Roy Orbison
American singer-songwriter
Roy Orbison
Roy Kelton Orbison, also known by the nickname The Big O, 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.
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Roy Orbison's personal information overview.
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Celebrating the music of Roy Orbison at Exmouth Pavilion - Exmouth Journal
Google News - over 5 years
Following his untimely death in 1988, the music of Roy Orbison remains as vital as ever. To send a link to this page to a friend, simply enter their email address below. The message will include the name and email address you gave us when you signed up
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Beachbash rocks the prom - The Visitor
Google News - over 5 years
Eddie Robbins as Billy Fury, Yvonne Haylen as Cher and Bob Baxter as Roy Orbison ensured that the large promenade audience had a vast selection of swingin' sixties hits to enjoy in the sunshine on Saturday afternoon. The show moved inside on Sunday as
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Main Events 09/01/11 - Leader-Telegram
Google News - over 5 years
The show also features Roy Orbison, Neil Diamond, Johnny Cash and James Brown impersonators. Reserved seating costs $20 per ticket. All proceeds will benefit the Eau Claire Children's Theatre Fund. Street Level Ministries, a UW-Stout evangelical,
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Damien Leith's tribute to Roy Orbison - Newcastle Herald
Google News - over 5 years
WHEN singer Damien Leith was told that Roy Orbison's widow, Barbara, was on the phone, he thought it was a joke. It was during the 2006 season of Australian Idol, a day or two after Leith had performed the Orbison classic Crying
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Fringe Review: My Brother Sang Like Roy Orbison (4 stars) - Edmonton Journal
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Randy Rutherford stars in My Brother Sang Like Roy Orbison, playing at the Edmonton Fringe Festival. San Francisco's Randy Rutherford has such an easy, unforced, casual way about him that you
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Marshall Grant, 83, Bassist Behind Johnny Cash's Sound
NYTimes - over 5 years
Marshall Grant, a bass player who, as an original member of Johnny Cash's band, the Tennessee Two, helped create the group's pulsing ''boom-chicka-boom'' sound, died on Sunday in Jonesboro, Ark. He was 83. His death was confirmed by the Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery in Memphis. Mr. Grant, who lived in Hernando, Miss., was in Jonesboro for
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Marshall Grant, Bass Player With Johnny Cash, Dies at 83
NYTimes - over 5 years
Marshall Grant, a bass player who, as an original member of Johnny Cash ’s band, the Tennessee Two, helped create the group’s pulsing “boom-chicka-boom” sound, died on Sunday in Jonesboro, Ark. He was 83. His death was confirmed by the Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery in Memphis. Mr. Grant, who lived in Hernando,
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Roy Orbison tribute at park Sunday - Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror
Google News - over 5 years
Mark Barnett and the Black and White Knights will present a stunning tribute to the great Roy Orbison on Sunday, July 31, at the Yucaipa Community Park in the amphitheater as part of the Concert in the Park series. This is an incredible journey back in
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Damien Leith - Celebrity AFL tipster - ABC Online (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
His Roy Orbison tribute album "Roy" has been in the charts for months. Damien tips: Carlton, West Coast, Geelong, St Kilda, Fremantle, Collingwood and Port Adelaide. You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post
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Stories are personal for Rutherford - StarPhoenix
Google News - over 5 years
On his fourth visit, he brings his most requested show, My Brother Sang Like Roy Orbison (Victoria School Gym). It's a pre-Vietnan reminiscence of his early manhood, cruising town in a red Corvette with his beloved older stepbrother
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In rotation: Roy Orbison's 'The Monument Singles Collection: 1960-1964' - Los Angeles Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Oh! But out of such sadness comes Roy Orbison to manifest our heartbreak, to engulf our sorrow in rose petals, to comfort us. “The Monument Singles Collection: 1960-1964” is an essential document, one that deserves a spot in what remains of your CD
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Roy Orbison
    TEENAGE
  • 1988
    After attending a show in 1988, Peter Watrous of The New York Times wrote that Orbison's songs are "dreamlike claustrophobically intimate set pieces".
