Lefty Frizzell

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Lefty Frizzell, born William Orville Frizzell, was a country music singer and songwriter when country music was still in its beginnings. He was born on March 31, 1928, in Corsicana, Texas but soon moved to El Dorado, Arkansas. Frizzell learned to play the guitar as a child and was playing on children’s shows by the age of 12. Frizzell donned the nickname "Lefty" after a school fight with another student where he administered a mean left punch. His family moved back to Texas and he won a talent contest in Dallas, which gave his music career a huge boost.

Frizzell had a radio show where a record producer from Columbia Records liked what he saw and signed him. He immediately began recording top ten hits and was invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry in 1950. He also appeared on the Louisiana Hayride before beginning a tour with Hank Williams, the biggest country star at that time.

Frizzell made history in 1951 by having four songs ranking in the top ten at the same time. He was also the first country performer to make an appearanec at the Hollywood Bowl. He moved to California, changed labels, and recorded several more hits. By this time Frizzell was having major alcohol problems and he became known for mood swings and failing to meet recording commitments.

In the late 1950’s, Frizzell’s music broke the country music boundary and his hit "Long Black Veil" was popular in rock and roll; "Saginaw, Michigan" was number one on both the country music and pop charts. "If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time" got Frizzell a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972 and later, the Country Music Hall of Fame ten years later.

Frizzell’s alcohol addiction continued to get worse and worse, and he had a stroke and died on July 19, 1975. Frizzell’s music was an influence and inspiration in many singers, especially Merle Haggard. Many singers have paid tribute to Lefty Frizzell: Willie Nelson released a 1977 album, To Lefty From Willie and was made up of mostly Frizzell songs. Roy Orbison was also influenced and put a band together and traveled under the name Lefty Wilbury.