Billy Strange, Musicians Hall of Famer and Longtime Friend to Country, Dies at 81
Turn on any Oldies radio station and you’re bound to hear the guitar or penwork of Billy Strange, a talented writer, musician and actor who died on Wednesday morning at the age of 81. The versatile guitarist and songwriter performed with everyone from Roy Rogers and Spade Cooley to Count Bassie, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
Strange’s website meticulously documents his 50 plus year-long career in music and show business. Perhaps his most recognizable credits are as the writer of Presley’s ‘A Little Less Conversation,’ or as the one who arranged Nancy Sinatra’s ‘These Boots Are Made for Walking’ and Frank Sinatra’s ‘Something Stupid.’ The Sinatras were always grateful to Strange, and there are numerous photos of the group chatting socially at the website.
“My dear friend, the legendary guitarist/arranger Billy Strange passed away this morning in Nashville,” Nancy Sinatra tweeted on Wednesday. “My heart is shattered.”
According to his biography, the talented conductor was also the musical director for the first five ACM Award shows. He recorded with Willie Nelson, Bob Wills and Dean Martin. Strange also wrote Presley’s ‘Memories’ and ‘Viva Las Vegas’ and had a role as “Speedy West” in the 1980 Loretta Lynn biopic, ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter.’
Family and friends have been sharing memories and stories of Strange at the message board on his website. He leaves behind wife Jeanne Black Strange and several children from previous marriages. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Watch Billy Strange Conduct Frank Sinatra’s Band