Okay, so it’s 2012–almost the end of 2012–and can you believe there are actually people out there who believe that Nancy Sinatra had only one hit?
Yes, we’ll concede that “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’” is one of the most iconic hit records of the 1960s—if the word “iconic” can be used to describe a hit record. But iconic can certainly be used to describe Nancy Sinatra, whose iconic stature is hardly limited to her admittedly most iconic hit record.
But please. There were others! Many others, in fact.
For the record, Nancy Sinatra charted 23 hits: four in the Top 10, 10 in the Top 40. She hit the top in 1966 with “Boots” and again in 1967 with “Somethin’ Stupid”—her classic duet with father Frank. And she sang the greatest James Bond movie song ever in the John Barry/Leslie Bricusse masterpiece “You Only Live Twice,” and yes, we’ve heard Adele’s “Skyfall”: Sure it’s good, but it’s no “You Only Live Twice”—and Adele’s no Nancy Sinatra.
Let’s not forget, either, that Nancy was one of the great ‘60s fashion icons, too, thanks to those go-go boots, of course, not to mention her big hair and mini-skirts, major movie roles opposite fellow legends including Elvis Presley (Speedway) and Peter Fonda (The Wild Angels), and television appearances alone and with everyone from her dad and his Rat Pack pals (her controversial kiss with Sammy Davis, Jr. on her 1967 special Movin’ With Nancy was one of the first interracial kisses seen on TV) to Ed Sullivan, the Smothers Brothers and Rowan & Martin–plus acting roles in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Virginian.
But back to her music: Nancy Sinatra was half of one of the great songwriter-performer teams ever. Think Bacharach-David and Dionne Warwick, Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell, and Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra—for it was Lee Hazlewood who wrote and produced so many of Nancy’s solo hits (also including “How Does That Grab Ya, Darlin'” and “Sugar Town”), and duetted with her on others including “Summer Wine,” “Jackson” and the fabulous “Some Velvet Morning.”
And lest we forget, the musicians she and Lee used were the cream of the Los Angeles crop—the fabled “Wrecking Crew” of session musicians who played for the likes of Phil Spector and the Beach Boys, to be exact. She also worked with the greatest producers and arrangers of the time, in addition to Hazlewood: Don Costa, Bones Howe, Snuff Garrett, Charles Calello, Jimmy Bowen, Billy Strange. And her most recent bands have starred drum heroes Pete Thomas and Clem Burke and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke.
And speaking of contemporary rockers, we can’t neglect mention of the Bottle Rockets’ fab “Nancy Sinatra” tribute tune, the lead track from their 1999 album Brand New Day.
So why on earth has it taken this long to induct Nancy Sinatra into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantheon (not to be confused with The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame)?
The problem was, we couldn’t find anyone big enough to induct her! We did try Madonna who’s been quoted as saying “Nancy Sinatra was a huge influence on me. I wanted to put on my go-go boots and walk all over someone,” and also, “My two oldest fantasies: One was to be Nancy Sinatra, the other was to be a nun. I used to sing ‘These Boots Are Made For Walkin’’ in front of the mirror, in my uniform skirt.”
But Madge didn’t return our call. So we tried another huge fan in Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, since she appeared on Nancy’s 2004 album Nancy Sinatra, which featured Gordon’s band mate Thurston Moore along with the likes of Bono and The Edge, Steven Van Zandt, Jon Spencer and Pete Yorn—all avowed Nancy fans and followers—but no luck reaching her, either.
And since Nancy Sinatra featured “Let Me Kiss You,” a duet with its co-writer and her pal Morrissey that became a hit in the U.K., we would have contacted Morrissey—but we didn’t know who to call!
But not wishing to prolong this travesty any longer, we went with “Plan B.” In the wings now is one Nan Fan who desperately wants to induct her, and folks, he is a music business veteran in his own right! He has been covering all aspects of the entertainment scene for over 30 years, and is one of the most well-known and respected journalists in the field, it says in his bio. And he writes regularly at quadrust.com!
Yes! It’s none other than Jim Bessman. Come on up, Jim!
Come on people, Jim Bessman! Let’s hear it! You know, Billboard‘s Jim Bessman. He was there for 25 years, for Chrissake! It says so in his bio!
“Um, I think I rounded it to the nearest five years.”
You’re an Honorary Citizen of Eunice, Louisiana? A Tennesse Squire…
“Yes. I do drink a lot of Jack Daniels, and I go to a Cajun pig roast every year in Eunice, the Louisiana Cajun Prairie Capital—and I’m a vegetarian.”
…sanctioned judge for the World Kickboxing Association….
“Uh, that was a long time ago. I should really take that out. But about Nancy Sinatra….”
…and you wrote the liner notes to both Grand Funk Railroad’s Thirty Years Of Funk: 1969-1999 and Itzhak Perlman’s Eternal Echoes: Songs & Dances For The Soul with Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfot?
“Yeah. They’re really different.”
Well, your bio sure runs on and on. But it is getting late and people have to get up tomorrow for work. Please tell us something we don’t already know about the great Nancy Sinatra!
“Thank you. But first, I’d like to thank The Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantheon for the great honor and privilege of inducting Nancy Sinatra. And not to say anything bad about The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, because they do have a lot of deserving inductees, but have left out so many who are at least as deserving—and I know that’s why you created The Panth….”
True dat, Jim, but this has been a long night….
“Well if you’d start the VIP Cocktail Hour earlier, and maybe shorten it….”
We’ll take that under advisement. Anything else?
“Yes! Nancy Sinatra! The landmark hits, the ‘60s icon—we know all that. But what a lot of you don’t know is what a wonderful person she is. Loving, caring, giving. Daughter, sister, mother, grandmother. Antiwar liberal yet pro-veteran to the extreme. And always totally honest.”
“Now I know everyone wants to get home after this long but richly-deserved tribute. So I’ll conclude by urging all of you to follow Nancy on Twitter @NancySinatra, because her tweets are always so right-on. And while you’re at it, let’s find another Hall of Fame to induct her into!”
Thank you, Jim!
Previously inducted into The Rock ‘n’ Roll Pantheon:
David Johansen and the New York Dolls
Joan Jett and The Runaways
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