Dallas Frazier, Writer of ‘Elvira’ and So Many More, Has Died
Before you can write it, you first have to live it. And Dallas Frazier lived many lives in his lifetime, putting it all in song along the way, and amassing one of the most legendary song catalogs in country music history, while also enjoying moments as a singer and a performer in his own right. A Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer, and if there’s any justice in the world, hopefully a Country Music Hall of Famer in the future, Dallas Frazier wrote the country songs we all know and love, and now he’s passed on.
Many country songs chronicle the move of poor Okies from the dust bowl plains to the California fields during The Depression, but Dallas Frazier actually lived it. Born in Spiro, Oklahoma on October 27th, 1939, he moved with his family to Bakersfield, California where he was raised. Later he would chronicle it all in the song “California Cottonfields” made popular by Merle Haggard. But to forgo working in the fields, Frazier started collaborating with country legend Ferlin Husky when he was just 12, and by the age of 14, was already recording for Capitol Records.
But early on it became apparent that Frazier’s greatest asset was his pen. His song “Alley Oop” was recorded by The Hollywood Argyles, which was a vehicle for singer and producer Gary S. Paxton. It went #1 in music, and put Dallas Frazier on the map for many.
With that success, he chose to move to Nashville, and put together a songwriting career few can match. His first success in Music City was writing “Timber I’m Falling” for Ferlin Husky in 1964, and then “There Goes My Everything” in 1966 for Jack Greene, earning Fazier his first of three Grammy nominations. After that, it was off to the races, with many of country music’s biggest entertainers wanting to record Dallas Frazier tunes.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate Dallas Frazier’s influence is to point out how in 1968, George Jones recorded an entire album of Dallas Frazier songs called Sings the Songs of Dallas Frazier. Connie Smith would do the same thing with If That Ain’t Love and Other Great Dallas Frazier Songs in 1972. These weren’t just studio albums that happened to include Dallas Frazier songs. Emblazoning his name in the titles in tribute tells you just how revered he was.
Willie Nelson, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Moe Bandy, Elvis, and later Rodney Crowell, Randy Travis, George Strait, and the Oak Ridge Boys wouldn’t just sing the praises of Dallas as a songwriter, they would sing it in the studio by recording his songs. “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)” for Charley Pride went #1, and marked another Grammy nomination for Frazier. His third would come from the song even many non-country fans will recognize, “Elvira” made famous by the Oak Ridge Boys.
First cut by Dallas himself in 1966 when he was signed to Capitol Records as a performer, it was Frazier’s only charting hit he ever had in the Top 100 (#72). But when the Oak Ridge Boys got a hold of it in 1981, it went #1 in country, and #5 in pop, and became the signature tune from the quartet, and the diamond of the Dallas Frazier catalog.
“Fourteen Carat Mind” cut by Gene Watson, “There Goes My Everything,” and “Mohair Sam” are some other songs folks may recognize, but there are so many more where those come from. For many, a Dallas Frazier song is country music. It is the textbook definition. That is one of the reasons he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976.
In 1988, Dallas Frazier retired from the music business and became an ordained minister, though he would continue to appear at country music functions, and continued to write, including with many younger artists as a mentor.
“Our dad passed into the loving arms of Jesus this morning,” his daughter Melody Frazier Morris announced Friday afternoon, January 14th. “Glory to God! No more suffering! In lieu of flowers and food, DAD requested donations be made to Nashville Rescue Mission. God Bless each of you who loved and prayed for dad, mom, my sisters, their husbands, and our family!”
The funeral for Dallas Frazier will be at Alexander Funeral Home, 584 Nashville Pike, Gallatin, TN, 37066.Visitation will be Wednesday, January 19th 4-8 p.m., and the funeral will be Thursday at 11a.m., with visitation starting at 10 a.m. before the funeral.
January 14, 2022 @ 5:59 pm
So sad. I got to go to a talk he gave once, and he was utterly charming and had so many great stories. I’ve never forgotten that hour I got to spend listening to him. What a huge loss.
January 14, 2022 @ 6:45 pm
“14 Carat Mind” might be one of the best country songs ever.
He is with the Lord now.
Sir Adam the Great
January 14, 2022 @ 7:07 pm
As an avid reader of liner notes, it’s amazing how often his name came up. Thank you and Godspeed.
Also, the Nashville Rescue Mission is a worthy cause.
January 14, 2022 @ 7:34 pm
Tell me my lying eyes are wrong!!!
