Uploaded on Sep 5, 2010
The Original 1950 version.
Frizzell was born in Corsicana in east Texas, but he moved with his family shortly after his birth to El Dorado in southern Arkansas, where the Frizzells remained until the early 1940s. Frizzell began playing the guitar as a young boy. By age 12, he was appearing regularly on a children's show at local radio station KELD-AM. 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.
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 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, 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; the following year he appeared on Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, Louisiana, 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 had five songs on the pop chart in 1964.
In 1952, while speeding through Minden, Frizzell crashed his Cadillac into the Elm Street residence of R. Harmon Drew, Sr., the municipal judge and later a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives.
By the end of the 1950s, rock and roll 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", 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 nomination.
In the early 1970s, Frizzell changed record labels and moved to Bakersfield, California, where he recorded several more country music hits and became the first country singer to perform at the Hollywood Bowl. 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, and his song "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time" earned him a Grammy Hall of Fame Award. Success and money only added to Frizzell's alcohol addiction, and on July 19, 1975 at age 47 he died after a massive stroke. He was buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. In October 1982, Frizzell was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.