The daughter of the legendary Dottie West and her first husband Bill, a noted steel guitar player, Shelly West was a popular singer of pop-flavored country tunes during the 1980s.
Shelly got her start at age 17 touring with her mother's show; she started out singing backup, but was soon given lead vocal chores. While touring, she fell in love with her mother's lead guitarist Allen Frizzell; they married and left the band in 1977 to move to California. Allen was the little brother of Lefty and David Frizzell, the latter of whom had a regular gig in a neighboring town. The newlyweds soon joined his band and played with him for a few months. They toured the Southwest, and upon their return, David began looking for a record label. A demo of the duet "Lovin' on Borrowed Time" featuring West and her brother-in-law impressed record producer Snuff Garrett, who signed them both to Casablanca West. Unfortunately, Polygram took over the label and dumped the duo, who unsuccessfully tried their luck in Nashville. Garrett still believed the two had potential and eventually played their song and its follow-up "You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma" to actor Clint Eastwood, who had just founded his own record label, Viva. Eastwood liked the latter song and added it to his film Any Which Way You Can, and the song hit number one on the country charts in early 1981.
Their next four songs, beginning with the Top Ten hit "A Texas State of Mind," were also successful, and the duo's considerable success continued through 1985, when they split up. (They cited a lack of good duet songs as their main reason; the fact that West and her husband had just divorced may also have been a factor). West made her solo debut in 1983 with "Jose Cuervo," which hit number one and provided a sales boost for the tequila company. Her solo follow-up "Flight 309 to Tennessee" made the Top Five. Between 1984 and 1986, West had a string of solo successes that included "Somebody Buy This Cowgirl a Beer" and "Don't Make Me Wait on the Moon." Later that year she had one more mid-range hit, "Love Don't Come Any Better Than This," and then faded from the charts. She basically stopped recording after remarrying, but did reunite with David Frizzell for a few shows in the late '80s. ~ Sandra Brennan