For the week ending April 22, 1967, Nancy scored a chart hat trick on Billboard’s Hot 100: at number 1 with Nancy & Frank’s “Somethin’ Stupid,” at number 15 (as a “STAR performer–Sides registering greatest proportionate upward progress this week”) with “Love Eyes,” and at number 51 with Nancy & Lee’s “Summer Wine” in its eighth week on the chart. Nancy had accomplished this feat for the previous four weeks and would repeat it for the following week.
Fast-forward to March 24, 2014… Nancy enters Australia’s ARIA Singles Chart at number 92 with a 1966 recording that has never been released as a U.S. single, but has become one of her signature songs in the twenty-first century: her poetic interpretation of “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down).”
Nancy’s extensive activity on the charts is only a fraction of the history of her recordings, as she notes.
“There are at least four hundred and maybe five hundred recorded songs,
a few of which made the Top Ten and several of which made the Top Forty.
Others were lower on the Top One-Hundred charts. There were twenty-three chart records and quite a few more of what they call ‘bubbling under’ meaning they were in the Top Two Hundred.”
In referring to her “twenty-three chart records,” Nancy is too modest. It is true that Nancy has had twenty-three songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Top 40 Easy Listening: twenty-one on the former and two solely on the latter (with nine on both charts). But, considering individual entries on the Hot 100, Top 40 Easy Listening, Bubbling Under The Hot 100, and Hot Country Singles, Nancy has achieved thirty-six U.S. Billboard chart singles. Including non-U.S. hits (Chartin’ with Nancy, Part Two) would bring the total to nearly four dozen chart singles. And Nancy’s albums on the U.S. charts add more than another dozen to this already extraordinary list. At least sixty chart entries in all.
First published in 1958, Billboard’s Hot 100 has been viewed for decades as the music industry’s standard by which a song’s popularity is gauged, combining sales and radio airplay data for the hottest singles.
Nancy on the Hot 100…
Chart Debut Date Title Chart & Peak Position (Weeks at #1) Weeks on the Chart
1965-10-16 So Long Babe Hot 100 #86 4 weeks on the chart
1966-01-22 These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ Hot 100 #1 (1 week at #1) 14 *
1966-04-23 How Does That Grab You, Darlin’? Hot 100 #7 8
1966-07-09 Friday’s Child Hot 100 #36 5
1966-09-17 In Our Time Hot 100 #46 6
1966-11-19 Sugar Town Hot 100 #5 13 *
1967-03-04 Summer Wine Hot 100 #49 9
1967-03-25 Love Eyes Hot 100 #15 8
1967-03-18 Somethin’ Stupid Hot 100 #1 (4 weeks at #1) 13 *
1967-06-24 You Only Live Twice Hot 100 #44 9
1967-06-24 Jackson Hot 100 #14 9
1967-09-23 Lightning’s Girl Hot 100 #24 7
1967-10-21 Lady Bird Hot 100 #20 6
1967-12-02 Tony Rome Hot 100 #83 3
1968-01-06 Some Velvet Morning Hot 100 #26 8
1968-03-23 100 Years Hot 100 #69 6
1968-07-27 Happy Hot 100 #74 4
1968-11-30 Good Time Girl Hot 100 #65 5
1969-03-15 God Knows I Love You Hot 100 #97 3
1969-05-24 Here We Go Again Hot 100 #98 2
1969-09-20 Drummer Man Hot 100 #98 2
*RIAA Gold Singles Certifications (for sales in excess of 1,000,000 units) were awarded to: “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” (certification date: February 25, 1966), “Sugar Town” (April 3, 1967), and “Somethin’ Stupid” (April 19, 1967).
Nancy’s first appearance on the U.S. charts, “So Long Babe,” peaked at #86 on the Hot 100 (November 6, 1965). Nancy realizes the significance of this single.
An interesting coincidence: Nancy had entered the Hot 100 at #98 for the week ending October 16, 1965 right behind Reprise labelmate Trini Lopez.