    More Details Hide Details Music critic Ken Emerson writes that the "apocalyptic romanticism" in Orbison's music was well-crafted for the films his songs appeared in the 1980s because the music was "so over-the-top that dreams become delusions, and self-pity paranoia", striking "a postmodern nerve". Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant favored American R&B music as a youth, but beyond the black musicians, he named Elvis and Orbison especially as foreshadowing the emotions he would experience: "The poignancy of the combination of lyric and voice was stunning. Orbison used drama to great effect and he wrote dramatically." The loneliness in Orbison's songs that he became most famous for, he both explained and downplayed: "I don't think I've been any more lonely than anyone else... Although if you grow up in West Texas, there are a lot of ways to be lonely." His music offered an alternative to the postured masculinity that was pervasive in music and culture. Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees stated, "He made emotion fashionable, that it was all right to talk about and sing about very emotional things. For men to sing about very emotional things... Before that no one would do it." Orbison acknowledged this in looking back on the era in which he became popular: "When "Crying" came out I don't think anyone had accepted the fact that a man should cry when he wants to cry." Peter Lehman, on the other hand, considered Orbison's theme of constant vulnerability an element of sexual masochism.
    He told Rolling Stone in 1988, "I liked the sound of voice.
    More Details Hide Details I liked making it sing, making the voice ring, and I just kept doing it. And I think that somewhere between the time of "Ooby Dooby" and "Only the Lonely", it kind of turned into a good voice." Instantly Orbison was in high demand. He appeared on American Bandstand and toured the U.S. for three months non-stop with Patsy Cline. When Presley heard "Only the Lonely" for the first time, he bought a box of copies to pass to his friends. Melson and Orbison followed it with the more complex "Blue Angel", which peaked at number nine in the U.S. and number 11 in the UK. "I'm Hurtin'", with "I Can't Stop Loving You" as the B-side, rose to number 27 in the U.S. but failed to chart in the UK.
    In 1988, he was a member of the Traveling Wilburys supergroup, along with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne.
    More Details Hide Details He recorded his last solo album, Mystery Girl, the same year but died of a heart attack shortly thereafter. While most male rock and roll performers in the 1950s and 1960s projected a defiant masculinity, many of Orbison's songs instead conveyed a quiet, almost desperate, vulnerability. His voice ranged from baritone to tenor, and music scholars have suggested that he had a three- or four-octave range. During performances, he was known for standing still and solitary, and for wearing black clothes and dark sunglasses, which lent an air of mystery to his persona. His honors include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in the same year, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1989. Rolling Stone placed him at number 37 on their list of the "Greatest Artists of All Time" and number 13 on their list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time'. In 2002, Billboard magazine listed Orbison at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists. In 2014, Orbison was elected to America's Pop Music Hall of Fame.
  • 1987
    In 1987, Orbison had begun collaborating with Electric Light Orchestra frontman Jeff Lynne on a new album.
    More Details Hide Details At the same time Lynne was completing production work on George Harrison's Cloud Nine, and all three had lunch one day when Orbison accepted an invitation to sing on a song of Harrison's. They contacted Bob Dylan, who allowed them to use a recording studio in his home. Along the way, Harrison had to stop by Tom Petty's house to pick up his guitar; Petty and his band had backed Dylan on his last tour. By that evening, the group had written "Handle with Care", which led to the concept of recording an entire album. They called themselves the Traveling Wilburys, representing themselves as half-brothers with the same father. They gave themselves stage names; Orbison chose his from his musical hero, calling himself "Lefty Wilbury" after Lefty Frizzell. Expanding on the concept of a traveling band of raucous musicians, Orbison offered a quote about the group's foundation in honor: "Some people say Daddy was a cad and a bounder. I remember him as a Baptist minister."
    Also in 1987, Orbison was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Bruce Springsteen, who concluded his speech with a reference to his own album "Born to Run": "I wanted a record with words like Bob Dylan that sounded like Phil Spector — but, most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison.
    More Details Hide Details Now, everyone knows that no one sings like Roy Orbison." In response, Orbison asked Springsteen for a copy of the speech, and said of his induction that he felt "validated" by the honor. A few months later, Orbison and Springsteen paired again to film a concert at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles. They were joined by Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, James Burton and k.d. lang. Lang later recounted how humbled Orbison had been by the show of support from so many talented and busy musicians: "Roy looked at all of us and said, 'If there is anything I can ever do for you, please call on me'. He was very serious. It was his way of thanking us. It was very emotional." The concert was filmed in one take and aired on Cinemax under the title Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night; it was released on video by Virgin Records, selling 50,000 copies.
