In the mid 1960s, with songs like “So Long Babe” and “How Does that Grab You, Darlin'?”, Nancy Sinatra took the image of a girl crying over her diary for a boy who wouldn’t behave and changed it to a woman who let her men know, in no uncertain terms, just how things were going to be.
“These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” kicked open the doors for a whole new category of women in music. Nancy’s tough girl attitude preceded women’s liberation and created the first rebel chick singer. The era of the female rocker was born.
Armed with a signature style, catchy songs and memorable album covers and photo spreads, Nancy has scored more than 24 chart hits in the US and Internationally and become a role model for young, independent women as well as an icon of pop culture.
After “Boots” went to in 1966, the theme of independence and free thinking that appealed to women and men was perpetuated by “How Does That Grab You”, a charter and “Sugar Town”, a chart record. Nancy’s recording of the title song of the James Bond movie, “You Only Live Twice”, became an anthem for many who still request it when she performs today. Her legendary record with her father, “Somethin’ Stupid”, is always on the “best of” lists, as are many of her duets with her mentor/producer Lee Hazlewood, including “Sand”, “Summer Wine and “Jackson”. Their “Some Velvet Morning” was listed as the best duet ever recorded, by the London Daily Telegraph critics.
In the book, Rolling Stone: Women in Rock, Karen Schoemer wrote, “Nancy’s combination of pristine innocence and vamp-o-rama sex appeal was a perfect expression for the (‘60s).” “Nancy was the first woman to turn the tables on men by using the same technique perfected by Elvis Presley,” wrote James Vickerson for his book Women On Top.
The core of her original band (some of whom still perform with her) was the world famous “Wrecking Crew”, L.A.’s finest rhythm section, who also worked with the Beach Boys, The Righteous Brothers, Phil Spector and other rock legends. Producers whom Nancy considers herself fortunate to have worked with are Don Costa, Bones Howe, Snuff Garrett, Charles Calello, Jimmy Bowen, Tutti Camarratta, Lee Hazlewood, L. Russell Brown, Billy Strange, Duane Eddy and now AJ and Matt Azzarto. Nancy’s current band has included former Guns & Roses Guitarist Gilby Clarke and Drummers, Pete Thomas of Elvis Costello’s band and Clem Burke of Blondie.
A staple of television variety shows, Nancy appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Glen Campbell Show, The Bobby Darin Show, Johnny Carson, Laugh-In, Hullabaloo, The Kraft Music Hall, Hollywood Palace and many others, including Hippodrome and Top of the Pops in the UK.
Nancy often jokes about her acting career, but the fact remains she did seven movies, two of which, “Speedway” with Elvis Presley and “The Wild Angels” with Peter Fonda, made her the top female box-office draw two years in a row. She also appeared on episodes of TV’s “The Virginian” “Burke’s Law” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”. One of her few on camera appearances in recent years, was in honor of Viet Nam Veterans, on the television classic “China Beach”, which recreated one of her shows with the USO and featured another entertainment industry icon and friend, the Honorary Mayor of Hollywood, Johnny Grant.
During the Vietnam War, Nancy was a favorite pin-up for the GI’s on battlefields and ships. For them, she represented the ideal girl to come home to. In the liner notes of her “Sugar” album, Lee Hazlewood tried to explain the dichotomy of the Nancy persona which seemed to capture so many hearts. He called her “a girl and a woman who is quiet and noisy, square yet hip.”
There were many other milestones along the way: record breaking appearances in Las Vegas, Juke Box Awards, Grammy nominations and an Emmy winning television special, conceived and produced by Nancy, called “Movin' With Nancy”. This collection of music videos, ten years before there were music videos, is available on VHS and DVD. The sequels, “Movin’ With Nancy on Stage” and “Movin’ With Nancy Nice ‘n’ Easy” will follow.
Nancy has written two books about her legendary father with the hope of setting the record straight about his life. She is also pursuing the commission of a statue of Frank to be placed in Times Square near the Paramount Theatre (where Frank created a record breaking sensation and incited the birth of the ‘Bobby Soxers’), as a lasting gift to the city of New York. For several years, she has been working toward establishing the National Museum of American Music, an educational facility and repository for the collected libraries of the greatest contributors to the heritage of American music. Work will soon begin on a documentary film about her father.
She continues to be very active in politics and charitable causes, including Songs Of Love, an artistic cooperative which creates upbeat and encouraging original songs personalized for children with chronic or terminal illnesses, Jerry Lewis’ MDA Telethon and the Thalians, who operate mental health clinics out of Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Over the years requests from fund raisers for donation of signed pairs of Nancy’s boots have resulted in auctions benefiting many worthy organizations.
Nancy personally oversees the operation of two popular websites, sinatrafamily.com and nancysinatra.com. On both sites, she maintains communication with visitors, sharing information and encouraging the expression of ideas, mutual support and community.
In 1995, after raising her two daughters and seeing them happily ensconced in college, Nancy re-started her career with her “One More Time” album and a Playboy pictorial. The latter demonstrated once again that sexuality and feminism are not mutually exclusive. She performed sold-out rock shows in the United States and Scandinavia. Nancy concentrated on reconnecting with a rock music audience by playing such famous venues as the Limelight in New York City, RPM in Toronto, the Fillmore in San Francisco, the Trocadero in Philadelphia and the Whisky, Viper Room and House of Blues in Los Angeles.
