Lefty Frizzell Biography

Songwriter, Singer(1928–1975)
Lefty Frizzell is widely recognized as one of the most influential country singers in history. Willie Nelson and Randy Travis count him among their influences.

Synopsis

Lefty Frizzell was born on March 31, 1928, in Corsicana, Texas. In 1950, he began a long-term engagement at the Ace of Clubs in Big Spring, Texas. Later that year, he signed with Columbia Records. His 1951 releases all secured places in the Top 10. The following year, he scored three big hits. Frizzell's last hit was released in 1964, although he continued to enjoy success as a songwriter into the 1970s. He died in Tennessee in 1975.

Early Life and Career

Born William Orville Frizzell on March 31, 1928, in Corsicana, Texas, Lefty Frizzell is widely recognized as one of the most influential country singers in history. George Jones, Roy Orbison, George Strait, Willie Nelson and Randy Travis have all counted him among their influences.

During his childhood, Frizzell's family adopted an itinerant lifestyle, moving from Texas to Oklahoma to Arkansas. Emulating the sound of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers, the 12-year-old Frizzell decided that he wanted to follow in his idol's footsteps. By the age of 14, he was performing on local Texas and New Mexico radio stations.

Commercial Success

In 1950, Lefty Frizzell began a long-term engagement at the Ace of Clubs in Big Spring, Texas. Later that year, he signed with Columbia Records after his song, "If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time," caught the attention of recording engineer Jim Beck.

Frizzell's 1951 releases, including "Money," "I Love You" and "Always Late (With Your Kisses)," all secured places in the Top 10. The following year, he scored three big hits with "Don't Stay Away ('Till Loves Grows Cold)," "Forever (and Always)" and "I'm an Old Old Man (Tryin' to Live While I Can)."

Final Years

Even after his streak of 13 Top 10 hits ended in 1953, Frizzell, who was a heavy drinker and was notorious for poor career choices, remained a popular touring artist and was a regular on television's Town Hall Party. His last hit, "Saginaw, Michigan," was released in 1964, although he continued to enjoy success as a songwriter into the 1970s.

On July 19, 1975, at the age of 47, Frizzell died of a massive stroke in Nashville, Tennessee. He was honored with election into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1982. Among the many posthumous honors that Frizzell received was the 1998 Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

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