Part 2 of my mini-video-documentary is now online: Billy Strange – Hit Maker.
Today Billy Strange celebrates his 80th birthday in Nashville, TN. Here’s a video interview with Billy Strange I did. He talks about working with The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, Phil Spector and Nancy Sinatra.
Billy Strange helped the Beach Boys, Elvis, Frank and Nancy Sinatra and many others to make hits.
He was a number one studio guitarist in the music studios of Hollywood in the 1950s and 1960s. You can hear his guitar on songs like “Surfin’ U.S.A.”, “Sloop John B.” and countless other Beach Boys and surf songs. He’s also famous for playing the haunting guitar on “Bang Bang”, the song that was used by Quentin Tarantino in “Kill Bill”. His arranging skills made songs like “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”, “Some Velvet Morning” and “Something Stupid” immortal.
On the Bob Wills Webpage you can buy a previously unreleased interview with Western Swing legend Bob Wills, recorded in Fresno, California, circa 1949. According to http://www.bobwills.com the 36 minute file (available as download or on CD) is the earliest known conversational recording of Bob Wills.
Listen to a sample: Outtake Bob Wills Interview
Still today, many Monkee fans are disappointed about the fact, that the Monkees didn’t record their music. The Monkees records were made by a group of very versatile studio musicians.
The documentary The Wrecking Crew pays tribute to these great musicians in the background who were responsible for so many classic recordings of the nineteen-sixties.
Director Denny Tedesco, son of the late guitar legend Tommy Tedesco, interviewed Micky Dolenz of The Monkees for the documentary. And Dolenz says it straight forward:
“The Monkees was not a group”.
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.)