Sinatra was the first-born of Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s three
children on 8th June 1940 in Jersey City, New Jersey, USA. By the
end of ‘44 everybody knew her name because of her dad’s song "Nancy"
(With the Laughing Face) which was written by Phil Silvers and Jimmy
Van Heusen in honour of her 4th birthday.
As a "Hollywood Kid" Nancy spent only the first four years in New
Jersey and from 1944 was raised in Los Angeles. Her parents divorced
when she was young and by the time Nancy had graduated from high
school, she had 11 years of piano, 8 years of dance, 5 years of
acting and 5 years of singing training under her belt. Add to this
intensive programme of study something even more vital, her natural,
warm charm, bright wit, razor-sharp mind, and contagious vitality.
After high school Nancy enrolled in college. But, bored with student
life at the University of Southern California she dropped out, much
to the disappointment of her father.
On September 11th
1960, 20-year-old Nancy married pop singer Tommy Sands. Nancy wanted
to pursue a career as a singer and would get her first big break as
a guest in her father’s television special The Frank Sinatra
Timex Special. This much celebrated TV classic from 1960 would
also guest star Elvis Presley upon completion of his National
Service. Frank Sinatra and Presley would sing one another’s hits,
but also included father and daughter dueting on "You Make Me Feel
So Young (Old)," Frank changing the last word to old. Nancy would
also get to display her dancing talent on the show.
After her father launched Reprise Records in 1961, she’d asked him
to let her make her own records. Sinatra arranged it and the
company’s chief executive, Mo Ostin, set Nancy up with producer
Tutti Camarata, who had produced Annette Funicello’s records. Nancy
recorded over a dozen songs, which she would describe as
"bubblegum". The first of these was the single "Cufflinks And A Tie
Clip" backed with "Not Just Your Friend." Nancy’s singles throughout
this early period at Reprise failed to attract any attention in her
home country although she did have moderate success elsewhere,
particularly in Italy, Japan and South Africa.
Meanwhile Nancy was
also appearing in films. Her first were the teen flicks GET YOURSELF
A COLLEGE GIRL in 1964 and FOR THOSE WHO THINK YOUNG
also in ’64. In 1965 she would make an impressive appearance in
MARRIAGE ON THE ROCKS which starred Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin
and Deborah Kerr. Nancy played a role that would come quite
naturally to her as the daughter (Tracy) of Frank’s character (Dan
Edwards). That same year Nancy’s marriage to Tommy Sands was also
coincidentally "on the rocks" and the couple would divorce. "I
married way too young, because I wanted to have sex" she confessed
to Playboy magazine many years later.
With the break-up of her marriage and on the verge of being dropped
by Reprise Records, it was a difficult period for Nancy during 1965.
A new producer Jimmy Bowen was appointed to Nancy and their first
collaboration was a version of Cole Porter’s "True Love." It, too,
was unsuccessful. Nancy desperately needed a hit with some material
that resembled real rock ‘n’ roll, something with some guts and a
punch. Jimmy Bowen knew just the man who would be able to deliver
Nancy the hit that she wanted. Bowen’s next-door neighbour was one
Barton Lee Hazlewood, an Oklahoma-born producer/songwriter. Lee
Hazlewood had earlier written and produced hit records like "The
Fool" in 1956 for Sanford Clark, and "Rebel Rouser," a multi-million
selling hit for guitarist Duane Eddy in 1958. Bowen coached
Hazlewood out of early retirement and hired him to write and produce
for Nancy at Reprise. Arranger/conductor Billy Strange was also
brought in to help Nancy. Strange had been a guitarist on numerous
Hollywood record sessions and had worked as arranger on Hazlewood-produced
sessions for Reprise acts including Duane Eddy and Dino, Desi &
Billy (Dino and Desi were, respectively, the sons of Dean Martin and
first single from this new formed partnership was
"So Long Babe," which according to
Hazlewood was a tender ballad concerning a young
Israeli soldier who is dishonourably discharged from
the Armed Services for putting a Cadillac engine in
his World War II surplus Sherman tank. Originally
called "So Long Abe" it was Nancy who
suggested the title be changed to "So Long
Babe." Although not the big hit they had hoped
for it did reach #86 on the Billboard Top 100 charts
and that was enough to secure Nancy a new contract
with her record label. The following single
"These Boots Are Made For Walkin"
(again penned by Lee Hazlewood) was released in
February 1966, it was a monster hit internationally
and would reach #1 in the US charts. Nancys
image by this stage had been through a dramatic
remake, gone was the innocent teen bubblegum girl
look from the early 60s and replaced with the
new tough, no-nonsense, snarling, hissing sex kitten
that would help make go-go boots a fashion staple.