    Orbison's career was fully revived in 1987.
    More Details Hide Details He released an album of his re-recorded hits, titled In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. A song he recorded, "Life Fades Away", written with his friend Glenn Danzig, was featured in the film Less Than Zero. He and k.d. lang performed a duet of "Crying" and released it on the soundtrack to Hiding Out, winning a Grammy for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. However, one film in which Orbison refused to allow his music to be used was Blue Velvet. Director David Lynch asked to use "In Dreams", and Orbison turned him down. Lynch used it anyway. The song served as one of several obsessions of a psychopathic character named Frank Booth (played by Dennis Hopper). It was lip-synched by an effeminate drug dealer played by Dean Stockwell, after which Booth demanded the song be played over and over, once beating the protagonist while the song played. During filming, Lynch asked for the song to be played repeatedly to give the set a surreal atmosphere. Orbison was initially shocked at its use: he saw the film in a theater in Malibu and later said, "I was mortified because they were talking about the 'candy colored clown' in relation to a dope deal... I thought, 'What in the world?' But later, when I was touring, we got the video out and I really got to appreciate what David gave to the song, and what the song gave to the movie—how it achieved this otherworldly quality that added a whole new dimension to 'In Dreams'."
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1978
    In 1978, Orbison signed with Asylum and released one album a year later.
    More Details Hide Details In 1980, Don McLean covered "Crying" in a version which hit number 5 in the U.S. and stayed on the charts for 15 weeks; it was number 1 in the UK for three weeks, and also topped the Irish Charts. Although he was all but forgotten in the U.S., Orbison took a chance and embarked on a tour of Bulgaria. He was astonished to find he was as popular there as he had been in 1964; he was forced to stay in his hotel room because he was mobbed on the streets of Sofia. Later that year, he and Emmylou Harris won a Grammy Award for their duet "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again" (from the comedy film Roadie, in which Orbison also had a cameo role). It was his first such award, and he felt more than ever that the time was ripe for his full return to popular music. However, it would be several more years until this came to fruition.
    On January 18, 1978, Orbison underwent a triple coronary bypass.
    More Details Hide Details He had suffered from duodenal ulcers as early as 1960 and had been a heavy smoker since adolescence. He felt revitalized following the triple bypass, but he continued to smoke, and his weight fluctuated for the rest of his life. When Orbison felt strong enough to perform again, Scott Mathews took him into the recording studio and produced a version of "Oh, Pretty Woman" for a national radio and television advertising campaign for Tone Soap, a woman's beauty bar. This proved to be a much needed financial windfall for Orbison, as Mathews saw to it that the company paid well to license the use of Orbison's original composition and for Orbison's services.
  • 1977
    In late 1977 Orbison started feeling unwell and decided to take a holiday in Hawaii to rest.
    More Details Hide Details While there he was admitted to hospital, and tests revealed three of his coronary arteries were severely clogged.
  • 1976
    He signed again with Monument in 1976 recorded "Regeneration" with Fred Foster.
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    A compilation LP of Orbison's greatest hits went to number 1 in the UK in January 1976.
    More Details Hide Details The same year he began to open concerts for the Eagles, who started as Linda Ronstadt's backup band. Ronstadt herself covered "Blue Bayou" in 1977, her version reaching number 3 on the Billboard charts and remaining in the charts for 24 weeks. Orbison credited this cover in particular for reviving his memory in the popular mind, if not his career.
  • 1974
    He then signed with Mercury in 1974 and only recorded an album there which only got a US Release.
    More Details Hide Details Author Peter Lehman would later observe that his absence was a part of the mystery of his persona: "Since it was never clear where he had come from, no one seemed to pay much mind to where he had gone; he was just gone." His influence was apparent, however, as several artists released covers of his songs, which proved popular. Orbison's version of "Love Hurts", a song composed by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and first recorded by the Everly Brothers, was remade by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and again by hard rock band Nazareth. Sonny James sent "Only the Lonely" to number 1 on the country music charts. Bruce Springsteen ended his concerts with Orbison songs, and Glen Campbell had a minor hit with a remake of "Dream Baby".
