold well in Europe. It was shortly after this time that she also appeared in films such as Get Yourself a College Girl and For Those Who Think Young.
The next year, 1965, Sinatra divorced from Sands and was preparing to make a maneuver in her career that would bring her first major success in the US. She recorded and released the album Boots (1966 -Reprise), with arranger Billy Strange, who wrote songs for Elvis Presley and played guitar with artists as diverse as The Ventures, Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys and Willie Nelson. Many consider this debut album to be among her finest, though it has also been criticized as commercial or pedestrian. Firstly she scored a huge hit with the song, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'", and she was sweeping the country with her new persona of the sexy strong women. The album, with the assistance of Los Angeles' Wrecking Crew, Sinatra made good use of the songs of the day, such as "As Tears Go By", "It Ain't Me Babe" and "Day Tripper". It was Lee Hazelwood that would write the album's two finest moments though, when he wrote "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and "So Long, Babe".
Sinatra found, what would prove to be, a longtime musical partner, in Lee Hazelwood. They continued their relationship on Sinatra's second album, How Does That Grab You? (1966 - Reprise). She scored a big hit with the title song. Hazelwood contributed a number of songs on the album, including "Not the Lovin' Kind", "Sand", "My Baby Cried All Night Long" and the title song. On the song, "Sand", Hazelwood joins Sinatra in the vocal duties, leading to a popular duet style, the two would later utilize again. She followed up with the album, Nancy in London (1966 - Reprise), which once again finds Hazelwood and Sinatra singing another duet, "Summer Wine", penned by Hazelwood. For her next album, Country, My Way (1967 - Reprise) Sinatra was bewitched by the country influence Hazelwood brought to the table. This time, Hazelwood and Sinatra duet on the song, "Jackson", which Johnny Cash and June Carter had previously had a hit with. Producer, Bob Irwin, along with Hazelwood, used top notch players on the session, including guitarist Strange, who had previously worked with Sinatra, as well as Buck Trent on piano and Chip Young on guitar.
Although famous for its saucy cover, Sugar (1967 - Reprise), was largely considered a disappointment for its unoriginal choice of material, mainly comprised of standards, such as "What'll I Do?" and "All by Myself", by Irving Berlin, and the classic, "Sweet Georgia Brown". She followed with the album Movin' with Nancy (1968 - Reprise), which was comprised of songs from her television show, including her big hits, "Jackson" and "Some Velvet Morning", both which she penned with Hazelwood. The song was also featured on their next record, which was also the first featuring Hazelwood and Sinatra as a duo, Nancy & Lee (1968 - Reprise). Other notable tracks on the album include "Summer Wine", "Lady Bird" and "I've Been Down for So Long (It Looks Like Up to Me". Hazelwood also handled the production on this album.
During this time, in the late 60's, Sinatra was getting roles in sampy films, such as The Wild Angels, with actors Peter Fonda and Bruce Dern, and Speedway, which placed Sinatra alongside Elvis Presley on the big screen. Her television show was a success, and this garnered her accolades and further spots on other shows, such as The Dean Martin show.
In 1969, Sinatra released her last proper album for her father's label when she released Nancy (1969 - Reprise). This album saw her mainly doing popular covers at the time, a move which quickly gained her more of the criticism she had already been enduring. She does manage to do an interesting version of the Doors' classic, "Light My Fire". Soon, Sinatra released the album Woman (1970 - RCA). This album finds Sinatra amidst the light country pop, which was gaining popularity at the time of its release. Some of the most convincing songs on the record are "Kind of a Woman" and "The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.". This time, the production was handled by Jimmy Bowen, who worked as a staff producer at Reprise, and has worked with artists such as Hank Williams, George Strait and Garth Brooks.
Sinatra remarried, in 1970, to Hugh Lambert, who was a television producer. She remained mainly out of the eye of the public until her return to the stage, in the 90's, and then with Hazelwood once again, in 2004. Together they released the album Nancy & Lee 3 (2004 - WEA). The album features many younger musicians, such as Pete Yorn, Morrisey, Bono of U2 and Jarvis Cocker. She followed up with the album Nancy Sinatra (2004 - Sanctuary), which once again put her in the company of many younger musicians, in an attempt to update her sound. She even performs material written by Morrisey, Cocker and Townes VanZandt.