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.

Bill Withers Talks About The Decline Of The Music Industry

Publicity photo of Bill Withers (1976, Columbia Records).

Publicity photo of Bill Withers (1976, Columbia Records).


 “I grew up in the age of Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson,” he says, still musing on the Grammys. “It was a time where a fat, ugly broad that could sing had value. Now everything is about image. It’s not poetry. This just isn’t my time.”

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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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Spotify Playlist From Richard Linklater Movie “Boyhood” Including Wilco, Arcade Fire, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Hives, And The Flaming Lips

Ellar Coltrane in "Boyhood".

Ellar Coltrane in “Boyhood”.

“Boyhood” by Richard Linklater is a wonderful quiet story. It’s like a Eric Rohmer movie but more down to earth and more fun to watch. The songs are neatly woven into the story and help define the characters and the time.

From the very beginning the filmmakers make it clear that they understand their business. They start the title sequence with “Yellow” by Coldplay and set the thoughtful mood for the entire movie.

In this Spotify playlist most of the songs from the movie are included. It was inspired by Indiewire. Enjoy.


Back to back: Nancy Sinatra sings Lee Hazlewood songs

Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood on cover of Reprise LP “Nancy & Lee” (1968)

Beauty and mustache: Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood on cover of Reprise LP “Nancy & Lee” (1968)

He wrote “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”, produced several of Nancy Sinatra’s records and was her duet partner. «Some Velvet Morning», «Summer Wine» and «Sand» became immortal gems of popular music. The pairing of Hazlewood’s and  Sinatra’s voices and the headstrong Hazlewood lyrics still intrigue listeners today.

But let’s turn the spotlight to some lesser known songs by Lee Hazlewood that were sung by Nancy Sinatra. On this playlists Nancy’s versions are played back to back with Lee’s. His most famous song “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” is also included.

After Nancy had a huge hit with this song, Lee recorded his own very funny version which comments about how he and arranger Billy Strange recorded Nancy’s Hit.

Lee was not only an adept songwriter, he was also a clever businessman. He sold his songs to as many artists as possible and also recorded them himself. In many cases he also produced the songs that he had written. Sometimes Lee recorded his version before Nancy’s, sometimes it was the other way around.

All songs on the playlist are arranged and co-produced by Billy Strange, who worked both with Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. He’s responsible for the unique sound, an astonishing mixture of sophisticated pop music and easy listening. And on all songs Eddie Brackett was responsible for the sound engineering.

Lee used the same group of Los Angeles studio musicians for his own and Nancy’s version. That includes drummers like Jim Gordon and Hal Blaine, keyboard player Don Randi, electric bass player Carol Kaye, acoustic bass player Chuck Berghofer, Al Casey or Billy Strange on guitar and countless others.

These boots are made for walkin'
 1966: Lee Hazlewood. LP "The very special world of Lee Hazlewood" (MGM)
 1966: Nancy Sinatra. LP "Boots" (Reprise)
 1968: Lee Hazlewood. LP  "Something special" (MGM)
 1968: Nancy Sinatra. LP "Nancy in London" (Reprise)
So long, babe
 1966: Lee Hazlewood. LP "The very special world of Lee Hazlewood" (MGM)
 1966: Nancy Sinatra.  LP "Boots" (Reprise)
My Baby Cried All Night long
 1966: Lee Hazlewood. LP "The very special world of Lee Hazlewood" (MGM)
 1966: Nancy Sinatra. LP "How does that grab you?" (Reprise)
Not the loving kind
 1966: Lee Hazlewood. LP "The very special world of Lee Hazlewood" (MGM)
 1966: Nancy Sinatra. LP "How does that grab you?" (Reprise)
I Move Around
 1966: Lee Hazlewood. LP "The very special world of Lee Hazlewood" (MGM)
 1966: Nancy Sinatra.  LP "Boots" (Reprise)