Billy Strange Tells The Story Behind Nancy Sinatra’s Hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”

In this video arranger Billy Strange talks about the recording session and the history behind the Nancy Sinatra hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”.

Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” was number 1 50 years ago. “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” hit number 1 on Billboard’s and Cash Box’s national singles charts on February 26, 1966. Besides Nancy’s great singing it was Billy Strange’s skills as an arranger and co-producer that made this song immortal.

In 2010 I talked to Billy Strange (1930-2012) for at his home in Franklin, TN, about ”Boots“ and he told me how he came up with the famous sliding bass intro played by Chuck Berghofer and why songwriter and producer Lee Hazlewwod didn’t want Nancy to record ”Boots“. You can watch the interview in the video above.

Billboard’s December 25, 1965 “Spotlight Singles” review of “Boots” recognized the hit potential of the song:

Having hit the Hot 100 chart with her ‘So Long Babe,’ Miss Sinatra has top of the chart potential with this fine folk-rock material from the pen of Lee Hazlewood. Her vocal performance and the Billy Strange driving dance beat should move this one rapidly up the chart.

More information about “Boots” on Nancy Sinatra’s website.

Billy Strange had a extraordinaire career as a guitarist, singer, recording artist, arranger, conductor, songwriter, composer and producer. He worked with Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. He also worked as a studio guitarist in Los Angeles in the nineteen fifties and sixties. Here you can find his huge but incomplete discography.

Country-Pop Singer Jeanne Black (1937-2014): The Woman Behind The One Hit Wonder

Country-pop singer Jeanne Black, who had a million-selling hit with “He’ll Have To Stay” in 1960, passed away on October 23, 2014 in Orem, Utah — two days shy of her 77th birthday. According to her son Josh Shipley she was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Jeannie Black was born on October 25, 1937 in Pomona, California.
Her biggest hit “He’ll Have To Stay” was the answer song to Jim Reeves’ “He’ll Have To Go”. It sold over one million copies worldwide. Because she could never repeat this success, she was labeled as “one hit wonder”. But she was more than that. Jeanne Black was a versatile singer with a dramatic talent. She was not only a fine ballad singer, but could also sing western swing, pop, rock ‘n’ roll and even proved that she was able to sing the blues.

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All photos in the slideshow were taken between 1956 and early 1960s. (Courtesy of Billy Strange)

From 1956 until 1959 Jeanne Black was part of Cliffie Stone’s radio and TV show “Hometown Jamboree” that broadcasted live from the Harmony Park Ballroom in Anaheim, California. The show paved the way for many country musicians of the west coast. Among others Tennessee Ernie Ford, Zane Ashton (aka Bill Aken), Speedy West and Molly Bee played on Hometown Jamboree.

In 1960 Jeanne Black signed a record contract with Capitol. She worked very close with guitarist Billy Strange. He not only  accompanied her on stage and in the music studio, but he was also her arranger and music coach and they became lovers. They parted in the early sixties. Billy Strange became a famous studio musician and arranger in Los Angeles. He worked with stars like Elvis Presley, Frank and Nancy Sinatra and Nat King Cole. He was also a successful song writer and music publisher. After breaking up with Billy Strange, Jeanne Black married Mark Shipley. Together the rose six children and ran community theatres in California and Utah. In 1999 she finally married her early love Billy Strange. They lived together in Franklin, TN until he died in 2012.

In the video Jeanne Black talks about how she and her youngest sister Janie auditioned for Cliffie Stone in 1956 and how she became a singer and recording artist. And while browsing through old issues of country music magazine “Country Song Roundup”, she and Billy share memories and remember the first time they saw Elvis Presley on TV.

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Black Songs Covered By The Rolling Stones

Black Artists Covered by Rolling Stones

This Spotify playlist presents some of the essential songs performed or written by black artists that were covered by the Rolling Stones.

The original songs are presented back to back with the Stone’s covers.

Needless to say that the Stones learned a lot from these songs and built a 50 year career on them.

If you want to dig deeper into songs covered by the Stones, I recommend Gerard Slinkert’s project Undercover. He presents 83 original songs and compares them with the Stone’s version. You can listen to both the originals and the covers.

A Room Full Of Guitar Legends


I stumbled upon a great article by Jas Obrecht about the history of guitar in the music studios of Los Angeles. In 1980 Obrecht had the unique opportunity to interview guitar legends such as George M. Smith, Al Hendrickson, Bob BainMitch Holder, Tim May and Tommy Tedesco.

Weshalb man wissen sollte, dass Alvin Stardust früher Shane Fenton war – und was George Martin und die Beatles damit zu tun haben

Shane Fenton mit The Fentones

Shane Fenton mit seiner Begleitband The Fentones

Schon möglich, dass einem keine bewundernden Blick zufliegen, wenn man mal in einer Runde nebenbei einwirft, dass Alvin Stardust früher den Künstlernamen Shane Fenton trug und richtig Bernard William Jewry heisst. Wer jedoch ein wenig an der Geschichte der britischen Popmusik interessiert ist, sollte sich kurz mit Shane Fenton beschäftigen.

Shane Fenton spielte am Anfang der 60er-Jahre ein paar Songs für EMI Parlophone ein unter der Leitung des Beatles-Produzenten George Martin. Einige der Songs entstanden in den Abbey Road Studios. Die Musik von Shane Fenton und seiner Begleitband The Fentones war hauptsächlich rückwärts gerichtet, Richtung 50er-Jahre. Eine Mischung aus Rock ‘n’ Roll, Pop-Balladen und Rockabilly mit deutlichen Einflüssen von Buddy Holly und Eddie Cochran.

Nicht so originell wie die Beatles

Vom Stil und Repertoire her ist Shane Fenton mit Cliff Richard vergleichbar. Die Parallelen sind unüberhörbar, denn Fentons Begleitband The Fentones orientierten sich an Richards Begleitband The Shadows. Heraus sticht It’s All Over Now (1962) [Audio-Link], das mit einem einem starken Gitarrenriff fesselt und bis auf den Refrain moderner und rockiger klingt als das restliche Material. Es ist unschwer herauszuhören, dass die Fenton-Songs gleich produziert und aufgenommen wurden wie die frühen Beatles-Songs.

Hörenswert sind die Songs, da sie für eine Übergangsära stehen. Es war die Zeit, als die Beatles und Rolling Stones noch auf ihren Durchbruch warteten. Bald sollten sich die britischen Musiker von ihren US-amerikanischen Vorbildern emanzipieren. Die Musik von Fenton schwankt zwischen blossem Kopieren amerikanischer Vorbilder und eigenwilligeren, britischen Ansätzen, die dann von den Beatles origineller umgesetzt wurden.

Shane Fenton verschwand nach 1964 hinter die Kulissen des Musikgeschäfts. Er tauchte Anfang der 70er-Jahre als Alvin Stardust wieder auf und hatte einige Hits als Glam-Rocker. Die Songs von Shane Fenton und The Fentones sind auf iTunes erhältlich.

Shane Fenton singt «Somebody Else Not Me» im Film It’s All Happenning (1963).