Elvira (song)

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Single by The Oak Ridge Boys
from the album Fancy Free
Released March 1981 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded 1981
Genre Country
Length 2:39 (single edit)
3:45 (album version)
Label MCA
Writer(s) Dallas Frazier
Producer(s) Ron Chancey
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
The Oak Ridge Boys singles chronology
"Beautiful You"
"(I'm Settin') Fancy Free"

"Elvira" is a song written by Dallas Frazier which became a famous country and pop hit by The Oak Ridge Boys in 1981, now considered one of their signature songs.

Song history[edit]

Songwriter Dallas Frazier penned "Elvira" in 1966 and included it as the title track of an album he released that year. A number of recording artists, most notably Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, recorded the song through the years, to varying degrees of success.[1] Frazier's own version peaked at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1966.[2] The title of the song was inspired not by the name of a woman, but by the name of a street in East Nashville, Tennessee.[3]

In 1978, alternative country recording artist Rodney Crowell recorded his cover of "Elvira" (with "Ashes by Now" on the B-side)[4] which became a very minor hit that year. However, Crowell's version did have its fans — most notably The Oak Ridge Boys. In 1980, when the band began planning for their upcoming album Fancy Free, they decided to cover the song as well.[1]

Released in March 1981 with Joe Bonsall on lead vocals,[5] "Elvira" quickly climbed the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and became their fourth No. 1 hit that Memorial Day weekend. Their rendition — which included bass singer Richard Sterban's deep-voiced vocal solo on the chorus ("giddy up ba-oom papa oom papa mow mow")[6] — would also become their biggest pop hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 that August.

"Elvira" was certified platinum for sales of 2 million units by the Recording Industry Association of America, a distinction that, for years, it shared only with "Islands in the Stream" by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton.

Single and album edits[edit]

The single version fades out after the first key change, more than a minute earlier than the album version (which features two more key changes and "oom pa-pa mow mow" choruses).

Chart performance[edit]

Dallas Frazier[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 72
Canadian RPM Top Singles 27

Rodney Crowell[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 95

The Oak Ridge Boys[edit]

Chart (1981) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[7] 87
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 26
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 13
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[8] 13
U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles 1
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 5
U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks 8


  1. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Allmusic, review of "Elvira."
  2. ^ "Dallas Frazier: Chart History". Allmusic. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  3. ^ http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=7434 Origin of the song title, as related by Ray Baker, an associate of Dallas Frazier.
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 109. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  5. ^ Kosser, M. (2006). How Nashville Became Music City, U.S.A.: 50 Years of Music Row. Hal Leonard. p. 253. ISBN 9780634098062. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  6. ^ Poyfair, Pat (24 June 1994). "For Music's Oak Ridge Boys, Harmony Is A Way Of Life". Deseret News. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  7. ^ David Kent: Australian Chart Book
  8. ^ "Charts.org.nz – The Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira". Top 40 Singles.

See also[edit]

  • Whitburn, Joel, "Top Country Songs: 1944–2005," 2006.
  • Whitburn, Joel, "Top Pop Singles: 1955–2006," 2007.
Preceded by
"Seven Year Ache"
by Rosanne Cash
Billboard Hot Country Singles
number-one single

May 30, 1981
Succeeded by
by Razzy Bailey
Preceded by
by Janie Fricke
RPM Country Tracks
number-one single

June 20, 1981
Succeeded by
"Blessed Are the Believers"
by Anne Murray