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Lefty Frizzell

Lefty Frizzell

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Lefty Frizzell born William Orville Frizzell, was an American country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 singer and songwriter of the 1950s, and a proponent of honky tonk
Honky tonk
A honky-tonk is a type of bar that provides musical entertainment to its patrons...

 music. His relaxed style of singing was an influence on later stars Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies,...

, Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

, Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison
Roy Kelton Orbison was an American singer-songwriter, well known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country & western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis...

, George Jones
George Jones
George Glenn Jones is an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette....

 and John Fogerty
John Fogerty
John Cameron Fogerty is an American rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist, best known for his time with the swamp rock/roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival and as a #1 solo recording artist. Fogerty has a rare distinction of being named on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 100 Greatest...

. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Biography


Frizzell was born in Corsicana, Texas
Corsicana, Texas
Corsicana is a city in Navarro County, Texas, United States. It is located on Interstate 45 some fifty-five miles south of downtown Dallas. The population was 24,485 at the 2000 census...

, but shortly after his birth he moved with his family to El Dorado
El Dorado, Arkansas
El Dorado , a multi-cultural arts center: South Arkansas Arts Center , an award-winning renovated downtown, and numerous sporting, shopping, and dining opportunities. El Dorado is the population, cultural, and business center of the 7,300 mi² regional area...

 in southern Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

, where the Frizzells remained until the early 1940s
1940s
File:1940s decade montage.png|Above title bar: events which happened during World War II : From left to right: Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching "Omaha" Beach on "D-Day"; Adolf Hitler visits Paris, soon after the Battle of France; The Holocaust occurred during the war as Nazi Germany...

. Frizzell began playing the guitar
Guitar
The guitar is a plucked string instrument, usually played with fingers or a pick. The guitar consists of a body with a rigid neck to which the strings, generally six in number, are attached. Guitars are traditionally constructed of various woods and strung with animal gut or, more recently, with...

 as a young boy. By age 12, he was appearing regularly on a children's show at local radio station KELD-AM
KELD (AM)
KELD is a radio station broadcasting a sports radio format. Licensed to El Dorado, Arkansas, USA, the station serves the El Dorado area. The station is currently owned by Noalmark Broadcasting Corporation....

.
The family returned to Texas when Frizzell was still a teenager, his music career receiving a significant boost when he won a talent contest in Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

.

Called Sonny by his family, Frizzell got the nickname Lefty at age 14 after a schoolyard scrap, although his record company falsely suggested he had won a Golden Gloves
Golden Gloves
The Golden Gloves is the name given to annual competitions for amateur boxing in the United States. The Golden Gloves is often the term used to refer to the National Golden Gloves competition, but it also can represent several other amateur tournaments, including regional golden gloves...

 boxing match.

In his late teens, Frizzell was performing at fairgrounds and other venues, developing a unique, soulful voice. Like his father, he worked in the oilfields, but his growing popularity as a singer soon provided regular work on the honky tonk nightclub circuit. At the age of 19, he had a half-hour show on a small Texas radio station, getting a major break when record producer Don Law heard him sing live at the Club Ace of Clubs in Big Spring, Texas. Signed to Columbia Records
Columbia Records
Columbia Records is an American record label, owned by Japan's Sony Music Entertainment, operating under the Columbia Music Group with Aware Records. It was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company — successor to the Volta Graphophone Company...

, he immediately had a string of hits that broke into country music's top ten; several of them reached number one.

In 1950, Frizzell was invited to perform at the Grand Ole Opry
Grand Ole Opry
The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee, that has presented the biggest stars of that genre since 1925. It is also among the longest-running broadcasts in history since its beginnings as a one-hour radio "barn dance" on WSM-AM...

; the following year he appeared on Louisiana Hayride
Louisiana Hayride
Louisiana Hayride was a radio and later television country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, that during its heyday from 1948 to 1960 helped to launch the careers of some of the greatest names in American music...

in Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana. It is the principal city of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana and is the 109th-largest city in the United States....

, and then he and close friend "Cowboy" Ralph Spicer began touring with country music's biggest star of the era, Hank Williams. Handbills of the time referred to them as "Kings of the Honky Tonks." A prolific songwriter, Frizzell had four songs in the country top ten at the same time in 1951—a feat that would not be repeated on any chart until The Beatles
The Beatles
The Beatles were an English rock band, active throughout the 1960s and one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed acts in the history of popular music. Formed in Liverpool, by 1962 the group consisted of John Lennon , Paul McCartney , George Harrison and Ringo Starr...

 had five songs on the pop chart in 1964.

