The Multi-Talented Billy Strange
This article was originally posted March, 2011 in Nancy Sinatra's Blog and written by Andrew Trager.
On September 29, 2010, Billy Strange celebrated his 80th birthday. In honor of the prolific and versatile artist, who has played so many important roles in Nancy’s career, here is a retrospective of just a few highlights from his work.
Arranger and ConductorBilly has arranged numerous recordings, from Frank’s “Younger Than Springtime” and “This Town” to Sammy Davis, Jr.’s Motown album, Something For Everyone, to the number 1 Sinatra duet record “Something Stupid” to The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You.”
And, of course, as a part of the Nancy-Lee-Billy team, from 1965's So Long, Babe/If He’d Love Me (Reprise 0407) to 2004's Nancy & Lee 3, Billy arranged most of Nancy’s Lee Hazlewood-produced recordings. Billy arranged the Nancy & Lee album and continued to arrange and produce Nancy's record through the 70s and 80s.
Guitarist, Vocalist and Recording ArtistAs a guitarist, Billy has appeared on countless recordings, such as The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Country Hits…Feelin’ Blue, in addition to his iconic performance on the Gibson 335 guitar with the Fender Twin amp for Nancy’s “Bang, Bang.”
As a recording artist, Billy has released many singles and albums, including his guitar albums for GNP/Crescendo during the 1960s. Pictured below are the November 4, 1967 Billboard ad (left) for his James Bond Double Feature album and its corresponding single, “For A Few Dollars More,” and a few of Billy’s guitar albums (right).
For the In The Mexican Bag album (pictured in the lower, right corner), Billy recorded his own great version of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” which includes references to Nancy (“Look out Nancy, here we come!”) and Chuck Berghofer, who also played the quarter-tone bass line on Nancy’s version (“Hey Chuck, play that thing!”).
ProducerBilly has produced many of Nancy’s recordings, including the singles “How Are Things In California?,” “Goodtime Girl,” “Drummer Man,” “Hello L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham,” the albums Nancy: Twelve Ways (aka Nancy) and Mel And Nancy, as well as the unreleased “Holly Holy.”
Songwriter and Music PublisherBilly’s songwriting credits include “Limbo Rock” (recorded by The Champs and Chubby Checker), and “Memories” and “A Little Less Conversation,” both written with Mac Davis (for Elvis Presley). Billy produced Nancy’s version of “Memories” for the Nancy: Twelve Ways album (and the Here We Go Again/Memories single); and Nancy has performed “A Little Less Conversation” as a part of her live show.
As a music publisher: Nancy and Billy’s company B-n-B Music (Boots and Billy) was responsible for publishing songs such as Mac Davis’ “In The Ghetto” (recorded by Elvis) and “Watching Scotty Grow” (recorded by Bobby Goldsboro), and Shelby Flint’s “White Tattoo” (recorded by Nancy).
Radio, Television, MoviesIn movies: Billy played Speedy West in Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980), as well as composing original music for Elvis Presley’s films Live A Little, Love A Little (1968) and The Trouble With Girls (1969).
On radio and television: Billy was a featured member of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s radio and television shows. With Nancy, Billy appeared on the TV specials Movin’ With Nancy (1967), Movin’ With Nancy, On Stage (1971), and Nancy & Lee In Las Vegas (1973).
Also on TV, Billy played guitar on the “Tennessee Bound” episode of I Love Lucy (January 24, 1955), accompanying the Borden Twins (Marilyn and Rosalyn as “Teensy” and “Weensy”) on “Ricochet Romance” and Tennessee Ernie Ford for the square dance sequence. Pictured below are the Borden Twins, and (in the larger image, clockwise) Tennessee Ernie Ford, Billy, Aaron Spelling and Lucille Ball.
Billy’s InterviewHere are links, Part One and Part Two, to a very interesting video interview with Billy, posted by Jan Derrer, who has compiled the discography for Billy’s site.
During the interview, Billy displays and discusses the Gibson 335 guitar, given to him by Nancy, which he played on the recording of “Bang Bang.”
More information is available at Billy’s site:www.billystrangemusic.com
Posted by: Nancy | Feb 22, 2012 12:33 PM | Comments(139)