There's no doubting that William Orville Frizzell was a hero. Better known as "Lefty," the singer - whose string of classic hits included "If You've Got The Money, I've Got The Time" and "Saginaw, Michigan," has influenced many artists of his time and beyond. Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, and the late Keith Whitley all cited Frizzell as an influence on their style.
That list of admirers also includes his younger brother David, who has just released a new book "I Love You A Thousand Ways," based on the life of the Country Music Hall of Famer, who died in 1975.
"It's been really nice to hear people's feedback. When it first came out, we were getting five star reviews on everything. I was kind of surprised by that. People would call and send emails and tell me they were enjoying the book." Frizzell said "When I wrote it, I didn't write it like a college graduate. I wrote it in the words that our family used. I think out of all nine, I was the only one that finished school."
David, whose hits include "I'm Gonna Hire A Wino (To Decorate Our Home)," and "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma," said he wanted to clear up some myths about his older sibling. "I think that people have a tendency to go straight for the womanizing and the drinking and stuff. But, there was so much more to him than that, there really was. This guy was one of the most talented and charismatic people that I have ever seen my entire life. You don't get that from a bottle. This guy was seriously talented. He lit up the room when we walked in - no matter how many people were in it. People wanted to be close to him. He had such a magnetic personality. I wanted people to know how he really was. A lot of things that have been written about Lefty were by somebody who didn't know him to begin with. There's a lot of laughs in it, because he was such a funny guy," he says fondly.
David delves into many aspects of Lefty's life and career, from his often stormy marriage to his having four top ten singles on the Billboard Country Top Ten in 1951 - at the same time. He says Lefty's success had a lot to do with his identifiable style. "A lot of people have talked about why he sang like he did - the way he sang. The reason he would curl those notes around is he said 'I'd get a note going when I was singing, and I would get tired of it, and would just go back down where it was comfortable. He would take all the emotion out of each word. That's how he became the singer that he was. He was certainly one of a kind."
Being the oldest of his brothers and sisters, David recalls that Lefty (or as they referred to him 'Sonny') was the one to lean on when things looked dark. "He certainly was. Anything that would go wrong, he'd be the one to call. If one of us got hurt, or needed money -- and we all did -- he'd be the one that we would get hold of. He would tell us that there's nothing we couldn't do. We were seriously poor, but he would give us those kinds of dreams to look forward to."
David, who is currently in the studio working with rising newcomer Marty McIntosh, says that he would love to bring the story of Lefty to the big screen. "I just think that we've had some great biopics like 'Ray.' If we ever do that, I hope we don't go straight for the wild stories. There's so much more. How did these artists become so great if they did all these things that were so bad. They didn't do that because of alcohol or drugs. If I have anything to do with at all, you're going to see who the real Lefty Frizzell was. He became one of the best because he just was…"
- Country