Lopez appeared in Nancy’s 1965 motion picture, Marriage On The Rocks, in a scene featuring his performance of “Sinner Man,” while Frank (as Dan), Nancy (as Tracy) and Tony Bill (as Jim) were in the audience at the “Cafe A-Go-Go.”
Recognizing that “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” would be the “home run” that she needed for the follow-up to “So Long Babe,” Nancy was convinced that “The City Never Sleeps At Night” should be flipped, making “Boots” the A-side.
In her 1985 book, Frank Sinatra, My Father, Nancy writes:
“Not to follow up ‘So Long, Babe’ with another entry that made the charts would have been suicidal in such a highly competitive business. I’d probably not get another shot as good. We recorded ‘The City Never Sleeps At Night.’ And the B-side was the song my dad liked,
the one with two verses. Lee added a middle verse.”
“I still believed the B-side should be the A-side and I announced it bitingly to everybody as I strutted out of the studio with my new nasty image. I played the tape for Dad and he agreed. Late that night, Lee called me at home and said, ‘Nasty, this is Barton. We’re going with ‘Boots.’
“I knew what this record had. It does happen–you actually feel a hit. I had been recording for almost six years without such a feeling. I just knew we had a hit.”
In an interview conducted by Elizabeth Kaledin for the February 27, 2005 broadcast of CBS News Sunday Morning, Nancy recalls her certainty that “Boots’ would be a hit.
Fred Bronson’s Billboard Book Of Number 1 Hits illustrates the international impact of Nancy’s chart-topping “Boots”:
“In Great Britain, Nancy was the first American female vocalist to have a number one single since Connie Francis’ ‘Stupid Cupid’ in 1958.”
While dominating the U.K. singles chart for four weeks in February and March 1966, “Boots” simultaneously reached number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Cash Box’s Top 100 in the U.S. (February 26, 1966).
The week that “Boots” hit the top of the U.S. charts, Nancy appeared on the cover of KRLA’s Beat teen newspaper. From “NANCY’S WALKIN’ IN!!”:
“On the personal side, Nancy is a little gal, only 5-foot-3, and weighs in at about 100 pounds. But if you ever meet her you’ll find out first of all that she doesn’t look little, because her dynamic personality blossoms out and covers the room. Brown hair and brown eyes accent
a big wide beautiful grin, and a face ready to laugh.
“Her publicity men call it ‘natural warm charm, bright wit, and a razor-sharp mind’ . . .
and you know somethin’? They’re right!”
Another international smash, “How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?” peaked at #7 on the Hot 100 and spanned 8 weeks on the chart.
Beyond reaching #5 on the Hot 100 and #1 on Top 40 Easy Listening, “Sugar Town” was a double-sided hit, with Nancy & Lee’s Hot 100 charter “Summer Wine” as its flip side. The writer, producer and vocal collaborator on both of Nancy’s two-sided hit singles on the Hot 100 offered his view of that phenomenon, in a 2002 interview:
The November 26, 1966 ad for the single, which appeared in both Billboard and Cash Box, is displayed along with the original 45’s label.
In her 1985 book, Nancy recalls the history of her first studio duet with her dad and second number one on the Hot 100, “Somethin’ Stupid.”
“In 1967, Sarge Weiss brought a duet to the attention of FS, who said: ‘Let’s tack it onto the end of the [Antonio Carlos] Jobim date.’ So, the A-team stepped aside and I came in with my little B-team and we recorded it with my father. We did the song in two takes (we would have done it in one except that my dad got silly, endlessly sounding his S’s for fun, like Daffy Duck.) Mo Ostin, President of Reprise, bet him $2 that the song would fail. During the playback in the booth
FS said, ‘That’s going to be Number One.’ […] It became number one, sold several million–
and it still sells. Disc jockeys loved to call it ‘the incest song.'”
From Nancy’s notes in the For My Dad CD maxi-single:
“The single, Reprise #0561 was on the charts for 13 weeks.
