Nancy Sinatra was born in the summer of 1940 while her father, Frank, was singing with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra; as the daughter of show business royalty, Nancy grew up in the spotlight, and made her first appearance on television with her father in 1957. It wasn't long before she developed aspirations of her own as a performer -- she had studied music, dancing, and voice for most of her youth -- and in 1960 she made her debut as a professional performer on a television special hosted by her father and featuring guest star Elvis Presley, then fresh out of the Army. After appearing in a number of movies and guest starring on various television episodes, Nancy was eager to break into music, and she signed a deal with her father's record label, Reprise. However, her first hit single, 1966's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," made it clear she had the talent and the moxie to make it without her father's help. Sounding both sexy and defiant, and belting out a definitive tough-as-nails lyric over a brassy arrangement by Bill Strange (and with the cream of L.A.'s session players behind her), "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" was an immediate and unstoppable hit and took the "tough girl" posturing of the Shangri-Las and the Ronettes to a whole new level.
A number of hits followed, including "How Does That Grab You," "Sugar Town," and the theme song to the James Bond picture You Only Live Twice. Nancy also teamed up with her father for the single "Somethin' Stupid," which raced to the top of the charts in 1967. Most of her hits were produced by Lee Hazlewood, who went on to become a cult hero in his own right, and recorded a number of memorable duets with her, including "Sand," "Summer Wine," and the one-of-a-kind epic "Some Velvet Morning." Nancy reinforced her "bad girl" persona in 1966, co-starring in a role opposite Peter Fonda in The Wild Angels, the Roger Corman film that helped kick off the biker flick cycle of the 1960s and early '70s; she also teamed up with Elvis Presley in the 1968 movie Speedway.
Nancy continued to record into the early '70s, but in 1970 she married dancer Hugh Lambert (a brief marriage to British singer and actor Tommy Sands ended in 1965), and devoted most of her time to her new life as a wife and mother, as well as working with a number of charitable causes. In 1985, she published the book Frank Sinatra: My Father, and became increasingly active in looking after her family's affairs. She published a second book on her father in 1998 and oversees the Sinatra Family website. In 1995, Nancy returned to the recording studio with a country-flavored album called One More Time, and she helped publicize it by posing for a photo spread in Playboy magazine. She launched a concert tour in support of the album, and in 2003 teamed up with Hazlewood to record a new album, Nancy Lee 3, which wasn't released in the U.S. until 2004. Nancy soon returned to the recording studio at the urging of longtime fan Morrissey, and in the fall of 2004 she released a new disc simply titled Nancy Sinatra, an ambitious set which included contributions from members of U2, Pulp, Calexico, Sonic Youth, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and other contemporary rock performers.
The album's release was followed by more live work, including a memorable appearance at Little Steven's International Underground Garage Rock Festival 2004, at which she performed songs from her new album and "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" backed by an all-star band (including a horn section) and flanked by dozens of frugging go-go dancers.
Over the next two decades, Sinatra would continue to make appearances on-stage and onscreen while turning her attention to archival recording projects. She released Shifting Gears, a collection of 15 unreleased Billy Strange-produced recordings of show tunes all excavated from her personal vaults, on her Boots Enterprises imprint in 2013. Light in the Attic released the compilation Start Walkin' 1965-1976 in 2021; it was the first in the label's reissue campaign called the Nancy Sinatra Archival Series. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
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