Lefty Frizzell: The Honky Tonk Legend
Lefty Frizzell was a country music legend who rose to prominence in the 1950s with his unique style of honky tonk. Hailing from Corsicana, Texas, Frizzell was one of his generation’s most influential country musicians. His music was responsible for helping to shape the sound of country music for years to come. Though he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on through his music.
Frizzell was born William Orville Frizzell in 1928. He was the youngest of seven children and grew up in a poor family. Despite their struggles, Frizzell’s parents supported their children’s musical talents. Frizzell learned to play the guitar as a child and began performing at local dances. He later dropped out of high school to pursue a career in music.
Frizzell’s career got off to a slow start. He struggled for years, playing in honky tonks and bars around Texas. He honed his craft and developed his signature singing style during this time. In 1950, he finally got his big break when Columbia Records signed him. His first single, “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time,” became a hit, reaching the top of the country charts.
Lefty Frizzell played with many of his contemporaries, including Merle Haggard and George Jones. He was a major influence on both of their careers. Frizzell’s music helped shape country music’s sound in the 1950s and 1960s. He is considered a legend in the genre, and his music continues to be popular to this day.
Frizzell continued to find success throughout the 1950s with hits like “Always Late (With Your Kisses)” and “My Baby’s Gone.” But his 1959 song “Long Black Veil” cemented his place in country music history. The song tells the story of a man convicted of a crime he did not commit. He cannot reveal where he was at the time of the crime because he was with another woman. The song became a hit, reaching number one on the country charts and crossing over into the pop charts. “Long Black Veil” has been covered by many artists, including Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Emmylou Harris.
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Despite his success, Frizzell’s personal life was plagued by problems such as alcoholism and drug abuse. These problems eventually led to his downfall; he was arrested several times and even served time in jail for assault. His health also began to decline; he suffered from several heart attacks before dying in 1975 at 47. Despite his struggles, Frizzell left behind a lasting legacy thanks to his groundbreaking music.
Lefty Frizzell was survived by four children: David, Darrell, Peggy, and Patsy. He also had six grandchildren.
Lefty Frizzell was one of the most influential country musicians of his generation. Though he struggled throughout much of his life, he left behind a lasting legacy thanks to his unique style of honky tonk and groundbreaking songs like “Long Black Veil.” If you’re a country music fan, check out Lefty Frizzell’s music—you won’t be disappointed! You can visit the Lefty Frizzel Museum in Corsicana. Click Here