Legendary ‘Elvira’ Songwriter Dallas Frazier Dead at 82
Dallas Frazier, best known as the songwriter behind a long string of country hits including the Oak Ridge Boys' smash "Elvira," has died. Multiple media outlets report that Frazier died on Friday (Jan. 14) at the age of 82.
Frazier was born on October 27, 1939, in Spiro, Okla., and he and his family moved to California when he was very young as part of the Dust Bowl migration during the Great Depression. According to his official biography, Frazier and his family lived in abject poverty during the 1940s, living in labor camps and picking cotton to survive.
He discovered his ability to write songs by the time he was 11 years old, and he got his first break when he won a singing contest held by country star Ferlin Husky in 1952, when he was 12 years old. He left home at 12 and began working with Husky on the Hometown Jamboree radio program, and by age 14, Frazier was signed to Capitol Records. He scored his first major success as a songwriter with a song titled "Alley Oop," which the Hollywood Argyles took to No. 1 in 1960.
Frazier subsequently moved to Nashville with his wife, Sharon, and signed to Husky's publishing company, where he began scoring regular hits including Husky's "Timber I'm Falling" from 1964. Frazier scored his first Grammy nomination for Best Country Song in 1966 for "There Goes My Everything," a big hit for Jack Greene.
George Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Connie Smith, Willie Nelson, Brenda Lee, Charley Pride, Elvis Presley, Rodney Crowell and the Oak Ridge Boys are just a handful of the artists who would go on to record and score hits with Frazier's songs. Other highlights of his catalog include Pride's "All I Have to Offer You Is Me," which reached No. 1 and gave Frazier his second Grammy nomination for Best Country Song in 1970.
He scored the most visible success of his career in 1981, when the Oak Ridge Boys scored a multi-genre hit with his song, "Elvira." Frazier first recorded the song himself in 1966, and Crowell had also previously recorded it, but the Oaks' version was by far the most successful, reaching No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart and No. 5 on the all-genre Hot 100. Frazier earned his third Grammy nomination for Best Country Song for that recording in 1982.
Frazier was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1976. He retired from music in his later years to become a Christian minister, and according to his website, he served as pastor of Grace Community Fellowship near White House, Tenn., from 1999 until 2006.
Frazier had suffered a stroke in 2021 prior to his death in January of 2022.
"Dallas Frazier is among the greatest country songwriters of all time," Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young says in a statement. "He could convey infectious fun with 'Elvira,' and then write something as stunningly sad and true as 'Beneath Still Waters.' His songs helped Connie Smith to become a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was a man of kindness, generosity, and faith, who overcame a hardscrabble upbringing to offer smiling gifts to all of us. He lived a beautiful life of a beautiful mind."
The Oak Ridge Boys were also along those who remembered Frazier via social media:
Nashville's WSMV News 4 reports that visitation is set for Wednesday (Jan. 19) from 4-8PM at Alexander Funeral Home in Nashville. Frazier's funeral will take place on Thursday (Jan. 20) at 11AM.