Lefty Frizzell: The Long Black Veil

The late Lefty Frizzell died 34 years ago but country music fans who lived in the 50'a and 60's still remember him and his legacy of music today.

William Orville “Lefty” Frizzell

Born: March 31, 1928 in Corsicana, Texas

Died: July 19, 1975 in Nashville, Tennessee

Lefty Frizzell made a lasting impact on country music by the way he changed honky tonk country music.

George Strait singing Lefty’s Gone a tribute to the late Lefty Frizzell who changed the way honky tonk country music was sung and George Jones, Merle Haggard and many other country music owe their success to Frizzell.

He left the foundation for how country music should be sung but he was forgotten until traditionalists like Randy Travis and George Strait revived interest in the music of Frizzell in the 80’s.

Frizzell spent time in prison in the 40’s for a crime that apparently never happened and he wrote two of his most famous songs while in prison If You Got the Money Honey I’ve Got the Time and I Love You in a Thousand Ways. Both songs went to No.1 for his first two chart-topping songs.

In 1951 Always Late (With Your Kisses) and I Want to be With You Always reached No. 1 along with Give Me More, More, More (Of Your Kisses) giving him five No.1 songs in two years.

He wouldn’t have another No.1 song till 1964 when he recorded Saginaw, Michigan. He recorded 11 more years but would never have another No.1 song.

Lefty singing the Long Black Veil a song which I sang for my Uncle John back in the 50’s and he recorded me singing the song onto a reel to reel tape recorder since I was visting in Kansas from Louisiana.

Uncle John was in pain and dying from cancer and I was happy to bring a small measure of happiness into his life. It was sad to see him become a skeleton of the man he had been. So that song has always been special to me because it reminds me of my Uncle John my mother’s brother.

He was getting ready to start a tour of some honky tonks in Delaware in July of 1975 when he told his wife he wasn’t feeling well and was later found in a pool of vomit and couldn’t move his side and later had a stroke on the way to the hospital.

He fell into a coma he never came out of and died on July 19, 1975. Country music had lost one of its legendary performers and country singers of today owe a debt of gratitude to Lefty Frizzell who sang country music the way it was meant to be sung.

Lefty singing She’s Gone, Gone, Gone.

Lefty singing one of his first No.1 songs If You Got the Money Honey I’ve Got The Time.

Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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