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Billy Strange Dead: ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin” Collaborator Dies at 81

Michael Ochs Archives

Famed singer-songwriter and musician Billy Strange passed away Wednesday (Feb. 22) in Nashville at the age of 81, the Tennessean reports. His cause of death is unknown at this time.

A member of the Musicians Hall of Fame, Strange played with Willie Nelson, Bob Willis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole and Dean Martin, among others. In the 1960s, he was a member of the “Wrecking Crew,” a group of Los Angeles-based session musicians who played on albums including the Beach Boys‘ ‘Pet Sounds’ and Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Boots.’ On the latter project, Strange helped songwriter Lee Hazlewood with the musical arrangement for the album’s now-classic hit, ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’.’ He also teamed with Mac Davis to co-write ‘A Little Less Conversation and ‘Memories’ for Elvis Presley.

The Southern California native was also the brains behind the Frank and Nancy Sinatra duet, ‘Something Stupid,’ which became Old Blue Eyes’ first million-selling record. His association with the father-daughter pair didn’t stop there. In the 1970s, Strange moved to Nashville to open and run a publishing company co-owned by the two.

“My dear friend, the legendary guitarist/arranger Billy Strange passed away this morning in Nashville,” Nancy Sinatra wrote on Twitter. “My heart is shattered.”

The musical renaissance man was a musician and singer on numerous TV shows early in his career, including ‘The Sons of the Pioneers’ and ‘The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show.’ In addition, Billy served as the musical director for the first five Academy of Country Music Awards.

Watch Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin” Video

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