Although naturally brunette, Nancys hairstyle
would also go through a radical change. Nancys
idols while growing up were Marilyn Monroe and
Brigitte Bardot, "I guess the desire to be
blonde was in me somewhere," she would later
hit records, films and TV appearances followed
throughout 1966. After "Boots" there were
more hit singles (all written by Hazlewood),
"How Does That Grab You Darlin?"
which made #7, "Sugar Town" #5 and the
lesser hits "Fridays Child" #36 and
"In Our Time" reaching #46 in the US. The
hit "Sugar Town" was, according to
Hazlewood, about a lot of hippies in L.A. who were
taking drugs, LSD. The song appeared on Nancys
fourth album entitled Sugar, which
would itself cause controversy due to the risqué
cover shot of Nancy in her bikini and subsequently
led to it being banned in Boston. A role in the Boris
Karloff film GHOST IN THE INVISIBLE BIKINI
showcased Nancy singing the energetic
"Geronimo" and also a part in the James
Bond spoof THE LAST OF THE SECRET AGENTS in
which Nancy also sang the title song written by Lee
Hazlewood. Nancy received second billing in the cult
classic biker movie THE WILD ANGELS from
producer/director Roger Corman. The film starring
Peter Fonda made Nancy, briefly, a top motion picture
box office attraction. Check her out during the
hospital scenes when the gang bust-out Bruce
Derns character Loser, Nancy is a
joy to watch and her performance during these scenes
steal the show. Numerous TV shows guest starred
Nancy, including several appearances on the Ed
Sullivan Show, Hullabaloo, with her dad on Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music part II,
and even a stint on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
complete with pink bikini and wearing her go-go
boots, of course.
1967 was equally a
busy year for Nancy. In March her first duet record with Lee,
"Summer Wine," reached #49, and "Jackson" (the flip-side to "You
Only Live Twice") made #14. Movie producer Albert R. Broccoli, who
was friends with Frank Sinatra, wanted Nancy’s sound for the next
Bond picture, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. "It was one of the
scariest times of my whole life," she said of her experience
recording the song with John Barry. "You Only Live Twice" would be
regarded as the most beautiful of all the Bond songs. The lovely
title song has poetic lyrics by Leslie Bricusse which, along with
Nancy Sinatra’s vocals, add immeasurably to its impact. The same
year Nancy cut a duet record with her father, "Somethin’ Stupid."
The song was an instant smash around the globe and would occupy the
top spot on the US Billboard for four weeks, and to this day is
still the only father and daughter duet to ever top the charts. More
solo success followed with the hits, "Lightning’s Girl," reaching
#24, and "Love Eyes," making it to #15 respectively.
In December of 1967, Nancy’s legendary and pioneering TV special
MOVIN' WITH NANCY was aired. The show, which Nancy also
executive produced, brought her a Golden Globe nomination as Best TV
Star. The one-hour special included many of Nancy’s hit songs of the
time, "Sugar Town," "Some Velvet Morning," "Jackson" and "Friday’s
Child." Featuring Emmy Award-winning direction by Jack Haley, Jr.,
all the songs were shot in scenic California locations. Guest stars
included, Lee Hazlewood, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and a very
close relative. Receiving critical acclaim, the programme remains a
unique part of musical television history, and would help invent the
term "music video" long before the MTV generation was born.
Also in ’67 Nancy performed in front of thousands of troops in
Vietnam. Nancy Sinatra’s response to Vietnam reinforced her antiwar
stand. She entertained the troops, but inside she felt terrified,
inadequate. She had "seen the unthinkable." To this day Nancy
continues to support and help the Vietnam veterans of America.
In 1968 Nancy would
star alongside Elvis Presley in SPEEDWAY, the last of her
major motion picture roles. In that film, she shared a vocal with
Elvis, "There Ain’t Nothing Like A Song," and became the first
singer to have a solo performance on an Elvis album, "Your Groovy
Self," on the soundtrack. The same year saw the release of the
classic album Nancy & Lee, which was released after the Sinatra-Hazlewood
team parted company. It was a greatest hit’s package of all the
duets they recorded. It charted at #13.
Nancy’s US chart run ended with "Drummer Man" and "Here We Go Again"
in 1969. At this point of her career she was being produced by Billy
Strange. Nancy’s final album of the decade was Nancy Twelve Ways.
The Nancy album marked a departure from the "Bad Girl" persona that
she had created with "Boots," and the earlier albums. The album was
Nancy’s most diverse to date with many different styles of music
used very effectively, including, country, blues and rock.
the early 70s Nancys career began to wind
down. She married Hugh Lambert in December of 1970.
Lambert was a former dancer and had worked as a
choreographer on several TV shows including the Ed
Sullivan Show and Rowan & Martins
Laugh-In, both of which featured Nancy as guest.
He also worked with Nancy during her Las Vegas debut
two years earlier. Shortly after cutting one more
duet album with Lee Hazlewood in 1972 for RCA and her
solo album Woman in '73, Nancy virtually
retired from show business, although she did continue
to record a handful of singles for Private Stock
Records in 1975-77. Throughout the rest of the
70s Nancy devoted her time to be a full-time
wife and mother to her two daughters Angela and
Nancy made a brief
return to the spotlight in the early ‘80s. A duet album with Mel
Tillis in 1981 produced a further two more hit singles, "Texas
Cowboy Night" and "Play Me Or Trade Me" both hit the country charts
at #23 and #43 respectively. Nancy followed this up with a tour with
her father in 1982.
