Friday, February 24, 2012

Wrecking Crew Member Billy Strange Has Died

Guitarist, composer/arranger and singer Billy Strange died Wednesday (February 22) in Nashville from an unnamed illness. The Long Beach, California native was 81. As a member of Hollywood's "Wrecking Crew" of studio musicians, Billy played on sessions for Frank and Nancy Sinatra, the Beach Boys ("Pet Sounds"), the Everly Brothers, Jan & Dean and b. He arranged "These Boots Are Made For Walking" for Nancy as well as "Something Stupid," her duet with father Frank. He also arranged the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You." As a composer, he worked with Mac Davis on tunes like Elvis Presley's "A Little Less Conversation" and "Memories." A tune he composed (which he called "Monotonous Melody") later became "Limbo Rock." He provided the vocals for Steve McQueen in the movie, "Baby The Rain Must Fall." His own recording on "The James Bond Theme" reached #58 in 1964, followed by "Goldfinger" (#55) the next year. In later years he moved to Nashville and ran a publishing company for the Sinatras. He was married to actress Joan O'Brien for two years in the fifties and at the time of his death he had been married for many years to country singer Jeanne Black ("He'll Have To Stay"). Billy was enshrined into the Rockabilly Hall Of Fame in 2005 and the Musicians Hall of Fame two years later.