Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Nancy Sinatra changed forever the image of women in rock in the mid-1960s, moving them from singing male-dominant songs like "Johnny Angel" and "Judy's Turn To Cry" to songs of female empowerment like "So Long Babe" and the immortal "These Boots Are Made For Walkin."
With her avant-garde Carnaby Street fashions ever-present on album covers and magazines, and her pre-women's lib tough-girl attitude, she hit the charts 21 times, becoming at once a role model for strong, independent young women as well as an icon of pop culture.
"Nancy's combination of pristine innocence and vamp-o-rama sex appeal was a perfect expression for the '60s," wrote Karen Schoemer in the book Rolling Stone: Women In Rock. And as James Vickerson observed in his book Women On Top, "Nancy was the first woman to turn the tables on men by using the same technique perfected by Elvis Presley."
"Sugar Town," a #5 chart hit in early '67, and "How Does That Grab You, Darlin'," which peaked at #7 in spring '66, perpetuated the themes of independence and free thinking that appealed to young women as well as men. In mid-1967, Nancy strayed from her rebel-chick image briefly to record the title song of the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, which became an anthem for many who still request it when she performs today. Her legendary 1966 hit with her father, the #1 "Somethin' Stupid," often appears on critics' all-time "best of" lists, as do many of her duets with her mentor/producer Lee Hazlewood -- among them the chart hits "Jackson," "Some Velvet Morning," "Sand," "Summer Wine" and more.
The core of her band (some of whom still perform with her) was the world- famous "Wrecking Crew", L.A.'s finest rhythm section, who also worked with Phil Spector, The Righteous Brothers, The Beach Boys, and other icons of the era. Other producers Nancy considers herself fortunate to have worked with are Don Costa, Bones Howe, Snuff Garrett, Charles Calello, Jimmy Bowen, Tutti Camaratta, L. Russell Brown, Billy Strange and Duane Eddy.
Nancy was a staple of television variety shows during the '60s and '70s with her many guest-star appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The Glen Campbell Show, The Bobby Darin Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Perry Como Show, The Kraft Music Hall, Hollywood Palace, and too many others to mention here.
During the Vietnam War she was a favorite pin-up girl for the Gis on the battlefields and ships at sea. Her sweet/tough and sexy/vulnerable image became the ideal, the girl every guy wanted to come home to. In the liner notes of Nancy's Sugar album, Lee Hazlewood tried to explain the dichotomy of the woman-child figure who seemed to capture so many hearts. He called her a girl and a woman who is quiet and noisy, square yet hip.
There were other milestones along the way. Amid Grammy nominations and jukebox awards, Nancy was a Las Vegas regular. And in late 1967 she and Jack Haley Jr. coproduced an Emmy-winning television special called Movin' With Nancy, a collection of music videos -- 10 years before there were music videos. The special aired for the first time in more than 30 years in May 2000 on the American Movie Classics channel, and is now available to fans on VHS and DVD. The sequels Movin' With Nancy On Stage and Movin' With Nancy Nice 'n' Easy are slated to follow.
Nancy's accomplishments extend far beyond entertainment. She has also raised two daughters, and written two books about her legendary father with the hope of setting the record straight about his life. She remains very politically active, and continues to support the American veterans who are dear to her since her USO tour of Vietnam during the war.
In 1995, after seeing her daughters happily ensconced in college, Nancy kick-started her career with her One More Time album and a Playboy pictorial, once again proving that sexuality and feminism are not mutually exclusive. She performed sold-out rock shows in the United States and Scandanavia. She concentrated on reconnecting with a rock music audience by playing such hip venues as the Limelight in New York City, RPM in Toronto, the Fillmore and Bimbo's in San Francisco, the Trocadero in Philadelphia and the Viper Room and House of Blues in Los Angeles.
It was on the One More Time tour that Nancy learned first-hand of the influence she has had on many young rockers. Singer Kim Deal of The Breeders and bassist Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth were but two contemporary musicians who went to Nancy's shows to express their appreciation for her lighting the way. Madonna is another longtime admirer: "Nancy Sinatra was a huge influence on me," she's been quoted as saying. "I wanted to put on my go-go boots and walk all over someone!"
As the '90s drew to a close, Nancy reissued 13 of her classic albums on CD, introducing her to a whole new generation of fans.
With her 30-plus-year legacy in rock 'n' roll, Nancy Sinatra has helped to create the platform for contemporary rebel-chicks such as Alanis Morissette, Sheryl Crow and Paula Cole. It's like Rolling Stone Senior Editor David Wild put it in his liner notes for her 1998 album How Does It Feel?: Nancy is "groundbreaking, heartbreaking, and eternally cool."