Billy Strange, songwriter and guitarist known for his work with Elvis Presley, has died aged 81

By: Elvis Australia
February 24, 2012

Billy Strange, songwriter and guitarist known for his work with Elvis Presley, has died aged 81.

Billy Strange co-wrote several songs for Elvis Presley with Mac Davis, including A Little Less Conversation for the movie Live A Little, Live A Little, which, while only a minor success on release in 1968, became a worldwide hit after it was heard in the 2001 film 'Ocean's 11' and then remixed by Junkie XL's for Nike and public demand made it an obvious choice for a single release which went number one worldwide in 2002.

Other notable Elvis Presley songs co-written by Billy Strange and Mac Davis are, Memories and Nothingville from Elvis' '68 Comeback Special, Clean Up Your Own Back Yard [The Trouble With Girls] and Charro! [Charro!] all written in 1968. Billy first played guitar on the soundtrack for Elvis' movie, it Happened At The Worlds Fair then on Viva Las Vegas and Roustabout. He received music director credits for Elvis' movies, Live A Little, Live A Little and The Trouble With Girls. Elvis asked Steve Binder to hire Billy as musical director for 'Elvis' known today as the'68 Comeback Special, however he was replaced by Billy Goldenberg.

Billy Stange and Elvis Presley : 'Elvis', The '68 Comeback Special.
Billy Stange and Elvis Presley : 'Elvis', The '68 Comeback Special.

Strange collaborated with renowned singer Nancy Sinatra for her 1967 James Bond theme You Only Live Twice and also arranged music for Somethin' Stupid - a duet with her father Frank Sinatra. One of his most famous and captivating performances is on Nancy Sinatra's version of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down). The tremolo-heavy arrangement of the song had been critically acclaimed, but it wasn't until the song featured in 'Kill Bill' that it became world-famous. He had maintained a long working relationship with Sinatra, including arrangements on her hit These Boots Were Made for Walking. Nancy Sinatra who was heartbroken after learning about the death of her longtime collaborator posted on social networking site, 'My dear friend, the legendary guitarist/arranger Billy Strange passed away this morning in Nashville. My heart is shattered'.

The Rockabilly Hall of Fame and Musicians Hall of Fame inductee also collaborated with other rock legends like Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Willie Nelson, Beach boys and Nat King Cole.

Billy Strange died in Nashville, Tennessee on February 22. The cause of death is currently unknown.

He leaves his two children, Russell and Kelly, from two marriages.

View a Elvis Presley Video 2010 Vdeo Interview with Billy Strange. Billy talks about his friendship with Elvis, writing songs for him with Mac Davis. Writing Memories, discussing the lyrics with Elvis in the process of writing the song, A Little Less Conversation and about that songs mega success in 2002. Working with Elvis on the song Viva Las Vegas, 'I was playing guitar on Viva Las Vegas ... he liked what I did'. On their friendship he talks about Elvis calling him up 'to his house' and them 'playing with the baby, Lisa Marie for hours. Billy also talks about working with Nancy Sinatra and her hit, These Boots Were Made for Walking and much more.

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