Monday, August 06, 2007

Lee Hazlewood:Rest In Peace

Lee Hazlewood had been living with cancer for three years before he eventually succumbed to the disease on Saturday 4th August 2007. He was 78 years old.

Although his official web page is very sketchy, Hazlewood has always had a healthy internet presence. The reason I have never previously blogged about him is that I didn't have much to add to excellent work such as this or this.

Now that he has died and the blogosphere is ablaze with tributes and obituaries I would like to add my own short reminiscence to the funeral pyre:

I first saw Lee Hazlewood at Nick Cave's Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in 1999 and, although I had enjoyed the gig, I was a little disappointed at the way all of his 'hits' had been lumped into a fairly unsatisfactory medley.

When Hazlewood next returned to Europe his band was led by Jon Fell and made up of various members of The High Llamas. Before the tour started I spoke to Jon about the 1999 gig and my feelings about the medley. Although I can claim no credit for this, I was pleased to note that during the September 2002 gig Hazlewood's back catalogue was treated with rather more respect, despite the fact that Al Casey had been forced to return home as a result of ill health.

I went along to the gig with Sean O' Hagan who, though not part of Hazlewood's touring band, is of course the mastermind behind the Llamas. As a result I was invited backstage after the gig.

The mood backstage was buoyant. When I entered Hazlewood's dressing room Pete Aves was at a piano bashing out various Hazlewood standards and everyone present, including Lee and Jeane, his wife, was laughing, drinking beer, kicking back and singing along. It was a wonderful moment. I never got to speak to Lee or shake his hand and thank him for his music but I knew, even as it was happening, that I was privileged to be witnessing something rather special. It is how I will remember Lee Hazlewood.