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.

Photographer And LP Cover Designer William Claxton Made West Coast Jazz Look Good

Jazz Photographer William Claxton

William Claxton (1927 – 2008) made the West Coast jazz scene of the 1950ies and early sixties look good. His photos were used for countless LP covers and he was sometimes also responsible for the cover design. Most of his pictures for LP covers are very colorful and have a California touch: sun, sea, desert and fun. Back then most jazz photography was caught in clichés – harsh flashlights, sweat, and strong contrasts were dominant. Claxton gave jazz photography a fresh perspective. Read the New York Times obituary for more information about William Claxton.

Photo-Audio Mashup (audio tribute from NPR)

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Billy Strange’s Fuzz Guitar Spices Up Ann-Margret Ballad

Singer Ann-Margret

Ann-Margret (Photo: unknown)

Guitarist Billy Strange

Billy Strange (Photo: The "Official" Billy Strange Fan Group on Facebook)

Recently I discovered a great fuzz guitar example on Westex’ blog Diggin’ It!!! performed by studio guitarist legend Billy Strange. He played a catchy fuzz guitar intro on Ann-Margret’s country-pop ballad I Just Don’t Understand from 1961 and added some more fuzz later in the song on the chorus and in the solo part.

Billy Strange is notorious for his fuzz guitar. In 1962 he played a driving fuzz guitar solo on the Phil Spector production “Zip-A-Dee-Doo Dah” by Bobb B. Sox and the Blue Jeans. To get the fuzz sound he used a very simple but effective method that he  explains in Tales Of Broken Guitar Amps.

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The Motels Perform Live At German TV Show Musikladen in 1979

The Motels are a classic New Wave band from Los Angeles that started in 1975. They had various line up changes around charismatic singer and guitarist Martha Davis.

On October 18, 1979 the German TV show Musikladen (public broadcaster ARD) broadcast a live performance of The Motels. Below you find six songs from the album Motels (1979) taped for Musikladen.

Find out more about The Motels at The Motels Information Site. It’s also worth to pay a visit to the Revenge of the 80s Radio Podcast that features an extensive interview with Martha Davis.

Celia

Source: www.mybeatclub.com

Dressing Up

Source: www.mybeatclub.com

Closets & Bullets

Source: www.mybeatclub.com

Anticipating

Source: www.mybeatclub.com

Total Control

Source: www.mybeatclub.com

Kix

Source: www.mybeatclub.com

Rene Hall: Influential But Forgotten Guitarist And Arranger Of Rock ‘n’Roll And Rhythm And Blues

Rene Hall is one of the most important founders of rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues.

If you don’t know his name, don’t worry. Unfortunately his name is only known to a few insiders. Although it’s him who’s  playing that raunchy guitar on Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba” and who wrote the arrangement for Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”.

TheHoundDog published a wonderful article with Rene Hall that gives some insight into his great achievements. Be sure to read it and learn more about a very important musician.

“Lydia Purple” by Canadian Group “The Collectors” – History Of A Psychedelic Song From The Sixties

The year was 1968. The Canadian rock band The Collectors decided to record a hit single in a former meat packing plant in Los Angeles. The psychedelic song Lydia Purple was the result.  Glenn Miller, who played electric bass and sang background vocals for The Collectors, shares his memories with Lost & Sound.

Lydia Purple was a blatant attempt at getting an AM radio hit”, admits Glenn Miller. That may explain why the song sounds like a super group consisting of The Beatles, The Bee Gees, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and The Mamas & Papas. But compared to British productions of that era, The Collectors sounded much better. Not only, because they were more accomplished musicians than your average rock musician.

Producer David Hassinger also contributed to the polished sound: “Hassinger and his head engineer Richie Podler had a lot to do with the sound on that album. Hassinger used his trademark ‘tape delayed echo’ technique  on it. I believe that album was recorded on an 8 track tape machine, a Scully, I think. The monitor speakers were modified Altec studio monitors and the playback amps were McIntosh tube amps.”

Lydia Purple was recorded at American Sound in North Hollywood. “Great little studio”, says Miller, “used to be an old cold storage meat packing plant. The walls were over a foot thick and filled with sawdust for insulation. The Greatful Dead recorded their first album there with Hassinger producing.”

While most pop and rock musicians of the sixties didn’t play their instruments on records (this was the task of professional studio musicians), The Collectors played their instruments themselves.

“We all played on that session”, Glenn Miller remembers. “I played a fretless Fender Precision bass , Ross Turney on drums, Bill Henderson on guitar and recorder, Claire Lawrence on sax and recorder and Howie Vickers on lead vocal. Bill, Claire and myself sang background harmonies.”

“We hired a string arranger and brought in some studio players who played in the symphony for the string overdubs. They did a lot of that work – three guys and a girl. They called themselves ‘The Hollywood String Quartet’. And we had Los Angeles studio musician Larry Knechtel who played piano and electric harpsichord.”

Unusual for a pop song are the dynamics of  Lydia Purple. “We didn’t use much compression on any of the tracks. Bass was recorded with a mic in front of the amp. Same with guitars. The drums were Ross Turney’s personal set of Ludwigs”, explains Miller.

Lydia Purple was released as a single in both the USA and Canada. The song is on the first Collectors album, titled simply The Collectors. “It made the Billboard charts but not very high”, Miller says. “It was a regional hit in a number of cities in the USA. And a big hit in Canada.  It’s the most different sounding song of any we recorded then and was where we started to develop our vocal harmony sound, which was pretty hip for the time.”

The Collectors (1968): Claire Lawrence, Glenn Miller, Bill Henderson, Howie Vickers, Ross Turney

The Collectors (1968): Claire Lawrence, Glenn Miller, Bill Henderson, Howie Vickers, Ross Turney

In 1970 The Collectors changed their name to Chilliwack. Under this name they had a long and successful career with different line ups until the nineteen-eighties. Canadianbands gives you more details about the history of Chilliwack.

This article is based on an email-interview with Glenn Miller.

More about The Collectors

Brain Wilson: A Creative Mind At Work

The Behind The Sounds series on YouTube presents informative clips that illustrate the creative process behind the recording of Beach Boys songs. By editing together audio of the session, pictures and text it gives you an idea about how Brian Wilson worked together with the studio musicians and the Beach Boys.