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Nancy Sinatra

Best known for the empowering 1966 chart-topper "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," Nancy Sinatra managed to create a sound and style all her own, fully separate from that of her famous father. She returned to the singles chart with her fusion of rock, country, and pop over a dozen more times, mostly with further Lee Hazlewood-penned tunes recorded with arranger/conductor Billy Strange. Though Sinatra last reached the U.S. Hot 100 in 1969, her strong-willed, go-go boots-wearing persona endured through acting roles alongside Elvis Presley and Peter Fonda, a 1981 country album with Mel Tillis (Mel and Nancy), a memoir (1985's Frank Sinatra, My Father), and a 1995 Playboy shoot just a month shy of her 55th birthday. That year, she released One More Time, her first solo album in more than 20 years, marking a resumption of recording activity that stretched into the 2010s. Following the archival 2013 release Shifting Gears, she charted in Europe with the retrospective Start Walkin' 1965–1976. Nancy Sandra Sinatra was born in June 1940 while her father, Frank, was singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. As the daughter of show business royalty, Nancy grew up in the spotlight and made her first appearance on television with her father in 1957. It wasn't long before she developed aspirations of her own as a performer -- she had studied music, dancing, and voice for most of her youth -- and in 1960, she made her debut as a professional performer on a television special hosted by her father and featuring guest star Elvis Presley, then fresh out of the Army. After appearing in a number of movies and guest starring on various television episodes, Nancy was eager to break into music, and she signed a deal with her father's record label, Reprise. However, the second single from her 1966 debut album, Boots, "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," made it clear she had the talent and the moxie to make it without her father's help. Belting out a definitive tough-as-nails lyric over a brassy arrangement by Bill Strange (and with the cream of L.A.'s session players behind her), "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" took the "tough girl" posturing of the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes to a whole new level on its way to number one in places including the U.S., U.K., Australia, and South Africa. A number of hits followed, including "How Does That Grab You," "Sugar Town," and the theme song to the James Bond picture You Only Live Twice. Nancy also teamed up with her father for the single "Somethin' Stupid," which raced to the top of the charts in 1967. Most of her hits were produced by Lee Hazlewood, who went on to become a cult hero in his own right and recorded a number of memorable duets with her, including "Sand," "Summer Wine," and the one-of-a-kind epic "Some Velvet Morning." Nancy reinforced her "tough girl" persona in 1966, co-starring in a role opposite Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels, the Roger Corman film that helped kick off the biker flick cycle of the 1960s and early '70s. She also teamed up with Elvis Presley in the 1968 movie Speedway. Sinatra continued to record into the early '70s, but in 1970, she married dancer Hugh Lambert (a brief marriage to British singer and actor Tommy Sands ended in 1965), and devoted most of her time to her new life as a wife and mother, as well as working with a number of charitable causes. In 1981, she teamed up with country star Mel Tillis for the Elektra album Mel and Nancy, which spawned a pair of minor country hits, and in 1985, she published the book Frank Sinatra: My Father, and became increasingly active in looking after her family's affairs. She published a second book on her father in 1998 and later oversaw the Sinatra Family website. In 1995, Nancy returned to the recording studio with a country-flavored album called One More Time, and she helped publicize it by posing for a photo spread in Playboy magazine. She launched a concert tour in support of the album, and in 2003 teamed up with Hazlewood to record an album, Nancy & Lee 3, which saw a U.S. release in 2004. Nancy soon returned to the recording studio at the urging of longtime fan Morrissey, and in September 2004, she issued a full-length simply titled Nancy Sinatra, an ambitious set which included contributions from members of U2, Pulp, Calexico, Sonic Youth, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and other contemporary rock performers. The album's release was followed by more live work, including a memorable appearance at Little Steven's International Underground Garage Rock Festival 2004, at which she performed songs from her new album and "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" backed by an all-star band (including a horn section) and flanked by dozens of frugging go-go dancers. Over the next two decades, Sinatra would continue to make appearances on-stage and onscreen while turning her attention to archival recording projects. She released Shifting Gears, a collection of 15 unreleased Billy Strange-produced recordings of show tunes, all excavated from her personal vaults, on her Boots Enterprises imprint in 2013. Light in the Attic released the compilation Start Walkin' 1965-1976 in 2021; it was the first in the label's reissue campaign called the Nancy Sinatra Archival Series. Later that same year, LITA brought out a reissue of her 1966 debut LP Boots, enhanced with a pair of bonus tracks.
© Mark Deming & Marcy Donelson /TiVo
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