[…] it reached #1 and remained there for four weeks.
It is the only father/daughter duet in history with that distinction.”
Nancy’s second two-sided hit single, “You Only Live Twice” b/w Nancy & Lee’s “Jackson” emerged as a dual-charter, with both sides simultaneously placing on Billboard’s Hot 100 and Top 40 Easy Listening. On the Hot 100, “Jackson” peaked at #14, outperforming “You Only Live Twice” by thirty chart positions. On the Top 40 Easy Listening, “YOLT” fared better, becoming an impressive #3 record.
Nancy recorded “You Only Live Twice” twice: the original United Artists movie soundtrack version in London (with arranger/conductor John Barry) and the Reprise single version in L.A. (with producer Lee Hazlewood and arranger/conductor Billy Strange).
“A symphony orchestra [which is heard in the film version], though exquisitely beautiful, did not exactly give us the ‘Nancy’ sound which Lee felt was needed in order to achieve a chart record. The producers of the film chose me for my charting possibilities, so we felt we had to deliver a hit.
For the Country, My Way CD booklet interview, Nancy comments on the commercial success of “Jackson.”
“Lee and I had heard the Johnny Cash and June Carter version, and loved it,
so we tried to cover it and got lucky. It was one song that was not Lee’s that really took off.”
As with the hat trick of “Somethin’ Stupid,” “Love Eyes” and “Summer Wine” in April 1967, “Lightning’s Girl” along with Nancy & Lee’s “Lady Bird” b/w “Sand” were on the charts simultaneously for the week of October 28, 1967: “Lightning’s Girl” and “Lady Bird” on the Hot 100; “Sand” on the Bubbling Under The Hot 100 (detailed later in this post).
Nancy’s perspective on “Lady Bird”:
Most of Nancy’s U.S. hits achieved comparable success on the international charts. However, “Tony Rome” holds the distinction of disparate chart performances in the U.S. and Malaysia. On the U.S. Hot 100, the record appeared for 3 weeks, peaking at #83 in December 1967. However, in Malaysia, “Tony Rome” was a Top Ten hit in February and March 1968.
From Nancy’s comments for Boots: Nancy Sinatra’s All-Time Hits:
“One of the best experiences of my recording life. The first was getting a #1 hit for my father’s label with ‘Boots.’ I told him that I’d have the first, but Dean Martin beat me with ‘Everybody Loves Somebody.’ ‘Somethin’ Stupid’ was the second thrill, and the third was doing ‘Tony Rome’ for my father’s movie. I think you can see him as ‘Tony Rome’ when you hear the song.”
The back cover of the Japanese picture sleeve for the single Elusive Dreams / Tony Rome is displayed. “Tony Rome’s” original U.S. release (Reprise 0636) was b/w “This Town.”
Billboard’s Easy Listening chart was renamed “Adult Contemporary” in April 1979.
Nancy on the Top 40 Easy Listening…
Chart Debut Date Title Chart & Peak Position (Weeks at #1) Weeks on the Chart
1966-12-03 Sugar Town Top 40 Easy Listening #1 (2 weeks at #1) 13
1967-04-22 Love Eyes Top 40 Easy Listening #30 7
1967-03-18 Somethin’ Stupid Top 40 Easy Listening #1 (9 weeks at #1) 17
1967-06-24 You Only Live Twice Top 40 Easy Listening #3 15
1967-07-22 Jackson Top 40 Easy Listening #39 3
1968-04-06 100 Years Top 40 Easy Listening #29 5
1968-07-20 Happy Top 40 Easy Listening #18 7
1969-04-05 God Knows I Love You Top 40 Easy Listening #40 1
1969-05-17 Here We Go Again Top 40 Easy Listening #19 5
1970-12-05 How Are Things In California? Top 40 Easy Listening #17 6
1971-01-09 Feelin’ Kinda Sunday Top 40 Easy Listening #30 4
Nancy has had two entries on the Top 40 Easy Listening/Adult Contemporary chart which were not also on the Hot 100: “How Are Things In California?” and “Feelin’ Kinda Sunday.”
