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Roy Orbison's Music
Introduction - Roy Orbison's Music
Roy Orbison's music has had an influence on some of the greatest talents in Rock n Roll music. His music and voice inspired many artists and was admired by his peers.
Leonard Cohen, another singer and song writer of the sixties admired Orbison. In his biography it says, “In rehearsal Cohen would tell the band to ‘make it like Roy Orbison would do it.’ The musicians had a picture of Orbison pasted into their chart folder.”
At one of his concert's Elvis referred to Roy Orbison as the "greatest singer in the world". Elvis and Roy became friends, by the way.
Bob Dylan once wrote, “Orbison transcended all the genres. With Roy, you didn’t know if you were listening to mariachi or opera. He kept you on your toes. [He sang] his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal. His voice could jar a corpse, always leave you muttering to yourself something like, ‘Man, I don’t believe it’. There wasn’t anything else on the radio like him.”
Bruce Springsteen once said he wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. He incorporated Roy Orbison into his song "Thunder Road". He sang, "As the radio plays Roy Orbison singing for the lonely ..."
Even the Beatles were influenced by Roy Orbison.
The list goes on.
Roy Orbison - Career
So who is Roy Orbison? What's that you say, who is Roy Orbison? Everyone knows Roy Orbison, well, at least his music.
Roy Orbison, the legend, was born April 23, 1936 in Texas, and yes, his real name is Roy Orbison. Like many other talents of his era, he began singing in local bands. Anyone from the fifties and sixties remembers singing with a band or just with your friends, trying to duplicate the great sounds you heard on the radio. And, like many singers of that time he cut a record, "Ooby, Dooby". Johnny Cash told him to take the record to a record company, which he did, Sun Records. Things didn't work out to well at Sun and Roy left to become a song-writer. As a matter of fact, while in his song-writing only phase he wrote the song "Claudette" which went on to be a hit for the Everly Brothers.
Through a twist of fate, Roy wound up signing with Monument, to record songs. During that time he continued to write songs and one of the songs he wrote with one Joe Melson went to the top though didn't quite reach number one. It was called, "Only the Lonely".
In 1964 he hit the top with "Pretty Woman". There may be some of you who think the song was written for the movie of the same name, but that is definitely not the case. "Pretty Woman" sold over seven million copies in 1964, JUST 1964, I don't know how many since.
Tragedy struck Roy Orbison in 1966 when his wife, Claudette, was killed in a motor cycle accident and two years later two of his sons were killed in a house fire. In 1969 he married Barbara Jacobs who would later become his manager.
In 1987 Roy Orbison was inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
Roy Orbison's "Its Over"
Roy Orbison Songs
- Ooby Dooby
- Only the Lonely
- Blue Angel
- Running Scared
- Candy Man
- Dream Baby
- Working for the Man
- In Dreams
- Blue Bayou
- Mean Woman Blues
- Pretty Paper
- Its Over
- Pretty Woman
And many more.
Roy Orbison - The Man
One of the mysteries surrounding Roy Orbison was his constant wearing of sunglasses. Some said he wore them because he was blind, others said because he had other problems but the truth is, Roy Orbison had myopia and as a result had to wear very thick glasses. Not what most people thought. The first time he wore sunglasses on stage was when he forgot his reading glasses. He liked the look and continued to wear sunglasses from that day forward. The look fitted his songs. He never danced around the stage or wiggled his hips, he was serious and his songs were touching. The sunglasses added a mystique along with the mystery. You couldn't see his eyes so it was hard to tell what he might be thinking.
His voice was something new to Rock N Roll, he had a high tenor voice and would end his songs on a high note. He had artistic vision and used it in his songs along with emotionally charged words. Nik Dirga wrote in a Roy Orbison CD review, "Roy Orbison was the voice of sorrow. But sorrow never sounded quite so sweet. For nearly 30 years, Orbison was the quintessential spokesman for the brokenhearted, with his trademark sunglasses, hiding his eyes, so all you would focus on was the voice." Roy Orbison's wife, Barbara repeated one of the things Roy said [about him wearing black], "He'd say, 'They need one man to be sad and lonely, and they gave me the crown,'" . Did you know he dyed his hair? It wasn't naturally black but he thought black fit in better with his image.
He was a song-writer par excellence. He wrote songs that told stories. They would take you through an episode from beginning to end. Since I mentioned "Pretty Woman" earlier, let's take a look at that. The song is about a guy who sees a pretty woman walking down the street. This is the "kind I like to meet" he says. He thinks about how good she looks and how he would treat her right. He goes on to tell how it looks like she's walking away from him and though its not what he wants, well, he'll try again tomorrow. But wait, she walks back to him. A short story, but a story nonetheless. A story a lot of guys can relate to.
Speaking of song writing, you now know Roy Orbison wrote "Claudette" for the Everly Brothers but did you know the Everly Brothers wrote "Only the Lonely" for Roy Orbison? Oh the twists in Rock N Roll.
At a time when the British Invasion was wiping out American Rock N Roll singers, Roy Orbison thrived. Not only that, he did a concert tour in England with the Beatles and received top billing during the tour! I might add here, the Beatles are another group that admired Roy Orbison while Roy admired John Lennon.
Roy Orbison was a big fan of radio controlled model airplanes which he flew in competitions. He liked classic cars and he loved movie theaters and watching movies.
We all have friends, but when we think of celebrities we don't always think of them as having friends. Of course being celebrities, it is most likely their friends are too. Buddy Holly was a high school friend of Roy's. Roy was also friends with Ricky Nelson, Otis Redding, and Patsy Cline. More tragedy in an already overloaded life. He was close friends with k.d Lang and Martin Sheehan. If you remember, way back in the beginning of this piece I mentioned how Johnny Cash advised Roy to go to a record company? Well, Roy and Johnny were neighbors and friends. Another unlikely friend of Roy Orbison was Glenn Danzig. As a matter of fact, they wrote a song together in 1987 called "Life Fades Away".
Roy had coronary by-pass surgery in 1978 after collapsing while running up some bleachers. He died at his mother's home in 1988 of a massive heart attack, he was 52. Just before his death he agreed to team up with Bob Dylan, Beatle George Harrison, Jeff Lynne from Electric Light Orchestra and Tom Petty to form a group called The Travelling Wilburys. He was on tour with the group when he died. He is sadly missed but his music will live on for generations. There will never be anyone like Roy Orbison again.
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Roy Orbison - Leah
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