  • 1973
    He left MGM in 1973 after certain albums were not coming out globally.
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  • 1969
    In 1969, Orbison recorded an album which was related to the tragedy, but, after contractual disputes with MGM, it was shelved and went unheard until 2015.
    More Details Hide Details Orbison recorded in the 1970s, but his albums performed so poorly that he began to doubt his talents.
    On March 25, 1969, Orbison married German teenager Barbara Jakobs, whom he had met several days before his sons' deaths.
    More Details Hide Details 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.
  • OTHER
  • 1966
    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.
    More Details Hide Details She struck the door of a pickup truck which had pulled out in front of her on South Waters Avenue in Gallatin, Tennessee, and died instantly. A grieving Orbison threw himself into his work, collaborating with Bill Dees to write music for The Fastest Guitar Alive, a film that MGM had scheduled for him to star in as well. It was initially planned as a dramatic Western but was rewritten as a comedy. Orbison's character was a spy who stole and had to protect and deliver a cache of gold to the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and was outfitted with a guitar that turned into a rifle. The prop allowed him to deliver the line "I could kill you with this and play your funeral march at the same time", with—according to biographer Colin Escott—"zero conviction". Orbison was pleased with the film, although it proved to be a critical and box office flop. While MGM had included five films in his contract, no more were made.
  • 1965
    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.
    More Details Hide Details His reconciliation with Claudette occurred when she went to visit him while he was recuperating from the accident. Orbison was fascinated with machines. He was known to follow a car that he liked and make the driver an offer on the spot. He had a collection worthy of a museum by the late 1960s.
    His contract with Monument was expiring in June 1965.
    More Details Hide Details Wesley Rose, at this time acting as Orbison's agent, moved him from Monument Records to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (though in the UK he remained with Decca's London Records) for a million dollars, and the understanding that he would expand into television and films, as Elvis Presley had done. Orbison was a film enthusiast and, when not touring, writing or recording, would dedicate time to seeing up to three films a day. Rose also became Orbison's producer, Fred Foster later suggesting that Rose's takeover was responsible for the commercial failure of Orbison's work at MGM. Engineer Bill Porter agreed that Orbison's best work could only be achieved with RCA Nashville's A-Team. Orbison's first collection at MGM, an album titled There Is Only One Roy Orbison, sold fewer than 200,000 copies. The British Invasion also occurred at the same time, changing the direction of rock music significantly.
  • 1964
    He and Claudette divorced in November 1964 over her infidelities, though they remarried in August 1965.
    More Details Hide Details
    He did it twice, with 'It's Over' on June 25, 1964, and 'Oh, Pretty Woman' on October 8, 1964.
    More Details Hide Details The latter song also went to number one in America, making Orbison impervious to the current chart dominance of British artists on both sides of the Atlantic." "Oh, Pretty Woman" proved the pinnacle of Orbison's career in the 1960s. Following its release, he endured some upheavals.
  • 1963
    Orbison's success was greater in Britain; as Billboard magazine noted, "In a 68-week period that began on August 8, 1963, Roy Orbison was the only American artist to have a number-one single in Britain.
    More Details Hide Details
    When Orbison toured Britain again in the fall of 1963, she joined him.
    More Details Hide Details He was immensely popular wherever he went, finishing the tour in Ireland and Canada. Almost immediately he toured Australia and New Zealand with the Beach Boys and returned again to Britain and Ireland, where he was so besieged by teenage girls that the Irish police had to halt his performances to pull the girls off him. He continued to tour, traveling to Australia again, this time with the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger later remarked, referring to a snapshot he took of Orbison in New Zealand, "a fine figure of a man in the hot springs, he was." Orbison also began collaborating with Bill Dees, whom he had known in Texas. With Dees, he wrote "It's Over", a number one in the UK, and a song that would be one of his signature pieces for the rest of his career. When Claudette walked in the room where Dees and Orbison were writing to say she was heading for Nashville, Orbison asked if she had any money. Dees said, "A pretty woman never needs any money". Just 40 minutes later, "Oh, Pretty Woman" was completed. A riff-laden masterpiece that employed a playful growl he got from a Bob Hope movie, the epithet "mercy" Orbison uttered when he was unable to hit a note, and a merging of his vulnerable and masculine sides, it rose to number one in the fall of 1964 in the U.S. and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks.
