The king is dead. Lee Hazlewood, singer, songwriter and Nancy Sinatra starmaker, has passed away and we're listening to the classic Nancy & Lee album all day in his honor!

From the L.A. Times:

Lee Hazlewood, singer, songwriter and producer who crafted one of the iconic records of the 1960s -- Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin' " -- then abruptly dropped out of sight at the height of his success and became a reclusive cult hero, died Saturday at his home in Henderson, Nev. He was 78.

...."He hasn't gotten the recognition he should," Sinatra told The Times on Monday. "He's one of the most influential songwriter-producers ever, and he deserves proper attention from his peers.

"They dismissed him and they dismissed our records as novelty, but . . . a lot of other songs that were recorded at that time haven't survived, and Lee's songs have survived over decades. To me that's the real test."

Hazlewood isn't identified with a signature sound the way such contemporaries as Phil Spector and Brian Wilson were, but his mainstream productions tweaked pop conventions with subtle experimentation, and over the years he moved easily from country-rooted narrative to impressionistic imagery to musical theatricality, always laced with his offbeat personality.

He is widely cited as a primary inspiration for today's neo-psychedelic and baroque-pop movements. In the late 1990s, he was embraced by such alternative rock figures as Nick Cave and Sonic Youth, whose drummer Steve Shelley reissued some of his albums on CD. A 2002 tribute album, "Total Lee! The Songs of Lee Hazlewood," features such underground artists as Tindersticks, Lambchop, Calexico, Johnny Dowd and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley.

"All his classics, they kind of go somewhere," Joey Burns of Tucson-based Calexico said in January in a Times profile of Hazlewood. "There's some kind of journey happening with the story. It's a very imaginative place. . . . He's very abstract and kind of out there at times, and a freak, and that's what my friends and I all love about them. He's out there."

And now he's really out there. Hope to see you some velvet morning on the other side Lee! Thanks for the fantastic music!

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