Nancy Sinatra and ‘Boots,’ Her Surprise #1 Hit

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“You’ve been a’messin’ where you shouldn’t ‘ve been a’messin'”

If you’re of a certain age, then you must surely remember go-go boots, which were popular in the mid-1960s. While not mandatory, the most popular color was white. And they were popularized by go-go dancers who danced on tables at nightclubs. In 1965, Los Angeles’ influential Whisky-a-Go-Go is said to be the first club to feature its go-go dancers in cages rising above the crowd, spawning a new trend in club dancing.

At the time, Lee Hazlewood was a country singer best known for collaborating with Duane Eddy on such songs as the 1959 hit “Peter Gunn” (which Hazlewood co-produced). By the early 1960s, Hazlewood was living in Los Angeles and writing songs for popular singers like Dean Martin and Dusty Springfield. He soon began writing songs for Nancy Sinatra who, in her early twenties, had already released 10 singles that had failed to chart.

Then in ’65, Sinatra enjoyed a modest hit with “So Long, Babe,” written by Hazlewood, their first collaboration, of many, to chart. Inspired by the go-go craze he was witnessing in Los Angeles, Hazlewood wrote “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” with such great lyrics as “You keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’.” Though it’s reported that he was first hesitant to have Sinatra record it, he was convinced otherwise.

With Hazlewood producing, the Los Angeles musicians collectively known as the Wrecking Crew assembled at Western Studio on November 19, 1965 to create the music.

The session included Hal Blaine on drums, Al Casey, Tommy Tedesco, and Billy Strange on guitars, Ollie Mitchell, Roy Caton and Lew McCreary on horns, Carol Kaye on electric bass and Chuck Berghofer on double bass, providing the distinctive sliding bass line.

That’s Plas Johnson on tenor sax, Don Randi on the keyboard and Donald Frost on drums.

Related: Interview with The Wrecking Crew documentary producer-director

Upon its release, the song quickly rose up the charts and on February 26, 1966, the 25-year-old Sinatra had a #1 hit.

Our Classic Video (with over 160 million views!)…

Related: The single was one of the biggest hits of 1966

Watch her perform the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 27, 1966

Two years later, Sinatra would team up with her father and in March 1967, Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra, with Hazlewood co-producing, would enjoy a #1 hit with “Somethin’ Stupid.”

Nancy Sinatra was born on June 8, 1940. Berghofer was born on June 14, 1937. Hazlewood passed in 2007 at age 78.

In 2021, Light In The Attic Records began a campaign to honor Nancy Sinatra, who recently entered her ninth decade ─ sixth as a world-wide household name and positive force for culture change, both at home and abroad. The label will offer a selection of archival releases and full-album reissues, including a definitive collection, Nancy Sinatra: Start Walkin’ 1965-1976. Many are available here.

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8 Comments so far

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  1. JohnnyCNote
    #1 JohnnyCNote 20 January, 2017, 01:01

    Lee and Nancy had another minor hit, “Summer Wine”. I was in 4th or 5th grade, if memory serves…

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  2. Kais77
    #2 Kais77 28 February, 2021, 14:20

    A stunning beauty whose talent is only outshined by her absolute generous connection to her audience! I saw her in Chicago in the mid 90’s and not only did she give a rocking memorable performance but stayed and signed every persons request. It’s something I’ll never forget. I stuttered to tell her I still sigh when I watch Speedway!!

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  3. mick62
    #3 mick62 12 June, 2021, 16:38

    I have always loved Nancy!
    Her Dad is rather brilliant too!
    Songs that will last forever!

    Reply this comment
  4. 122intheshade
    #4 122intheshade 27 February, 2024, 00:27

    I love the story about how Lee wanted Nancy to sing “Boots”. Like she was at a truck stop full of horny truckers.

    I love the duets between Lee and Nancy. Lee always sounds like he just woke up from a weekend drunk.

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