In 1952, while speeding through Minden
Minden, Louisiana
Minden is a city in the American state of Louisiana. It serves as the parish seat of Webster Parish and is located twenty-eight miles east of Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish. The population, which has been stable since 1960, was 13,027 at the 2000 census...

, Frizzell crashed his Cadillac
Cadillac
Cadillac is an American luxury vehicle marque owned by General Motors . Cadillac vehicles are sold in over 50 countries and territories, but mostly in North America. Cadillac is currently the second oldest American automobile manufacturer behind fellow GM marque Buick and is among the oldest...

 into the Elm Street residence of R. Harmon Drew, Sr.
R. Harmon Drew, Sr.
Richard Harmon Drew, Sr. was a fourth generation judge and a former Democratic state representative who was descended from pioneer families of Webster Parish in north Louisiana...

, the municipal judge and later a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives
Louisiana State Legislature
The Louisiana State Legislature is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Louisiana. It is bicameral body, comprising the lower house, the Louisiana House of Representatives with 105 representatives, and the upper house, the Louisiana Senate with 39 senators...

.

By the end of the 1950s, rock and roll
Rock and roll
Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that originated and evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from a combination of African American blues, country, jazz, and gospel music...

 was dominating the American music scene, and although no one would mistake Frizzell's music for anything but country, his 1959 hit, "Long Black Veil", gained wide acceptance with a variety of music fans and was the first recording of this "standard." In 1964, Frizzell recorded "Saginaw, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan (song)
Saginaw, Michigan is a 1964 song performed by Lefty Frizzell. The single was Lefty Frizzell's sixth and final number one on the U.S. country chart. "Saginaw, Michigan" spent a total of twenty-three weeks on the country chart and peaked at number eighty-five on the Billboard Hot 100...

", which took the top spot on the country music charts and broke into the pop charts as well (No. 85 pop, Joel Whitburn's Top Country Singles). The song earned him a Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 nomination.

In the early 1970s, Frizzell changed record labels and moved to Bakersfield, California
Bakersfield, California
Bakersfield is a city near the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley in Kern County, California. It is roughly equidistant between Fresno and Los Angeles, to the north and south respectively....

, where he recorded several more country music hits and became the first country singer to perform at the Hollywood Bowl
Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl is a modern amphitheater in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, California, United States that is used primarily for music performances...

. Alcoholism by then, however, was a problem: mood swings and irrational anger became a trademark, and his constant failure to meet recording commitments strained his relationship with his recording company.

In 1972, Frizzell was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was established by the Nashville Songwriters Foundation, Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. A non-profit organization, its objective is to honor and preserve the songwriting legacy that is uniquely associated with music community in the city of...

, and his song "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time
If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time
"If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time" is a 1950 song by Lefty Frizzell, who co-wrote the song with Jim Beck, and it was his debut single. The single stayed at No. 1 for three weeks on the Most Played C&W Jukebox Records and peaked at number two on the C&W Best Seller list. The Frizell...

" earned him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award
Grammy Hall of Fame Award
The Grammy Hall of Fame Award is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance"...

. Success and money only added to Frizzell's alcohol addiction, and on July 19, 1975, at age 47 he died after a massive stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens
Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens
Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens is a cemetery noted for the number of musicians' graves. It was established in 1960, and is located at 1150 Dickerson Pike in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, just north of Nashville...

 in Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Goodlettsville is a city in Davidson and Sumner counties in the U.S. state of Tennessee. Goodlettsville was incorporated as a city in 1958 with a population of just over 3,000 residents; at the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 13,780. Goodlettsville chose to remain autonomous in 1963...

. In October 1982, Frizzell was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Guitar


Frizzell's signature guitar was a Paul Bigsby
Paul Bigsby
Paul Adelburt Bigsby was the designer of the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece and proprietor of Bigsby Guitars...

 customized 1949 Gibson J-200
Gibson J-200
Gibson J-200 is an acoustic guitar model produced by the Gibson Guitar Corporation.Gibson entered into production of this model in 1938 as its top-of-the-line flat top guitar, initially called the Super Jumbo, changing the name in 1939 to the Super Jumbo 200. It was made at the Gibson Factory in...

 (Model SJ-200). Originally built by the Gibson Guitar Company, it was retrofitted in early 1951 with a custom neck and pickguard by guitar maker and innovator Paul Bigsby
Paul Bigsby
Paul Adelburt Bigsby was the designer of the Bigsby vibrato tailpiece and proprietor of Bigsby Guitars...

