Learn to play the Guitar TODAY!

Learn to play the Guitar TODAY!
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Monday, 26 September 2011

Country Legends: Lefty Frizzell

Another country singer who was to have a profound influence on the future of country music was Lefty Frizzell. Born William Orville Frizzell in 1928, ‘Lefty’ as he became known, was a great proponent of the Honky Tonk sound.

His wonderfully relaxed style of singing was a big influence on a number of future country legends such as Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, John Fogerty, Merle Haggard and George Jones.

Originally called ‘Sonny’ by his family, Frizzell got the nickname ‘Lefty’ at age 14 after a schoolyard scrap, although his record company later tried to falsely suggest he had won a Golden Gloves boxing match!

By the time he was 19 Lefty had his own half hour show on a small Texas radio station. He got his big break around the same time when Don Law, a record producer at Columbia Records, heard him sing live at a club. Within weeks he had a number of hits in country music’s top ten – with some going on to reach number one.

Following an invitation to appear at the Grand Ole Opry in 1950, Lefty went on to appear at the Louisiana Hayride in ’51 and then after teaming up with his close friend ‘Cowboy’ Ralph Spicer, they went on tour with the legendary Hank Williams.

As a brilliant songwriter in his own right, Lefty achieved a rare feat in 1951 by having four songs in the country top ten at the same time – something that wouldn’t be beaten in any chart until The Beatles in 1964.

With the advent of Rock ‘n’ Roll towards the end of the 1950’s, Lefty and his fellow country artists found their sales dropping off. A number of them tried to record ‘crossover’ songs to reach the new audience with mixed results. Lefty’s 1959 hit ‘Long Black Veil’ was a good example and gained widespread appreciation. Later, in 1964, he released ‘Saginaw, Michigan’ which topped the country charts and also broke into the mainstream charts at the same time.

The early 1970’s saw Lefty Frizzell move to Bakersfield, California, and join a different record label where he recorded several more country hits and even played at the Hollywood Bowl, before his love of alcohol got the better of him.

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, Lefty Frizzell was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

For your own taste of Lefty Frizzell’s music just enter his name in the search box to the right or go to www.countrysongscountrysingers.com

Monday, 11 July 2011

Country Legends: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton was born in Sevierville, Tennessee on January 19th 1946, and with 25 number one singles and 41 top ten country albums to her name, she can rightly be called “The Queen of Country Music”.

In addition to her talents as a country singer she is also a very competent song writer, author, actress and philanthropist and if that were not enough, she can also play several musical instruments – although not at the same time. I just knew there had to be a flaw somewhere.

The fourth of twelve children born to Robert Lee Parton and Avie Lee Parton her family was, as she herself described them, ‘dirt poor’. This lack of money was inspirational in a number of her early songs, most notably “Coat of Many Colors” and “In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)”.

Dolly Parton always loved singing and by the age of nine she was appearing on The Cas Walker Show on both WIVK Radio and WBIR-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee. By the time she was thirteen she was recording on a small Louisiana label called Goldband Records, and even appeared at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee!

It was at the Opry she first met Johnny Cash who encouraged her to go where her heart took her, and ‘not to care what others thought’. The day after she graduated from high school in 1964, Dolly moved to Nashville taking many traditional elements of folklore and popular music from East Tennessee with her.

On her first day in Nashville Dolly visited the ‘Wishy-Washy Laundromat’ where she met her future husband Carl Dean. His first words to her were: "Y'all gonna get sunburnt out there, little lady." They were married two years later and have been together ever since.

Following some minor success’s in song writing and harmony singing Dolly released her first country single, "Dumb Blonde" (one of the few songs during this era that she recorded but did not write), reaching number twenty-four on the country-music charts in 1967, followed the same year with "Something Fishy," which went to number seventeen. The two songs anchored her first full-length album, ‘Hello, I'm Dolly’.

In 1967, country entertainer Porter Wagoner invited Dolly Parton to join his organization, offering her a regular spot on his weekly syndicated television program ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’, as well as in his road show.

