Biography

NANCY SINATRA

Nancy Sandra 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 Desi Arnez).

The 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. Nancy’s 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, Nancy’s hairstyle would also go through a radical change. Nancy’s idols while growing up were Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot, "I guess the desire to be blonde was in me somewhere," she would later say.

More 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 "Friday’s 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 Nancy’s 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 Dern’s character ‘Loser’, Nancy is a joy to watch and her performance during these scenes steal the show. Numerous TV show’s 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.

During the early ‘70s Nancy’s 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 & Martin’s 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 Amanda.

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.

In 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 Nancy’s 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.

After the death of her father in May 1998, Nancy released a CD single featuring the song "It’s 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 father’s legacy and launched her family’s official Web site www.sinatrafamily.com in the late ‘90s. She writes frequently on the site’s forum where Sinatra fans can join together in discussions.

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 years.
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 London.
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 Singles chart.

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)

 

 

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