. In a 2003 interview Merle Haggard
Merle Haggard
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music singer, guitarist, fiddler, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies,...

 recalled, "When I was a teenager, Lefty got me onstage [at the Rainbow Garden in Bakersfield, California] and handed me that guitar. That is the first guitar I played on a professional stage." For many years it had been on loan to and displayed at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

. In January 2005 it was returned to the Frizzell family.

Legacy and influence



Frizzell's style of singing influenced a great many singers, particularly Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Keith Whitley
Keith Whitley
Jackie Keith Whitley , known professionally as Keith Whitley, was an American country music singer. Whitley's brief career in mainstream country music lasted from 1984 until his death in 1989, but he continues to influence an entire generation of singers and songwriters...

, and Dwight Yoakam
Dwight Yoakam
Dwight David Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music...

. In addition, he was widely recognized for his songwriting talents. In the foreword to a biography of Frizzell by his younger brother David Frizzell
David Frizzell
David Frizzell is an American country music singer. He is the younger brother of country music legend Lefty Frizzell. His career first started in the late 1950s, but his biggest success came in the '80s, 30 years into his career....

, Merle Haggard said "The impact Lefty had on country music is not even measurable. ... No one could handle a song like Lefty. He would hold on to each word until he finally decided to drop it and pick up the next one. Most of us learned to sing listening to him."

George Strait
George Strait
George Harvey Strait is an American country music singer, actor, and music producer. Strait is referred to as the "King of Country," and critics call Strait a living legend. He is known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional...

 recorded a Sanger D. Shafer
Sanger D. Shafer
Sanger D. "Whitey" Shafer is an American country songwriter and musician. He wrote numerous hits for stars such as George Jones, Lefty Frizzell, and George Strait.-Life:...

 song called "Lefty's Gone" on the album Something Special. In addition, Willie Nelson's
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

 1977 album, To Lefty From Willie
To Lefty From Willie
To Lefty From Willie is a tribute album to Lefty Frizzell recorded in 1977 by country singer Willie Nelson. The album features some of the biggest hits by Frizell like "I Never Go Around Mirrors " and "That's the Way Love Goes".Rhapsody praised the album, calling it one of their favorite cover...

was a tribute to Frizzell and consisted entirely of cover versions of Frizzell songs. Frizzell was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982 and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California...

. He is also in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame
Rockabilly Hall of Fame
The Rockabilly Hall of Fame was established on the internet on March 21, 1997, to present early rock and roll history and information relative to the artists and personalities involved in this pioneering American music genre....

. Frizzell ranked number 31 on CMT
CMT
- Medicine :* California mastitis test* Certified Massage Therapist* Cervical motion tenderness, a sign of pelvic inflammatory disease* Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease* Chemically modified tetracyclines* Circus Movement Tachycardia...

's 2003 40 Greatest Men of Country Music.

Fellow Texan Roy Orbison was a devout fan of Frizzell's sound, and in 1988, as a part of the Traveling Wilburys
Traveling Wilburys
The Traveling Wilburys were an English–American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, accompanied by drummer Jim Keltner...

, he chose the name "Lefty Wilbury" to honor his musical hero.

His younger brother, David Frizzell
David Frizzell
David Frizzell is an American country music singer. He is the younger brother of country music legend Lefty Frizzell. His career first started in the late 1950s, but his biggest success came in the '80s, 30 years into his career....

, is also a country singer. His biggest hits were 1982's "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino (To Decorate Our Home)" and "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma
You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma
"You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" is a 1981 single from the film "Any Which Way You Can" and was performed by David Frizzell and Shelly West. "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" was written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, Larry Collins and Sandy Pinkard would become Shelly West's debut on...

", a 1981 duet with Shelly West
Shelly West
Shelly West is an American country music singer. Her mother was the country music star Dottie West, whose career spanned three decades. Shelly West is best known for having hit duets with David Frizzell, and for their #1 hit "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma"...

. The youngest brother, Allen Frizzell followed in his older brothers' footsteps in the country field. He opened for Dottie West
Dottie West
Dottie West was an American country music singer and songwriter. Along with her friends and co-recording artists Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn, she is considered one of the genre's most influential and groundbreaking female artists...

. He was also married to Shelly West, daughter of Dottie West . Allen also played with Keith Whitley. He now plays country gospel music.

In 2006, J.D. Crowe and The New South released the album Lefty's Old Guitar. The song "Lefty's Old Guitar" was written about his custom Gibson J-200.

