Lefty Frizzell is definitely among the most influential country artists throughout the century.
While the success of Frizzell was all too brief – spanning only to four years – he managed to score several country hits, with five of them reaching No. 1. For a time, he even became the leading rival to country superstar Hank Williams. His unique vocal style and strains of his works can be heard in a wide variety of country stars, including Merle Haggard, Keith Whitley, Joe Diffie, among others.
He indeed kept the honky-tonk sound alive in an era. So, to celebrate Frizzell’s career, let’s take a glimpse of his life through these facts.
1. He’s a native of North Texas, United States.
Born on March 31, 1928, Lefty Frizzell – whose real name is William Orville Frizzell – was the first among eight children.
2. He earned his lifelong nickname from his southpaw boxing style.
He was called Sonny by his family as a child. However, he later took the name Lefty after hitting a schoolmate with his left hand during a fight.
3. His father is an oil field worker.
His family often moved in and around the oil towns of Arkansas, East Texas, and Louisiana.
4. He was twelve when he decided that he wanted to be a professional singer.
Fascinated by Jimmie Rodgers’ yodel, Frizzell pursued a music career at a young age. His first public performance was during a school program.
5. Jimmie Rodgers became his lifetime influence.
In fact, he even recorded a tribute album called Lefty Frizzell Sings the Songs of Jimmie Rodgers.
6. He had no formal musical training.
But what’s surprising is that he knew how to read music – and that gift is the underlying magic of the most memorable Lefty Frizzell songs.
7. He impressed record producer Jim Beck with a half-written original song.
Beck was the first to record Frizzell’s songs and helped him get a recording contract.
8. He only married once.
In 1945, Frizzell married Alice Harper. He was only seventeen then. The couple was blessed with three sons and a daughter.
9. He was once convicted of statutory rape.
In 1947, Frizzell was arrested for having sex with an underage fan and served six months for statutory rape in a Roswell jail. However, the awful event brought him to his senses, and he began taking his music a lot more seriously. He poured his heart out and wrote letters to his newlywed wife – most of these are songs pleading for his wife to stay in his life.
10. His brother is also a country singer.
Frizzell’s brother, David Frizzell, is also a highly respected traditional country singer who charted several hits during the 1980s.
So, which among these facts about Lefty Frizzell fascinated you the most?