Richard Hawley pays tribute to Lee Hazlewood

Sheffield singer tells NME.COM why he'll miss songwriter

Following the death of songwriter-producer Lee Hazlewood, which was announced this morning (August 6), Richard Hawley has paid tribute to one of his favourite artists, key influences and friends.

Hawley was not only a fan, but shared a stage with the singer-songwriter in 2002 and later conducted one of the last interviews Hazlewood gave before his death.

“I don’t think he realised how much he was respected and loved,” the Sheffield singer told NME.COM. “I remember asking him about being made a major difference to a lot of people and he just couldn’t get his head round it.

“I was there the first time he did the Royal Festival Hall (in London), and when he came offstage his guitarist asked “Lee, what’s that noise?”. Lee said ‘That’s applause’, and when he came back on stage he said to the audience ‘Please don’t clap that loud, the band aren’t used to it'[laughs].”

Hawley added that Hazlewood, perhaps best known for his work with Nancy Sinatra, was a visionary musician in his own right.

“He wrote and produced it, and yeah, he just had a unique way of doing things,” he explained. “You can’t pin him down. I mean I’ve got hundreds of his records and he was beyond interesting. I asked him about reverb, his was unique to anyone else’s, and he said they used to rent a grain store off a farmer he knew, and they’d record the artist inside there, but they used to have problems with birds landing on it so they employed someone with a pellet gun to shoot all the birds off the top of it!” [laughs]

“He always described himself as a really limited singer because his voice was below baritone, but I find his singing to be amazing. He’s one of my favourite singers of all time. The cynicism in the voice was great but he always flipped the coin. If it was a cynical song there would be a line in there which was quite humane. He used to say the songs that sell the most are dumbest and he’d always write what he considered to be ‘dumb songs’ – they’re often my favourites.”

Hawley added that with the increasing specialisation of music roles, an artist with a complete vision like Hazlewood did were becoming a rare breed.

“He was so many things, producer, writer, arranger, singer, a performer. His life, that kind of artist, there aren’t many of them left,” said Hawley. “Ironically Lee Hazlewood was overlooked in his life but we’ll desperately miss him a lot more than we realise.”

A full obituary is on NME.COM [url=https://www.nme.com/news/lee-hazlewood/30133]now.

Meanwhile send your memories and tributes for Hazlewood to news@nme.com with Lee as the subject and we’ll print the best.