Wagoner also convinced RCA Victor to sign Dolly Parton for their label. RCA decided to protect their investment by releasing her first single as a duet with Wagoner. That song, a cover of Tom Paxton's "The Last Thing on My Mind," released in late 1967, reached the country top ten in January 1968, launching a six-year streak of virtually uninterrupted top ten singles for the pair.

In February 1971, Dolly released her first number-one single, "Joshua", and for the next two years she had a number of solo hits – including her signature song "Coat of Many Colors".

In 1974, she wrote perhaps her most famous song, "I Will Always Love You," written about her professional break from Wagoner, and it went straight to number one on the country music charts. Since its release the song has been covered by a number of top singers such as Whitney Houston, LeeAnn Rimes and the opera singer Katherine Jenkins.

From 1974 to 1980, she consistently charted in the country Top 10, with no fewer than eight singles reaching number one. Dolly had her own syndicated-television variety show, Dolly! (1976–1977), and during this period a number of singers, including Rose Maddox, Kitty Wells, Olivia Newton-John, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt, covered her songs. Praise indeed.

In 1994 Dolly collaborated in the album “Honky Tonk Angels” with both Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. It was certified as a Gold Album by the Recording Industry Association of America and helped revive both Wynette's and Lynn's careers.

Dolly Parton was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 1969, and in 1986 into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 1999 she received country music's highest honour - an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In total so far she has received eight Grammy Awards and a total of 45 Grammy Award nominations.

Dolly, when asked about her looks repeatedly jokes about her physical image and surgeries by saying, "If I see something sagging, bagging, and dragging, I’m going to nip it, suck it and tuck it. Why should I look like an old barn yard dog if I don't have to?" and "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap."

To get your own slice of Dolly Parton music just go to the search box on the right and type her name in. If you don’t fancy that why not go to my website at www.countrysongscountrysingers.com and look there instead.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Country Legends: Jean Shepard

Jean Shepard

Born Ollie Imogene Shepard in 1933, but better known as Jean Shepard, she became the first post-WW2 woman in country music to sell more than a million records. It was her very first hit and in a duet with Ferlin HuskeyA Dear John Letter soared to the top of the charts in 1953 and became a smash hit worldwide.

In total Jean Shepard had 44 charted hits between 1953 and 1978 and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50 years where she still performs regularly.
Her music career began when she played bass as part of the Melody Ranch Girls, an all-female band formed in 1948.

Following on from “A Dear John Letter” she recorded “Forgive Me John”, also with Ferle Huskey, and this too became a major hit across the charts. As she was still only 20, and considered a minor, her parents had to sign her rights over to Huskey so she could go on tour and do promotions.

She recorded her first studio album “Songs of a Love Affair” , written by her, in 1955 and also had her first solo top ten single “A Satisfied Mind” in the same year. Later that year she also released a double sided hit with “Beautiful Lies and I thought of You”.

Her streak of hit singles led to an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry in 1958 as one of its few female stars; Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl being the only others.

1960 saw Jean Shepard marry fellow Opry star Hawshaw Hawkins. Sadly he was to die three years later in the plane crash that also killed Patsy Cline and Cowboy Copas. She later married country music musician and singer Benny Birchfield and they remain married.

With the release of “Then He Touched Me” in 1969, followed by further top charting songs in the early 70’s  such as “Another Lonely Night”  her popularity seemed assured, but following “With His Hand in Mine” in 1971 her singles began to drop out of the top 40.

Jean Shepard did not record again until 1981, when she released a final studio album under the label Laselight titled, “Dear John”, which included remakes of her hits, including "A Dear John Letter" and "Slippin' Away", but also included a new song, "Too Many Rivers".

In 2005, Jean Shepard celebrated 50 years as a member of the Opry and is the longest-living female member of the Opry to date.In 2011 JeanShepard was
inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

To get your hands on some classic Jean Shepard music just put her name in the search box to the right or if you prefer go to my website dedicated to her songs at www.jeanshepardcountryclassics.com