Nancy Sinatra Biography
Last updated: 10/15/2009 11:00:00 AM
In the mid 1960s Nancy 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. Songs like "So Long Babe" and "How Does that Grab You, Darlin'?" helped her do it.
"These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" kicked open the doors for a whole new category of women in rock. Nancy's tough girl attitude preceded women's liberation and created the first rebel chick singer. A female revolution was born.
Armed with a signature style, catchy songs, memorable album covers and sexy, soft but confident pictures in magazines, Nancy hit the charts 22 times, becoming a role model for young, independent women as well as an icon of pop culture - Rock and Roll would never be the same!
After "Boots" went to #1 in 1966, the theme of independence and free thinking that appealed to women and men was perpetuated by "How Does That Grab You", a #7 charter and "Sugar Town", a #4 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 #1 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. "Jackson", "Some Velvet Morning", "Sand", "Summer Wine" and others were also chart records.
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 Nancy considers herself fortunate to have worked with are Don Costa, Bones Howe, Snuff Garrett, Charles Calello, Jimmy Bowen, Tutti Camarratta, L. Russell Brown, Billy Strange and Duane Eddy. Nancy's current band has included former Guns & Roses Guitarist Gilby Clarke and Drummer 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, The Perry Como Show, The Kraft Music Hall, Hollywood Palace and many others.
During the Vietnam War, Nancy was a favorite pin-up for the GIs 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".
Nancy often jokes about her film career, but the fact remains she did seven movies, two of which, "Speedway" with Elvis and "The Wild Angels" with Peter Fonda, made her the top female box-office draw two years in a row.
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, airs on American Movie Classics and 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.
She continues to be very active in politics and charitable causes, including Songs Of Love, which creates original songs, personalized for children with 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 fundraisers for donation 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 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 but 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".
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."
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 16 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 songs, Nancy closes the circle on her musical past. The new work, titled GOIN' DOWN ROCKIN', is set to be released late in 2003. This is a collaboration long awaited by Nancy and Lee fans. A European tour will support the release.
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, she and her band performed at a USO concert event called Hollywood's Salute To The Troops, an outdoor celebration for Veterans and current troops at the new Hollywood & Highland complex in Hollywood, California. The Memorial Day 2003 weekend was devoted to participating in a variety of events paying tribute to our Military heroes and paying homage to those missing and lost in action.
Having achieved a nearly 40-year legacy in rock and roll, Nancy created the platform for contemporary rebel-chicks such as, Sheryl Crow, Chrissie Hynde, Deborah Harry, Shirley Manson, Avril Lavigne and Gwen Stefani.
Rock City Magazine referred to Nancy as "the true Mother of female rock".
Nationally syndicated columnist Liz Smith wrote recently, "Nancy Sinatra is so very much more than Daddy's girl."
In a Blender Magazine survey of the "50 Sexiest Artists Of All Time", Nancy hit the list at number 12.
Journalist Greg Haymes said of Nancy, "It was Sinatra who almost single-handedly changed the image of female pop from fluff to tough".
Rolling Stone Magazine senior editor, David Wild, described Nancy as simply "groundbreaking, heartbreaking and eternally cool."