During the mid ‘80s there was renewed interest in Nancy Sinatra with
the advent of Compact Disc. Rhino Records released two compilation
albums, The Hit Years in 1986 and Fairytales & Fantasies The Best of
Nancy & Lee in 1989. The albums introduced a whole new legion of
loyal and predominantly younger fans to the music of Nancy Sinatra
and are both highly sought after by collectors today.
the mid 90s Nancy would make her major
full-blown comeback. All her 60s albums would
be re-released on the Sundazed label, including bonus
tracks. A popular Playboy spread in May
95 revealed she still had the looks, and a new
album proved she still had the voice. The album One
More Time was Nancys first solo record for
more than twenty years. In April 95 Nancy would
pull Lee Hazlewood back out of retirement one more
time with a massive tour with shows that would
perform in front of packed-out audiences.
the death of her father in May 1998, Nancy released a
CD single featuring the song "Its For My
Dad." The song was originally a b-side released
on Private Stock Records in 1977. It is possibly the
most beautiful song she has ever recorded. The CD
also included the hit duets with her dad,
"Somethin Stupid" and
"Feelin Kinda Sunday." It was a
touching tribute. Proceeds from the sale of the CD
went to The Frank Sinatra Foundation, a charitable
organisation run by the Sinatra family. Nancy
continues to work hard at preserving her
fathers legacy and launched her familys
official Web site
www.sinatrafamily.com in the late
90s. She writes frequently on the sites
forum where Sinatra fans can join together in
In late 2002, much
to the delight of her fans, Nancy announced plans for a new studio
album and proposed tour with Lee Hazlewood. The new album was
recorded in Nashville in early 2003 with the help of arranger Billy
Strange. It is the first Nancy & Lee album for more than thirty
Simply titled NANCY & LEE 3, the album was released only in
Australia during May 2004 on the Warner Music label.
Although a hit with the fans the CD failed to make any impact
outside of Australia where it charted at #15 in the Country Music
Charts on it's first week of release.
Even though it was very unfortunate that the new Nancy & Lee
collaboration was not as successful as hoped and the proposed tour
with Lee never materialized, 2004 still proved to be a momentous and
successful year for Nancy.
On Sunday June 20th (fathers day) Nancy performed to a sell-out
crowd at The Royal Festival Hall in London as part of the Morrissey
Meltdown Festival. It was Nancy's first ever concert performance in
Nancy introduced four new songs from her forthcoming new solo album
to the set list of the London show, one of which was written by
Morrissey himself ("Let Me Kiss You").
NANCY SINATRA, the highly anticipated new solo album (originally to
be titled, To Nancy With Love) was released by the Sanctuary Records
label world-wide in October 2004.
Highly acclaimed by both fans and critics alike, the album is a
collection of songs penned by writers and singers who have said they
were influenced by Nancy's music over the years including
contributions from Bono & The Edge, Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey to
name but a few.
To promote the new album many TV and Radio appearances followed. In
the UK guest spots included Richard & Judy, Friday Night With
Jonathan Ross and a radio interview with Michael Parkinson.
The Morrissey penned song "Let Me Kiss You" was released as a single
and charted at a very respectable #46 in the UK charts. It was the
first time Nancy had a hit in the UK charts for more than thirty
years since "Did You Ever" (with Lee Hazlewood) charted in 1971.
The follow up single "Burnin' Down The Spark" failed to chart.
Nancy continued to heavily promote her new solo album well into 2005
and in April embarked on a short tour of Europe which began in
Manchester England and continued through Scotland, Holland, France,
Germany, Spain and Portugal.
The final date of the tour would see Nancy and her crew The K.A.B.
(kick ass band) make another welcome return to London England, this
time at the Shepherds Bush Empire, another sell-out performance.
Nancy received a massive boost in popularity and renewed interest in
her music thanks to the release of the smash hit record "Shot You
Down" by the Audio Bullys, a remix of her version of the song "Bang,
Bang" which had most recently been used in Quentin Tarantino's
motion picture 'Kill Bill Vol.1' (2003).
The dynamic duo cut up the vocals and spliced them up with slamming
4/4 beats with added dark tones.
Hugely popular in clubs and on radio "Shot You Down" peaked at No.3
in The Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart in June of 2005. It also
remained at No.1 for an impressive four weeks in the Top 40 Dance
During the end of 2005 Nancy's entire back catalogue became
available to download from the iTunes music store. Albums that were
previously very hard to find or unreleased on CD (Nancy & Lee, Nancy
& Lee Again, Woman) are now readily available to download and burn
(legally) to CD with iTunes.
Nancy promises that more albums and previously unreleased recordings
will be made available to download soon.
2006 marks the 40th anniversary of Nancy's #1 smash hit record "These
Boots Are Made For Walkin'".
And what can be a more fitting and appropriate way to celebrate
Nancy's career achievements and contributions to society than to receive her
long overdue Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. The ceremony
presentation is to be held on 11th May 2006.
And it doesn’t end there. Nancy has more projects and events lined up
for the future.
Watch this space…
Nancy’s boots are still walkin'.
- Lea St Laurent
June 2003 (revised and updated January 2006)