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.

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