Roy Orbison


Roy Kelton Orbison was an American singer-songwriter, best known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly/country and western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis.… Read More

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1936 Birth Born on April 23, 1936.


1955 19 Years Old While living in Odessa, Orbison saw a performance by Elvis Presley, who was only a year older and a rising star. Johnny Cash toured the area in 1955, playing on the same local radio show as the Teen Kings, and suggested that Orbison approach Sam Phillips at Sun Records, the home of rockabilly artists Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Cash. … Read More


1957 21 Years Old Orbison had some success at Sun Records, however, and was introduced to Elvis Presley's social circle, once going to pick up a date for Presley in his purple Cadillac. Orbison sold "Claudette" - a song he wrote about Claudette Frady whom he married in 1957 - to the Everly Brothers and their subsequent recording of it was released as the B-side of their smash hit "All I Have to Do Is Dream". … Read More
He toured music circuits around Texas, and then quit performing for seven months in 1958. … Read More
1960 24 Years Old Influenced by contemporaneous hits such as "Come Back to Me (My Love)" and "Come Softly to Me", Orbison and Joe Melson wrote a song in early 1960 which, using elements from "Uptown", employed strings and the Anita Kerr doo-wop backing singers. … Read More
1961 25 Years Old …  The composition of Orbison's following hits reflected "Running Scared": a story about an emotionally vulnerable man facing loss or grief, a crescendo culminating in a surprise ending that employed Orbison's dynamic voice. "Crying" followed in July 1961 and reached number two; it was coupled with an up-tempo R&B song, "Candy Man", written by Fred Neil and Beverley Ross, which reached the Billboard Top 30, staying on the charts for two months.
While Orbison was touring Australia in 1962, an Australian DJ referred to him affectionately as "The Big O", partly based on the big finishes to his dramatic ballads, and the moniker stuck with him thereafter. … Read More
He had a string of hits in 1963 with "In Dreams" (U.S. number 7/UK number 6), "Falling" (22/9), "Mean Woman Blues" (5/3) coupled with "Blue Bayou" (29/3). … Read More
1964 28 Years Old 1 More Event
He did it twice, with 'It's Over' on June 25, 1964, and 'Oh, Pretty Woman' on October 8, 1964. … Read More
1965 29 Years Old 1 More Event
His contract with Monument was expiring in June 1965. … Read More


1966 30 Years Old Orbison and Claudette shared a love for motorcycles; she had grown up around them, but he claimed Elvis Presley had introduced him to motorcycles. Tragedy struck on June 6, 1966, however, when Orbison and Claudette were riding home from Bristol, Tennessee. … Read More
1969 33 Years Old 1 More Event
…  On March 25, 1969, Orbison married German teenager Barbara Jakobs, whom he had met several days before his sons' deaths. … Read More
1973 37 Years Old He left MGM in 1973 after certain albums were not coming out globally.
1974 38 Years Old He then signed with Mercury in 1974 and only recorded an album there which only got a US Release. … Read More


1976 40 Years Old 1 More Event
A compilation LP of Orbison's greatest hits went to number 1 in the UK in January 1976. … Read More
1977 41 Years Old In late 1977 Orbison started feeling unwell and decided to take a holiday in Hawaii to rest. … Read More
1978 42 Years Old 1 More Event
On January 18, 1978, Orbison underwent a triple coronary bypass. … Read More


Orbison's career was fully revived in 1987. … Read More
…  In 1988, he was a member of the Traveling Wilburys supergroup, along with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne. … Read More
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