Roy Orbison

  • Born in Texas in 1936. Died in 1988, age 52, of a heart attack.
  • His nickname in the music industry was “The Big O.”
  • From 1960 to 1964, he had 22 songs in the Billboard Top 40. His biggest hit was Oh Pretty Woman – some say that this is the greatest song of all time (Rolling Stone put it at #224 back in 2011). It went to #1 in every country in which it was released in 1964.
  • Part of his intrigue was that fact that he didn’t look like a rock star. He wore glasses with thick lenses (switching later to sunglasses when he lost his glasses on an airplane), and dyed his hair black when he was a boy. He had a shy personality, was polite and humble.
  • Nothing defines Orbison more than his vocalizations. The high falsetto and vibrato are his signature sound. Unlike much of early rock & roll, Orbison songs feature the vocals rather than the instrumentation of the songs. As well they should – his singing is spectacular.
  • His career declined in the 70’s, but a revival began in the 80’s. He won a Grammy with Emmylou Harris for That Lovin’ You Feeling Again in 1980 – the first of six Grammys, including a Lifetime Achievement award in 1998. In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Also that year, he began a collaboration with Jeff Lynne, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, and The Traveling Wilburys were created. Orbison’s stage name in the group was Lefty Wilbury, named after Lefty Frizzell. Alas, Orbison only recorded one album with the band before his death.
  • Enjoy my favorite Orbison song – Crying. Don McLean’s cover of this song went to #5 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands in 1981.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *