“This is the part of the song where Billy Strange raised his hand and asked if he could please leave the room.” (Lee Hazlewood, from his version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”)
Bandleader/arranger/guitarist Billy Strange passed away yesterday (Wed., Feb. 22) at age 81.
While not exactly a household name, in the music world he was a major player. And over the years, on his own and as a member of L.A.’s famed Wrecking Crew, he worked with some of the biggest and best names of mid-20th century pop music, including Elvis Presley, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, Lee Hazlewood, the Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis, Jr.
I threw together a Top Ten list of the best albums of the past year for the CBS site Street Date. It’s a fun task, but not always easy, as anyone who’s done it knows–you inevitably miss a few things, and weeks or months (or more) later, you may come to regret your choices. Either way, though, it stands as a capsule of where your head is at at a specific point in time. Here’s where mine’s been at lately.
Last night (2-5-08) I caught James Blackshaw at San Francisco’s Aquarius Records–hard to see the guy from the back of the room, but I managed to squeeze up front for a few minutes and fire off a few shots. If you haven’t heard the guy, he’s a young U.K. 12-string maestro in the John Fahey or Robbie Basho camp–a lush, cascading sound that’s both delicate and, in the right moments, intense. The site Download Music has a free MP3 download of the song “Running to the Ghost” if you’re curious to hear something.