Guitarist Billy Strange Talks About Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’


Nancy Sinatra, Billy Strange

Nancy Sinatra and Billy Strange

Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” is a masterpiece of minimalism. Just a voice telling a dark love story and a haunting guitar.

The man who played the haunting guitar is Billy Strange, a veteran studio guitar player, singer, arranger, composer and producer. He was so kind to talk with me about the birth of this enthralling song.

Lost & Sound: Did you arrange the song?
Billy Strange:
There was no arrangement. I just played what I thought was appropriate and Nancy liked the way it was sounding, so we recorded it.

L&S: Why did you decide to record it with just one guitar?
BS: It was just as if the song called for it. More than one instrument would have been too many.

L&S: What kind of sound effect did you use on the guitar?
BS: I used a tremolo effect. There is a small box that creates it, made by Vox, I believe.

L&S: Do you remember which amp and guitar you used?
BS:
The amp was my old Fender Twin and the guitar was the Gibson 335 that Nancy gave me

L&S: Where did you record it?
BS: It was recorded at either United Recorders or Western Recorders in Hollywood. The engineer was Eddie Brackett.

L&S: Did you and Nancy record live together or did you lay down the guitar first?
BS: We recorded it live with no overdubbing at all.

‘Bang Bang’ took a long time to make some noise
Nancy Sinatra’s version of the Sonny Bono written “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” was a sleeper. When it came out in 1966 on the LP “How Does That Grab You?” it didn’t make a big impact. Cher’s original version was a big hit, though. This changed dramatically over the years. Nancy Sinatra’s take on the song is better known today. The song had a late breakthrough in 2005 when it was used for the soundtrack of the Quentin Tarantino movie “Kill Bill”.

L&S: Do you have any special memories regarding the recording session?
BS: I recall that Nancy and I were both very pleased with the way it turned out. I think it was done in one take.

L&S: How do you feel about the fact, that the song became popular again thanks to the “Kill Bill” soundtrack?
BS: It was very gratifying that it was felt to be “the” song for the movie main title.

L&S: How would you interpret the lyrics?
BS: It is simply a very sad love song about lost love, as I see it.

(This interview is based on an email conversation.)

Billy Strange, Jeanne Black

Billy Strange with his wife, singer Jeanne Black

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4 thoughts on “Guitarist Billy Strange Talks About Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’

  1. Yes, indeed, Nancy’s version IS far superior. I’ve enjoyed and preferred it since it was first released on her “How Does That Grab You, Darlin?” album.

  2. SOOOOO much of what Billy Strange has recored, produced, and arranged thru the years should get another moment in the bright shining light of day! Seventy-five years and old and still going strong. And his music is, even today, being discovered, as it were, for the first time! Note to young hot-shots up and coming in the music industry; learn a lesson or two from Billy, work another twenty years at your craft… then come back and show us your stuff. A few of you might, then, measure up to the excellence that is Billy Strange!

  3. Pingback: [Sammelthread] Welcher Effekt ist das? - Seite 101

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