Elvira (song)

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The Oak Ridge Boys - Elvira.jpg
Single by The Oak Ridge Boys
from the album Fancy Free
B-side "A Woman Like You"
Released March 1981 (U.S.)
Format 7"
Recorded 1981
Genre Country
Length 2:39 (single edit)
3:45 (album version)
Label MCA
Songwriter(s) Dallas Frazier
Producer(s) Ron Chancey
The Oak Ridge Boys singles chronology
"Beautiful You"
"(I'm Settin') Fancy Free"
"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 wrote "Elvira" in 1966 and included it as the title track of an album he released that year. 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.[1] The song's chorus bears a resemblance to the song "Searchin'" written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and recorded famously by the Coasters.

Frazier's version peaked at #72 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] A number of other artists recorded the song through the years with varying degrees of success, most notably Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.[3] Rogers' version appeared on the album Something's Burning, which reached the top 30 of the Billboard 200. In 1978, alternative country recording artist Rodney Crowell recorded his cover of "Elvira" (with "Ashes by Now" on the B-side).[4] While Crowell's version was only a very minor hit, it 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 record the song as well.[3]

The Oak Ridge Boys' recording of "Elvira"[edit]

The Oak Ridge Boys already had a very successful career by 1981. They had five gold albums to their credits, with one Greatest Hits collection about to go platinum. Most of their hits had reached number one in Billboard or CashBox, and a few had crossed over to the pop and adult contemporary charts. However, they were still looking for that one song that really defined them. In May 1979, William Lee Golden told People magazine: "Inevitably our music will cross all borders and labels. Someday we're going to run across something that everybody will like at the same time. When THAT happens, we'll have made it."[5]

"Elvira" proved to be that song. Released in March 1981 with Joe Bonsall on lead vocals,[6] "Elvira" quickly climbed the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, and over Memorial Day weekend it became the group's fourth no. 1 country hit. 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")[7]—was also their biggest pop hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 that July and 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).

In 2015, the Oak Ridge Boys recorded the song with a cappella group Home Free on their album Country Evolution. [8]

Chart history[edit]

Dallas Frazier[edit]

Chart (1966) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[9] 72
Canadian RPM Top Singles 27

Rodney Crowell[edit]

Chart (1978) Peak
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[10] 95


  1. ^ "Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  2. ^ Jason Ankeny (1939-10-27). "Dallas Frazier | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  3. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Elvira - The Oak Ridge Boys | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 109. ISBN 0-89820-177-2. 
  5. ^ "People Magazine". May 1979. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Poyfair, Pat (24 June 1994). "For Music's Oak Ridge Boys, Harmony Is A Way Of Life". Deseret News. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  8. ^ "Home Free - Elvira (feat. the Oak Ridge Boys)". YouTube. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  9. ^ "Dallas Frazier Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  10. ^ "Rodney Crowell Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  11. ^ David Kent: Australian Chart Book, Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd., 2010, ISBN 9780646529950
  12. ^ "Charts.org.nz – The Oak Ridge Boys – Elvira". Top 40 Singles.
  13. ^ "The Oak Ridge Boys Chart History (Hot Country Songs)". Billboard.
  14. ^ "The Oak Ridge Boys Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "The Oak Ridge Boys Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  16. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 8/01/81". Tropicalglen.com. 1981-08-01. Retrieved 2016-10-17. 
  17. ^ Musicoutfitters.com
  18. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 26, 1981

Works cited

  • 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