Jamey Johnson
Jamey Johnson
Jamey Johnson is an American Grammy Award nominated country music artist. Signed to BNA Records in 2005, Johnson made his debut with his single "The Dollar," the title track to his 2006 album The Dollar...

 and Jerrod Niemann
Jerrod Niemann
Jerrod Lee Niemann is an American country music artist. Active since 2001, he has recorded two independent albums. In 2006, he signed to Category 5 Records and charted with the single "I Love Women "...

 have both referenced to Lefty in various songs.

Albums

Year Album US Country Label
1951 Songs of Jimmie Rodgers Columbia
1952 Listen to Lefty
1959 One and Only
1964 Saginaw, Michigan 2
1965 Sad Side of Love
1966 Greatest Hits
Great Sound
1967 Mom and Dad's Waltz
1968 Puttin' On
Signed, Sealed and Delivered
1973 Lefty Frizzell Sings the Songs of Jimmie Rodgers 27
Mark of Time ABC
1974 The Legendary Lefty Frizzell 37
1975 Classic Style
Remembering... The Greatest Hits of Lefty Frizzell 43 Columbia
1977 ABC Collection ABC

Singles

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country
Hot Country Songs
Hot Country Songs is a chart published weekly by Billboard magazine in the United States.This 60-position chart lists the most popular country music songs, calculated weekly mostly by airplay and occasionally commercial sales...

US
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

CAN Country
1950 "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time
If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time
"If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time" is a 1950 song by Lefty Frizzell, who co-wrote the song with Jim Beck, and it was his debut single. The single stayed at No. 1 for three weeks on the Most Played C&W Jukebox Records and peaked at number two on the C&W Best Seller list. The Frizell...

"
1 Listen to Lefty
"I Love You a Thousand Ways" 1
1951 "Look What Thoughts Will Do" 4
"Shine, Shave, Shower (It's Saturday)" 7 single only
"I Want to Be With You Always
I Want to Be With You Always
"I Want to Be With You Always" is a 1951 song by Lefty Frizzell. The song became Lefty Frizzell's first number one on the Country & Western Best Seller charts where it spent six weeks at number one and a total of twenty-seven weeks on the chart....

"
1 29 Listen to Lefty
"Always Late (With Your Kisses)" 1
"Mom and Dad's Waltz" 2
"Travellin' Blues" 6 Songs of Jimmie Rodgers
1952 "Give Me More, More, More (Of Your Kisses)" 1 singles only
"How Long Will It Take (To Stop Loving You)" 7
"Don't Stay Away (Till Love Grows Cold)" 2 Listen to Lefty
"Forever (And Always)" 6 singles only
1953 "I'm an Old, Old Man (Trying to Live While I Can)" 3
"(Honey, Baby, Hurry!) Bring Your Sweet Self Back to Me" 8
1954 "Run 'Em Off" 8
1955 "I Love You Mostly" 11
1958 "Cigarettes and Coffee Blues" 13
1959 "The Long Black Veil
Long Black Veil (song)
"Long Black Veil" is a 1959 country ballad, written by Danny Dill and Marijohn Wilkin and originally recorded by Lefty Frizzell.A saga song, "Long Black Veil" is told from the point of view of an executed man falsely accused of murder...

"
6
1963 "Forbidden Lovers" 23
"Don't Let Her See Me Cry" 30 Saginaw, Michigan
1964 "Saginaw, Michigan
Saginaw, Michigan (song)
Saginaw, Michigan is a 1964 song performed by Lefty Frizzell. The single was Lefty Frizzell's sixth and final number one on the U.S. country chart. "Saginaw, Michigan" spent a total of twenty-three weeks on the country chart and peaked at number eighty-five on the Billboard Hot 100...

"
1 85
"The Nester" 28 singles only
1965 "'Gator Hollow" 50
"She's Gone Gone Gone" 12 Sad Side of Love
"A Little Unfair" 36
"Love Looks Good On You" 41
1966 "Mama" Mom and Dad's Waltz
"I Just Couldn't See the Forest (For the Trees)" 51 Puttin' On
1967 "You Gotta Be Puttin' Me On" 49
"Get This Stranger Out of Me" 63
1968 "The Marriage Bit" 59 35 singles only
1969 "An Article from Life" 64
1970 "Watermelon Time in Georgia" 49
1972 "You, Babe" 59
1973 "Let Me Give Her the Flowers" Mark of Time
"I Can't Get Over You to Save My Life" 43 The Legendary Lefty Frizzell
1974 "I Never Go Around Mirrors" 25
"Railroad Lady" 52
"Lucky Arms" 21
1975 "Life's Like Poetry" 67 Classic Style
"Falling" 50 49

External links