    Touring in 1963 took a toll on Orbison's personal life.
    More Details Hide Details His wife Claudette began having an affair with the contractor who built their home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Friends and relatives attributed the breakdown of the marriage to her youth and her inability to withstand being alone and bored.
    As "In Dreams" was released in April 1963, Orbison was asked to replace guitarist Duane Eddy on a tour of the UK in top billing with the Beatles, whose popularity was on the rise.
    More Details Hide Details When he arrived in Britain, however, he saw the amount of advertising devoted to the quartet and realized he was no longer the main draw. He had never heard of them and, annoyed, asked hypothetically, "What's a Beatle anyway?" to which John Lennon replied, after tapping his shoulder, "I am". On the opening night, Orbison opted to go onstage first, although he was the more established act. Known for having raucous shows expressing an extraordinary amount of energy, Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr stood dumbfounded backstage as Orbison performed completely still and simply sang through fourteen encores. Finally, when the audience began chanting "We want Roy!" again, Lennon and McCartney prevented Orbison from going on again by physically holding him back. Starr later said, "In Glasgow, we were all backstage listening to the tremendous applause he was getting. He was just standing there, not moving or anything." Through the tour, however, the two acts quickly learned to get along, a process made easier by the fact that the Beatles admired his work. Orbison felt a kinship with Lennon, but it was Harrison with whom he would later form a strong friendship.
    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).
    More Details Hide Details He finished the year with a Christmas song written by Willie Nelson titled "Pretty Paper" (U.S. number 15 in 1963/UK number 6 in 1964).
  • 1962
    After leaving his thick eyeglasses on an airplane in 1962 or 1963, Orbison was forced to wear his prescription Wayfarer sunglasses on stage and found that he preferred them.
    More Details Hide Details His biographers suggest that although he had a good sense of humor and was never morose, Orbison was very shy and suffered from severe stage fright; wearing sunglasses helped him hide somewhat from the attention. The ever-present sunglasses led some people to assume, then and now, that the stationary performer was blind. The black clothes and desperation in his songs led to an aura of mystery and introversion. Years later Orbison said, "I wasn't trying to be weird, you know? I didn't have a manager who told me to dress or how to present myself or anything. But the image developed of a man of mystery and a quiet man in black somewhat of a recluse, although I never was, really." His dark and brooding persona, combined with his tremulous voice in lovelorn ballads marketed to teenagers, helped Orbison major in the pop market in the early 1960s.
    Also in 1962, he charted with "The Crowd", "Leah" and "Workin' For the Man", which he wrote about working one summer in the oil fields near Wink.
    More Details Hide Details His relationship with Joe Melson, however, was deteriorating over Melson's growing concerns that his own solo career would never get off the ground. Lacking the photogenic looks of many of his rock and roll contemporaries, Orbison eventually developed a persona that did not reflect his personality. He had no publicist in the early 1960s, no presence in fan magazines, and his single sleeves did not feature his picture. Life magazine called him an "anonymous celebrity".
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Orbison's second son was born the same year, and Orbison hit number four in the U.S. and number two in the UK with "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream?)", an upbeat song by country songwriter Cindy Walker. (Orbison's producer would later form the Candymen quintet, which was Orbison's backing band from 1965 to 1970, while releasing a few singles and two albums of their own).
  • 1961
    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.
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  • 1960
    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.
    More Details Hide Details It also featured a note hit by Orbison in falsetto that showcased a powerful voice which, according to biographer Clayson, "came not from his throat but deeper within". The song was "Only the Lonely". Orbison and Melson tried to sell it to Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers but were turned down. They instead recorded the song at RCA's Nashville studio, with sound engineer Bill Porter trying a completely new strategy: building the mix from the top down rather than from the bottom up, beginning with close-miked backing vocals in the foreground, and ending with the rhythm section soft in the background. This combination became Orbison's trademark sound. The single shot to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit number one in the UK and Australia. According to Orbison, the subsequent songs he wrote with Melson during this period were constructed with his voice in mind, specifically to showcase its range and power.
