Sheila, Dalida And Mina: Bang Bang European Style

14. September, 2008

You could spend your whole life listening to cover versions of Cher’s song “Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” on YouTube – or at least one evening. Over the years Cher’s original was overtaken by Nancy Sinatra’s version with the haunting guitar played by Billy Strange, which made the song immortal. Besides Nancy Sinatra’s version of “Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” and countless other versions, there were also many covers sung in foreign languages.

From all the non-English versions I stumbled upon, I’ve chosen three sung by European singers, who share several things: they all have pseudonyms ending on the same letter, sing in several languages, acted in movies and had very successful and long careers. I’m speaking of Sheila, Dalida and Mina.

Dalida’s and Mina’s versions are sung in Italian, Sheila’s in French. The videos were probably shot for TV shows, they’re all playbacks. Sheila’s and Dalida’s videos interestingly use the same footage of a girl and a boy who has a toy gun. Listen in Mina’s video to how different her voice sounds when she sings “bang, bang”, there’s much more reverb. And here’s the question of the day: How many guitar players can you count in Mina’s version? Have fun.

Sheila (1966)

French singer Sheila was born in 1945. Her real name is Annie Chancel. She was very popular in France and many other European countries during the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies. Her popularity was so huge, that her name was used for a chain of clothing shops and for beauty products. She sang in several languages and was successful all over Europe. In the late seventies she became a disco star. Her disco hit “Spacer” was produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the US funk group Chic. Sheila is still performing and recording.

Dalida (1966)

Dalida (1933-1987), real name Yolanda Christina Gigliotti, was a French singer of Italian ancestry who grew up in Egypt. She sang not only in French but also in Arabian, Italian, German and English. She started her career in 1956 at a singing contest in Paris, where she was discovered. From her first record release on she had an endless string of hit records in different styles of music all over the World. Her success in the music business was overshadowed by many private tragedies. She killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.

Mina (1967)

Mina, born in 1940, real name Anna Maria Mazzini, is an Italian singer. She sings in French, Spanish, Turkish, German and Japanese. She was discovered at a singing contest in 1958. During the nineteen-sixties and nineteen-seventies she was very successful in Italy and other European countries. Her regular performances on Italian television very much added to her huge success. In 1978 she stopped performing live, but kept on recording.


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

6. June, 2008
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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‘Variety’ Gives Music Docu ‘The Wrecking Crew’ Thumbs Up

1. May, 2008

Logo of Documentary \

There’s a positive review of the music documentary The Wrecking Crew on the Variety website. The documentary features some of the Los Angeles studio musicians who recorded many of the hits of the nineteen-sixties.

The film features legendary musicians such as Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Tommy Tedesco, Earl Palmer, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and stars like Nancy Sinatra, Cher, Brian Wilson and Glen Campbell.


The ‘Wrecking Crew’ Movie – Documentary About L.A. Studio Musicians Of The Sixties

31. January, 2008
Carol Kaye And Tommy Tedesco

Denny Tedesco, son of the late studio guitar master Tommy Tedesco, made a movie called The Wrecking Crew about the great studio musicians of the sixties who worked in the Los Angeles music studios.

It features studio legends Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, Hal Blaine, Don Randi and many more. Stars like Cher, Nancy Sinatra, and Micky Dolenz (the Monkees) are featured, too.

The documentary will be shown in March at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival and at the SXSW in Austin, Texas. In April it will be shown at the Nashville Film Festival. You can find further information on the Wrecking Crew Movie Homepage.

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