Lee Hazlewood was born in 1929 in Oklahoma, spending his early years there and in Texas and Arkansas. He was called to serve in Korea and after his discharge, he pursued his early interest in radio, attending broadcasting school on the GI Bill in the mid-1950s. He landed his first radio job at tiny and remote KCKY in Coolidge, Arizona. He had no way of knowing it at the time, but while there he would launch a successful songwriting, producing and music career that lasted through the 1960s, 1970s and beyond. Although not a household name, Lee Hazlewood is best remembered for his role in the career of Nancy Sinatra.
While at KCKY Lee began writing music and some of his first songs were recorded by a couple of young Coolidge boys, Duane Eddy and Jimmy Dell, who formed the duo Duane & Jimmy. He later moved to KRUX in Phoenix, where he was the first DJ in town to play Elvis Presley. His biggest early success was writing and producing "The Fool," taken by newcomer Sanford Clark into the Top Ten in 1956. It was the first recording to come out of Phoenix and its success helped to expose the tiny Ramsey recording studio and local musicians to a national audience. It was at the Ramsey studio that he along with Al Casey, Duane Eddy and engineer Jack Miller created the "twang heard round the world" on "Rebel Rouser" and Duane Eddy's other early songs.
By the mid-1960s Lee had moved to Los Angeles and became involved with producing Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra. Sinatra was looking for someone to help jumpstart his daughter Nancy's career when Lee offered up a song he had written and titled "These Boots Are Made For Walkin' ." This song walked Nancy Sinatra all the way to the top of the pop charts. He later produced several of her subsequent recordings including the duet "Somethin' Stupid' with her father Frank. Lee also dueted with Nancy on several chart-toppers including "Jackson" and "Some Velvet Morning."
Lee was known as a tough perfectionist and sometimes a bit difficult to work with, but had a reputation for getting things done. By the 1970s he had moved overseas, living in Sweden for many years, continuing to write and record his own music and that of others. He enjoyed renewed attention when many his songs were used on the soundtracks for prominent films, including everything from "Forrest Gump" to "Natural Born Killers," bringing new listeners to his cultlike fan base. His final recording, "Cake Or Death," (2007) was released shortly before his death in Las Vegas later the same year. Lee Hazlewood was truly one of the pioneers of modern pop music, cultivating the music that he did "his way."