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Hall of Fame songwriter Dallas Frazier, teenage star of Cousin Herb’s ‘Trading Post’, dies at 82


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – One of Bakersfield Sound’s last founding contributors has passed away. Dallas Frazier, the inducted country songwriter behind hits such as “Elvira” and “Beneath Still Waters,” died Jan. 14, his family announced on Facebook.

He was 82 years old.

Frazier was born October 27, 1939, in Spiro, Oklahoma, but was raised primarily in Kern County — first on a ranch near a Pumpkin Center farm labor camp, then in Bakersfield after winning a horse show. talents at Rainbow Gardens – now the Kern County Basque Club – where Ferlin Husky’s band, the Termites, were the house band.

Frazier eventually moved in with Husky and his wife and another young future star, Tommy Collins, who would become a lifelong friend. Frazier continued to make regular television appearances on Cousin Herb Henson’s “Trading Post,” making his debut in 1953 at age 14.

Frazier had just signed with Capitol Records and recorded two minor hits: “Ain’t You Had No Bringin’ Up at All” and “Love Life at 14”.

“Don’t ask what I knew about love at the time, because it wasn’t much,” Frazier said in “The Bakersfield Sound: How a Generation of Displaced Okies Revolutionized American Music.”

But Frazier was learning a lot about live television. His voice was polite, but his on-stage demeanor revealed him for the baby he really was: Older Bakersfield viewers might remember Frazier as the bandana-wearing kid who sang with one end of his scarf in every hand.

As he chirped to a tune, Frazier kept time by tugging the bandana in a shoe-shine motion against the back of his neck. Some might have considered it a nervous tic, but Frazier says he got used to Husky, his first mentor from Bakersfield, on whom it seemed kind of dashing.

At age 15, Frazier joined Cliffie Stone’s “Hometown Jamboree,” a popular Los Angeles-based TV show that featured stars such as Tennessee Ernie Ford and Tommy Sands, and his star was on the rise.

In 1957 Frazier wrote “Alley Oop”, which would become a No. 1 pop hit in 1960 for Gary Paxton – yet another Bakersfield-connected recording artist – and a reunited Paxton band called the Hollywood Argyles.

A succession of hits, written by Frazier but recorded by others, followed, and in 1976 Frazier was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Even greater fame would follow, none more so than the Oak Ridge Boys’ version of his huge crossover hit “Elvira.”

Rolling Stone magazine said, “Driven by its indelible ‘oom-papa-mow-mow’ chorus from Richard Sterban to the band’s deep voice, the song was a hit in 1981, topping the country charts and into the Top 5 Billboard Hot 100.”

“We lost a dear friend today,” the Oak Ridge Boys wrote on Facebook Friday. “Dallas Frazier was an influence on our country music career early on. … He wrote ‘The Baptism of Jesse’, but his influence in the 1980s was even greater when we recorded his song ‘Elvira’.

Merle Haggard recorded three of Frazier’s songs: “California Cottonfields”, “Love Has a Mind of Its Own”, and “Too Many Bridges to Cross Over”.

“Dallas Frazier is among the greatest country songwriters of all time,” Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young said in a statement. “He could convey infectious delight with ‘Elvira’ and then write something as incredibly sad and true as ‘Beneath Still Waters.’ He was a man of kindness, generosity and faith, who overcame a difficult upbringing to give us all smiling gifts.

In total, Frazier wrote at least 300 songs. He understood the formula. Nashville had “this commercial treadmill, where you develop an idea of ​​what might sell and write to that sentiment,” Frazier said in “The Bakersfield Sound.”

Frazier’s other hits included Ferlin Husky’s “Timber I’m Falling” in 1964, Charlie Rich’s “Mohair Sam” in 1966, and Jack Greene’s chart-topping “There Goes My Everything” also in 1966. which earned Frazier a Grammy nomination.

George Jones and Connie Smith recorded entire albums of Frazier’s work, and country stars Willie Nelson and Moe Bandy also composed tracks of his songs.

Frazier won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song in 1970 for “All I Have to Offer You (Is Me)”, which Charley Pride took to No. 1. Emmylou Harris earned her fourth No. 1 in 1980 with the Frazier’s devastating ballad “Beneath Still Waters”, which he originally wrote in 1967.

Services have not been announced.