January 14, 2022 @ 7:39 pm
My favorite songwriter (my favorite singer is Connie Smith).
There’s a great video of him on YouTube singing “I’m So Afraid of Losing You Again” at home (I assume). I highly recommend it.
January 14, 2022 @ 8:45 pm
Another great songwriter, country and otherwise, has departed the scene.
One of Frazier’s other big songs was “Wearing That Loved On Look”, which was the very first track on Elvis’ epochal 1969 album FROM ELVIS IN MEMPHIS, showing that, when a song is a good one, it really doesn’t (nor should it) matter from what genre it comes or into what genre it goes (IMHO).
January 15, 2022 @ 7:32 am
That album From Elvis in Memphis is my top fav from Big E. Dallas Fraziers song you named is fantastic! Funky, slinky, greasy arrangement, the bass line is intoxicating. Lyrics are great. Forgot Dallas wrote it. Thanks. Im gonna crank it.
January 14, 2022 @ 8:50 pm
A travesty he is not in CMHOF. I don’t know what is the matter with those dimwits. Too many who finally made it in were not around to enjoy their induction. What a talent.
January 14, 2022 @ 9:54 pm
I love visiting the hall of fame itself, but lately I’ve been rewatching old cma award shows and, gosh, they are such dog and pony shows. I’m actually glad they do the hall of fame awards now in a more private, “dignified” way.
Anyways, like I posted above, Dallas is/was my favorite songwriter and him not being in the hall of fame is both shameful and puzzling.
January 15, 2022 @ 12:23 am
My brother played guitar with him … did he write The song Allyoop!🎶
January 15, 2022 @ 2:26 am
Normally I wouldn’t post twice but, good grief, Dallas Frazier is one of the great country songwriters and he won’t get recognized by your “hipster” country fan who gets their country music info solely from rolling stone or npr (I was once one of them, but then again I was young and stupid), so what better place than here. Please forgive me if I’m a bit self indulgent…
“If It Ain’t Love” was one of my favorite songs as a young, lost soul. It was when Connie Smith’s second Bear Family set came out about 15 years later that Dallas Frazier gradually became my favorite songwriter (that box set also introduced me to Dottie Rambo, the great Christian songwriter, and I’ve been a very confused Catholic ever since).
I wrote here a few weeks back that a Tom T Hall song convinced me to call 911 after a suicide attempt…I also strongly believe that June Carter Cash’s 2003 recording of the Carter’s Kneeling Drunkards Plea played no small part in guiding me to my grandfathers death bed, late 2003, when I was a lost soul. But Dallas Frazier’s songs, especially as sung by Connie, were just always there, day by day, night by night. And of course there were many other songs of his; it’s hard to keep track of which ones are his, there are so many.
January 15, 2022 @ 12:48 pm
^ this is why the comment sections are important. Thanks for sharing JB! (I’d love to read more).
January 20, 2022 @ 9:14 am
You aren’t whining about comments this time. A refreshing change.
January 15, 2022 @ 4:56 am
This makes me sad. There was a film made about his life, a documentary of sorts, that has yet to see the light of day. It played once at the Franklin Theater. I hope it comes out soon, because it is fantastic. Rest easy, Dallas.
January 15, 2022 @ 8:50 am
What a wonderful person! Talented, heaven is rejoicing!
January 15, 2022 @ 9:43 am
One of the finest people I ever met. Always had a smile. Will be missed, my thoughts, Love and prayers to his family. .
January 15, 2022 @ 10:25 am
Loved watching Dallas Frazier come out and own the stage performing 14 Carat Mind with Marty Stuart…. a remarkable talent….https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6aKq6xj6Dc
January 15, 2022 @ 1:09 pm
One of best Songwriters in History! He build a legacy! RIP Legend!
January 16, 2022 @ 7:18 am
Where would country music be without the talents of this extraordinary songwriter. So many great songs as well as many classics. Condolences to his family and friends. One fo the true greats. RIP
January 16, 2022 @ 5:49 pm
The classic death row tune by Charlie Louvin, “Will You Visit Me On Sundays”. https://youtu.be/-HxQNW6vi1k
I believe that’s a Dallas Frazier tune.
January 17, 2022 @ 11:00 am
@RR–Great clip. Shows that Dallas was multi-talented–not just as a writer. I didn’t know that. Looks like he could have put on some good shows in his own right–especially when he was younger (and probably not hampered by all that weight).
January 18, 2022 @ 5:39 am