The November 21, 1970 issue of Billboard presented a “Play List Recap” of “High Performance Singles from Warner/Reprise.” “How Are Things In California?” was included.
Nancy’s recording features the distinctive background vocals of The Baylor Bros., aka Tom & John Bahler, who are credited on the 45 label.
“Al and Ceil Kasha are wonderful songwriters and I’ve been fortunate to record a few of their best. I think the reason for the success of this record is the Bahler Brothers are on it.
Tom and John always added a happy sound to whatever project we worked on
and they were truly outstanding on this track.”
The second of three studio duets released by Nancy with her dad, “Feelin’ Kinda Sunday” was Nancy’s last U.S. chart record on Reprise. The single, which had debuted on the January 9, 1971 Easy Listening chart, peaked at number 30 in its fourth and final week, January 30, 1971.
From Nancy’s notes in For My Dad :
“[‘Feelin’ Kinda Sunday’] represents to me the way we felt at the time of the recording session – happy, humble and proud of the fact that we had been able to please the public as a father/daughter duo.”
From August 1963 to February 1972, Billboard’s album chart, currently known as The Billboard 200, was called Top LP’s. All ten of Nancy’s U.S. Reprise albums, as well as her James Bond and Elvis Presley motion picture soundtracks, placed on Billboard’s Top LP’s chart.
Nancy on the Top LP’s…
Chart Debut Date Title Chart & Peak Position (Weeks at #1) Weeks on the Chart
1966-03-12 Boots Top LP’s #5 42 *
1966-06-04 How Does That Grab You? Top LP’s #41 15
1966-09-03 Nancy In London Top LP’s #122 7
1967-02-18 Sugar Top LP’s #18 24
1967-07-15 You Only Live Twice [Soundtrack] Top LP’s #27 26
1967-09-02 Country, My Way Top LP’s #43 26
1968-01-13 Movin’ With Nancy Top LP’s #37 32
1968-04-13 Nancy & Lee Top LP’s #13 44 *
1968-07-06 Speedway [Soundtrack] Top LP’s #82 13
1969-05-03 Nancy [Twelve Ways] Top LP’s #91 8
1969-12-06 The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas Christmas LP’s #3 4
1970-10-03 Nancy’s Greatest Hits Top LP’s #99 7
2003-10-25 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [Soundtrack] Billboard Top Soundtracks #1 (3 weeks at #1)
2003-10-25 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [Soundtrack] The Billboard 200 #45
2003-11-01 Kill Bill: Vol. 1 [Soundtrack] Top Internet Album Sales #9
*Nancy’s two most successful LPs were awarded RIAA Gold Album Certifications: Boots (Reprise 6202) was certified gold ($1 million in sales for LPs) on November 7, 1966; Nancy & Lee (Reprise 6273) was certified gold on November 19, 1970.
Boots peaked at #5 on the April 16, 1966 Top LP’s chart (pictured, below). Having entered on March 12, the enduring long player would remain on the chart for 42 weeks.
Nancy & Lee peaked at #13 on the June 15, 1968 Top LP’s chart (pictured, below). Having entered on April 13, it would remain on the chart for 44 weeks, making it Nancy’s longest-running chart entry. The album contains five chart songs: Nancy & Lee’s latest single release at the time, “Some Velvet Morning,” previous Hot 100 hits “Summer Wine,” “Jackson” and “Lady Bird,” as well as “Bubbling Under” charter “Sand.”
A #3 album, The Sinatra Family Wish You A Merry Christmas was reported by Billboard as one of the “Best Bets For Christmas,” a special chart for best-selling Christmas LP’s and singles (published in the December 27, 1969 issue). Billboard inaccurately listed the album as, Sinatra Family Wishes You A Merry Christmas, unknowingly reflecting the “bru-ha-ha” regarding the title.
“Half of us thought it should be called, The Sinatra Family Wishes You a Merry Christmas, and the others said it should be The Sinatra Family Wish You a Merry Christmas.
