Lefty Frizzell’s Classic Country Song “Long Black Veil” was Based on Fact
When Lefty Frizzell released the big hit "Long Black Veil" in 1959 it sounded like a very old story. It was a tune about a man who was wrongly accused of murder but would not tell the police where he was the night of the killing.
As the song tells, he was "in the arms of his best friend's wife" so he goes to his execution with that secret. The song was based loosely on the death of famous silent film actor Rudolph Valentino who was the sex symbol of the silent film era. Rudolph died at the height of his popularity in 1926 when he was only 31 years old. Over 100,000 female fans lined the streets of Manhattan for his funeral. He was buried in Hollywood to mass hysteria from female fans, several who committed suicide.
On the first anniversary of his death and for many years later a lady dressed in black with a "long black veil" visited his grave to deliver a single red rose. This was the inspiration for Lefty's classic.