  • 1958
    In three recording sessions in 1958 and 1959, Orbison and Melson recorded seven songs at RCA Nashville, with Atkins producing, but only two were judged worthy of release by RCA; Wesley Rose brought Orbison to the attention of producer Fred Foster at Monument Records.
    More Details Hide Details Orbison was one of the first recording artists to popularize the "Nashville sound", doing so with a group of session musicians known as the A-Team: guitarists Grady Martin, Harold Bradley, Fred Carter, Jr., Ray Edenton and bassist Bob Moore; pianists Floyd Cramer or Hargus "Pig" Robbins; drummer Buddy Harman; and backup vocals by the Jordanaires or the Anita Kerr Singers. The Nashville sound was developed by producers Chet Atkins, Owen Bradley (who worked closely with Patsy Cline), Sam Phillips and Fred Foster. In his first session for Monument in Nashville, Orbison recorded a song that RCA had refused, "Paper Boy", backed by "With the Bug", but neither charted. According to musician and author Albin Zak, the studio (with sound engineer Bill Porter, who experimented with close miking the doo-wop backing singers), the production by Foster, and the accompanying musicians gave Orbison's music a "polished, professional sound... finally allowing Orbison's stylistic inclinations free rein". To augment the Nashville sound, Orbison requested a string section in the studio. With this combination, he recorded three new songs, the most notable of which was "Uptown", written with Joe Melson. Impressed with the results, Melson later recalled, "We stood in the studio, listening to the playbacks, and thought it was the most beautiful sound in the world." The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll states that the music Orbison made in Nashville "brought a new splendor to rock", and compared the melodramatic effects of the orchestral accompaniment to the musical productions of Phil Spector.
    Songwriter Joe Melson, an acquaintance of Orbison's, tapped on his car window one day in Texas in 1958, and the two decided to try to write some songs together.
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    He toured music circuits around Texas, and then quit performing for seven months in 1958.
    More Details Hide Details In dire financial straits, his car repossessed, he turned to family and friends for funds. For a brief period in the late 1950s Orbison made his living at Acuff-Rose, a songwriting firm concentrating mainly on country music. After spending an entire day writing a song, he would make several demo tapes at a time and send them to Wesley Rose, who would try to find musical acts to record them. Orbison attempted to sell to RCA Victor his recordings of songs by other writers, working with, and being in awe of, Chet Atkins, who had played guitar with Presley. One song he tried was "Seems to Me" by Boudleaux Bryant. Bryant's impression of Orbison was of "a timid, shy kid who seemed to be rather befuddled by the whole music scene. I remember the way he sang then — softly, prettily but almost bashfully, as if someone might be disturbed by his efforts and reprimand him."
  • 1957
    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".
    More Details Hide Details The first, and perhaps only, royalties Orbison earned from Sun Records enabled him to make a down-payment on his own Cadillac. Increasingly frustrated at Sun, he gradually stopped recording.
  • 1955
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Orbison telephoned Phillips and during their conversation was curtly told, "Johnny Cash doesn't run my record company!" While at North Texas State College he was persuaded to listen to a song called "Ooby Dooby", composed by Dick Penner and Wade Moore in mere minutes atop a fraternity house at the college. The Teen Kings recorded the song on the Odessa-based Je–Wel record label. Phillips was impressed and offered the Teen Kings a contract in 1956. The Teen Kings went to Sun Studio in Memphis, where Phillips wanted to record "Ooby Dooby" again, in his superior studio. Orbison had grown weary of the song and rankled quietly as Phillips dictated what the band would play and how he was to sing it. With Phillips's production, however, the record broke into the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 59 and selling 200,000 copies. The Teen Kings toured with Sonny James, Johnny Horton, Carl Perkins, and Cash. Much influenced by Elvis Presley, Orbison performed frenetically, doing "everything we could to get applause because we had only one hit record". The Teen Kings also began writing songs in a rockabilly style, including "Go! Go! Go! " and "Rockhouse". The band ultimately split over disputed writing credits and royalties, but Orbison stayed in Memphis and asked his 16-year-old girlfriend, Claudette Frady, to join him there. They stayed in Phillips's home, sleeping in separate rooms.
  • 1936
    Born on April 23, 1936.
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