I never learned what the rule is but it still makes me smile.
In 1966, Nancy reinvented a Sonny Bono-penned-for-Cher single, “Bang Bang.” An interview with Nancy for the 1995 CD reissue of How Does That Grab You? reveals how material was chosen for the original LP.
“Picking the cover versions for the album was a team effort with Lee Hazlewood and Billy Strange and myself. I was the one who came up with the reinterpretation of some of the rock things, like Cher’s ‘Bang Bang.’ That was me. I saw the lyrics differently, they just read like poetry.”
Thirty-seven years later, director Quentin Tarantino reintroduced Nancy’s version to the world as it underscored the opening sequence of his Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
The movie’s original soundtrack release would appear on three Billboard charts in 2003: Billboard Top Soundtracks, The Billboard 200, and Top Internet Album Sales. On the Billboard Top Soundtracks chart, it would reach #1 and remain there for 3 weeks in November 2003, and it would return to all three charts during 2004.
Joel Whitburn’s Bubbling Under-Singles & Albums (1998 Edition) provides this historical view of the chart:
“Billboard introduced the weekly Bubbling Under singles chart with the following explanatory note [in its June 1, 1959 issue]: ‘These records, while they have not yet developed enough strength throughout the country for inclusion on any national chart anywhere, already have stimulated considerable regional action. Rank position indicates potential to earn an early listing on
the Hot 100.’ …
“The smallest of all Bubbling Under The Hot 100 charts was five positions (October 16, 1971),
the largest equaled 36 (April 6, 1963 and May 25, 1968).”
Nancy on Bubbling Under The Hot 100…
& Bubbling Under The Top LP’s…
1967-10-28 Sand Bubbling Under The Hot 100 #107 3
1972-02-19 Down From Dover Bubbling Under The Hot 100 #120 2
“I was sobbing when I got to the last verse. It was very difficult to sing like that. Lee was thrilled.
I still remember him sitting in the control room as I sang.
He threw his hands up in the air and jumped out of his chair.
He ran into the studio, wrapped his arms around me and said, ‘Thank you’.”
1972-02-26 Nancy & Lee Again Bubbling Under The Top LP’s #213 1
1981-12-12 Christmas Country Bubbling Under The Top LP’s #210 1
The various artists compilation Christmas Country features Nancy & Mel Tillis’s interpretation of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
In an article (“Christmas LP Via E/A”) in the August 29, 1981 issue of Billboard, Jimmy Bowen (producer of many Nancy recordings and co-producer, with Billy Strange, of two Mel & Nancy duets [“Texas Cowboy Night” and “After The Lovin'”]) commented on Christmas Country’s then-forthcoming release:
“‘There hasn’t been a lot of new Christmas material out in the past few years,’ says Jimmy Bowen, E/A [Elektra/Asylum] vice president, Nasville. ‘But we needed something special to do these Christmas standards again.’”
Christmas Country and the contemporaneously released Mel & Nancy LP represent a technical milestone in Nancy’s recording history: Nancy’s first digitally mixed and mastered albums, using the JVC digital audio mastering system.
For details regarding the promotional-only single of Nancy & Mel’s duet of “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” see Nancy’s Singles Discography.
Nancy on Hot Country Singles…
& Hot Country LPs…
Every one of Nancy’s releases with Mel Tillis hit Billboard’s charts in 1981 and ’82. In addition to the aforementioned “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer,” the two commercial Mel & Nancy singles (the second of which was a double-sided hit) and their self-titled album were staples of the Hot Country Singles and LPs charts.
1981-07-11 Texas Cowboy Night Hot Country Singles #23 12
1981-12-26 Play Me Or Trade Me / Where Would I Be Hot Country Singles #43 8
1981-12-05 Mel & Nancy Hot Country LPs #56 12
Chartin’ with Nancy, Part Two looks at Nancy’s recordings which have been chart hits exclusively outside of the U.S.