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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The BBC Radio 4 news report of Lee Hazlewood's death, and the obituary on, failed equally to go much beyond the man's dreary association with Nancy Sinatra. It's a sign of age on my part, I suppose, that I could be shocked at the absolute failure to mention his key role in the work of Duane Eddy. Even the long and generally assiduous obit in the Daily Telegraph throws in a mere mention of their connection.

Yet Lee Hazlewood produced and co-wrote that crucial slew of hit singles which were part of the consciousness of everyone who listened to rock'n'roll in the late 1950s and to "pop" in the pre-Beatles 1960s - hit singles that sounded, at first, from the same black-leather jacketed, tough world that Elvis Presley occupied back then, and were at least as responsible as anyone else's work for making the instrumental single a hit genre in its own right.

Starting with 'Movin' n' Groovin'' and 'Rebel Rouser' in 1958, the Duane Eddy hits he co-wrote with Hazlewood included 'Cannonball', 'Yep!', 'Some Kinda Earthquake', 'Shazam' and 'Kommotion'. Hazlewood was also the producer of the other hits Duane Eddy achieved and were written or co-written by band-leader Al Casey and Duane, notably 'Ramrod' and 'Forty Miles Of Bad Road'.

This last title was a phrase Bob Dylan deploys in the lyrics of 'Things Have Changed'. At other times, Dylan uses two of the key sax players from those original Duane Eddy hits, Jim Horn and Steve Douglas.

After those hits were over, Duane Eddy signed to RCA and reinvented his sound to incorporate girlie-group singers (and therefore words) - and Lee Hazlewood was again his co-inventor, for the big hit '(Dance With The) Guitar Man' and the charmingly barmy 'Your Baby's Gone Surfin''.
Soon after this Duane Eddy recorded his album largely of Bob Dylan songs, Duane Eddy Does Bob Dylan, issued in 1965. The songs covered on this LP also included Barry McGuire's 'Eve of Destruction' and two songs by... Lee Hazlewood, who was, yet again, Duane's producer.

Lee Hazlewood died of cancer on Saturday, August 4, aged 78.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice words regarding Duane and Lee Hazlewood, and you are so right that Duane seems to be left out of so many of Lee's obituaries. I would like to correct one item. Al Casey was not Duane's "band leader". He was a session musician and played bass, piano, and rythmn guitar on Duane's first albums.

6:49 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


A very good & truthful piece about Liam Clancy from the Irish Times:

3:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Listen again to Sinatra's version of "Ebb Tide' & tell me that this is not a song about sex & one which deals with it a decidedly unjokey way.

Listen also to any of Sinatra's great 50s albums, especially 'One for the Lonely" and 'In the wee small hours' & then tell me they deal with relationships 'as a kind of world-wary joke'. That line is a lazy one & seems to me to reflect the same kind of prejudice that led people to dismiss Dylan's talent...

10:10 pm  

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