<%= render :partial => '/v9/shared/analytics'

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

related links

News + Updates

Browse recent news and stories about Roy Orbison.


Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Roy Orbison.


1936 Birth Born on April 23, 1936.


1955 19 Years Old While living in Odessa, Orbison saw Elvis Presley, who was only a year older and a rising star in the music scene. 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, home of rockabilly stars including Presley, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Cash. … Read More


1957 21 Years Old He found a modicum of success at Sun Records and found his way into 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 Frady, whom he married in 1957, to The Everly Brothers and it appeared on the B-side of their smash hit "All I Have to Do Is Dream". … Read More
Frustrated at Sun, Orbison gradually stopped recording, toured music circuits around Texas to make a living, and quit performing completely 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 Melson wrote a song in early 1960 which, using elements from "Uptown" employed strings and the Anita Kerr doo-wop backup 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, culminating with a surprise ending in a crescendo that employed Orbison's dynamic voice. "Crying" followed in July 1961 and reached number 2; it was coupled with an R&B up-tempo song titled "Candy Man" written by Fred Neil and Beverley Ross, which reached the Billboard Top 30, staying on the charts for two months.
While 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.
He had a string of hits in 1963 with "In Dreams" (U.S. number 7/UK number 6), "Falling" (U.S. number 22/UK number 9), "Mean Woman Blues" (U.S. number 5/UK number 3) coupled with "Blue Bayou" (U.S. number 29/UK number 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 While on tour again in the UK in 1965, Orbison broke his foot falling off a motorcycle in front of thousands of screaming fans at a race track and performed his show that evening in a cast. … Read More


1966 30 Years Old However, tragedy struck on June 6, 1966, when Orbison and Claudette were riding home from Bristol, Tennessee. … Read More
1969 33 Years Old …  On March 25, 1969, Orbison married German teenager Barbara Jakobs, whom he had met several days before his sons' deaths.
1970 34 Years Old His youngest son with Claudette (Wesley, born 1965) was raised by Orbison's parents; Orbison and Barbara had a son (Roy Kelton) in 1970 and another (Alexander) in 1974. … Read More


1977 41 Years Old 1 More Event
A compilation LP of Orbison's greatest hits went to number 1 in the UK in 1977. … Read More
1978 42 Years Old On January 18, 1978 Orbison underwent a triple coronary bypass. … Read More


1987 51 Years Old 1 More Event
Orbison's career was fully revived in 1987. … Read More
In 1988, he joined the Traveling Wilburys supergroup with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne and also released a new solo album. … Read More
Original Authors of this text are noted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Orbison.
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.