Elvira (song)

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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
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] 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] 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]

The song's chorus bears a resemblance to the song "Searchin'" written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller and recorded famously by the Coasters.

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

The Oaks already had a very successful career in 1981. They had five gold albums to their credits, with one Greatest Hits collection about to go platinum, pretty much all of their hits had been number one hits on Billboard or CashBox, and they had a few of their songs cross 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:[5] “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.” A year later, they finally found that song, and that song would become their biggest hit ever in 1981.

Released in March 1981 with Joe Bonsall on lead vocals,[6] "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")[7] was 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).

In 2015, the Oak Ridge Boys covered the song with a capella group Home Free on their album Country Evolution.

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)[8] 87
Canadian RPM Country Tracks 1
Canadian RPM Top Singles 26
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary Tracks 13
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[9] 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 Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Elvira - The Oak Ridge Boys | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  2. ^ Jason Ankeny (1939-10-27). "Dallas Frazier | Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-31. 
  3. ^ "Elvira by The Oak Ridge Boys". Songfacts.com. 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. ^ David Kent: Australian Chart Book, Australian Chart Book Pty Ltd., 2010, ISBN 9780646529950
  9. ^ "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