It was on tour that Nancy learned first-hand of the influence she had had on many young rockers. Kim Deal of The Breeders and Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth were two of the musicians who came to Nancy’s shows to express their appreciation for her lighting the way. Madonna has 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”. In an early interview, she said “…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”. Kelly Osbourne stated she patterned her video for “Papa Don’t Preach” after “Nancy Sinatra’s kinky Boots video”. Jessica Simpson released a cover of “Boots”, featuring Willie Nelson, on the soundtrack of the feature film version of “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
In July of 1999, the United States Postal Service enlisted Nancy to unveil their Peace Symbol stamp. The unveiling was an evening to remember, with these two American icons together on stage at the Whisky A Go-Go on the world famous Sunset Strip, revisiting the “Summer of Love.” At this event, Nancy received official commendations from the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Governor of California for her efforts on behalf of the peace movement and for her consistent support of our military troops and Veterans. She also was presented with the key to the City of West Hollywood.
August 2002 marked Nancy’s first ever concert performance in the UK. The sold-out event was recorded by and broadcast on the BBC.
Nancy currently has 20 albums on CD and there are more on the way. Bear Family Records is in the process of putting together a comprehensive boxed set, which will include rare and unreleased Nancy recordings along with all of her hits.
Reuniting with Lee Hazlewood and Billy Strange to record a CD of new duets, Nancy closed the circle on her musical past. The new work, “NANCY & LEE 3” was released in 2004 by Warner Brothers Records Australia. This project has been long awaited by Nancy and Lee fans.
Nancy’s support of American veterans who are dear to her since her USO tour of Vietnam during the war there remains a cause close to her heart. Nancy regularly appears at Veteran events, makes personal appearances and performs live concerts, including benefits such as the annual Ride To The Wall in Washington, DC, which remembers and honors POW’s and MIA’s. Frequent audience members at her shows, Veterans often signal their attendance and are always warmly greeted with a “Welcome home.” from Nancy. After 9/11, Nancy contacted the USO to volunteer her services once again. In May 2003, Nancy and her band performed at a USO concert event with Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey, called Hollywood’s Salute To The Troops, an outdoor celebration for Veterans and current troops at the Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood, California. Each year Nancy participates in a variety of events paying tribute to our Military heroes and paying homage to those missing and lost in action.
Nancy participated in the JVC Jazz Festival’s “There’ll Be Another Spring”, a star-studded tribute to Miss Peggy Lee, at Carnegie Hall in New York. According to critics, she opened with a “sassy take” on ‘Why Don’t You Do Right?” and also performed “a feline duet” with Deborah Harry of BLONDIE on “The Siamese Cat Song”, from Disney’s “Lady And The Tramp”. The event was recorded for airing on National Public Radio. Nancy and other artists have continued to perform this tribute in venues across the country including engagements at The Hollywood Bowl and the Ravinia Arena in Chicago.
For his film “Kill Bill Volume I”, director Quentin Tarantino chose Nancy’s recording of Sonny Bono’s song “Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” as the theme for the movie’s opening credits. According to the director, Nancy’s version of “Bang, Bang” is “the music the movie will work to the beat of… That was in my head six years ago when I first came up with ‘Kill Bill’. Nancy’s version is so soulful. She sings it like poetry. It gives you new respect for what a wonderful vocalist she is”.
Having achieved a 40 year legacy in rock and roll, Nancy created the platform for contemporary rebel-chicks such as Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Deborah Harry, Chrissie Hynde, Shirley Manson, Courtney Love and Gwen Stefani.
On January 27th 2005, Nancy joined forces with Cyndi Lauper and Sandra Bernhard in a fund-raising concert at CROBAR in New York city, to benefit victims of the East Asian Tsunami.
In spring 2005, Nancy was profiled on the popular CBS Sunday Morning television program.
The latest CD release, on the ATTACK/Sanctuary Records label, is the self-titled NANCY SINATRA, a series of collaborations with recording artists such as Morrissey, Jon Spencer, Reno, Calexico, Sonic Youth, Pete Yorn, Steve Van Zandt and Jarvis Cocker, released in September 2004. The first live presentation of songs from the new album occurred in a sold out performance by Nancy and her band at the Meltdown Festival in London’s Royal Festival Hall. The first single released was the Morrissey penned “Let Me Kiss You” which charted in the UK. Since it’s release, the album “Nancy Sinatra” has made the BEST OF lists around the world, including Billboard, Blender, New York Times and Guardian UK.
In late 2005, Audio Bullys built a new song around Nancy’s recording of “Bang, Bang” titled “Shot You Down”, which quickly reached in the UK, becoming Nancy’s first hit on the dance charts.
THE ESSENTIAL NANCY SINATRA, a collection of 26 songs covering 5 decades of Nancy’s recordings, was released in the UK and Europe, on March 13th 2006, by EMI. It includes the unreleased 1970’s track “Machine Gun Kelly”, in addition to many of the hits and a few fan favorites.
Nancy has recorded the opening and closing themes for noted screen writer and director Todd Stephens’ latest project, “Another Gay Movie”, a satire of the popular teen coming of age films, which opens in July 2006.
Through iTunes and other electronic media outlets, most of Nancy’s catalog (including specially crafted collections of rarities and early recordings, never before issued) is now available to modern music fans engaging in legal music downloading.
An exhibit consisting of photographic images representing Nancy’s style and originality is being conceived by curator, Peter Badge, for debut at the Einstein Gallery in Berlin Germany, with an art book of these same images to be published concurrently.
Nancy will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, May 11th 2006, in recognition of her career achievements and her contributions to society.
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