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Roy Orbison

Although he shared the same rockabilly roots as Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison went on to pioneer an entirely different brand of country/pop-based rock & roll in the early '60s. What he lacked in charisma and photogenic looks, Orbison made up for in spades with his quavering operatic voice and melodramatic narratives of unrequited love and yearning. In the process, he established rock & roll archetypes of the underdog and the hopelessly romantic loser. These were not only amplified by peers such as Del Shannon and Gene Pitney, but also influenced future generations of roots rockers such as Bruce Springsteen and Chris Isaak, as well as modern country stars the Mavericks.

Orbison made his first widely distributed recordings for Sun Records in 1956. Roy was a capable rockabilly singer, and had a small national hit with his first Sun single, "Ooby Dooby." But even then, he was far more comfortable as a ballad singer than as a hepped-up rockabilly jive cat. Other Sun singles met with no success, and by the late '50s he was concentrating primarily on building a career as a songwriter, his biggest early success being "Claudette" (recorded by the Everly Brothers).

After a brief, unsuccessful stint with RCA, Orbison finally found his voice with Monument Records, scoring a number-two hit in 1960 with "Only the Lonely." This established the Roy Orbison persona for good: a brooding rockaballad of failed love with a sweet, haunting melody, enhanced by his Caruso-like vocal trills at the song's emotional climax. These and his subsequent Monument hits also boasted innovative, quasi-symphonic production, with Roy's voice and guitar backed by surging strings, ominous drum rolls, and heavenly choirs of backup vocalists.

Between 1960 and 1965, Orbison would have 15 Top 40 hits for Monument, including such nail-biting mini-dramas as "Running Scared," "Crying," "In Dreams," and "It's Over." Not just a singer of tear-jerking ballads, he was also capable of effecting a tough, bluesy swagger on "Dream Baby," "Candy Man," and "Mean Woman Blues." In fact, his biggest and best hit was also his hardest-rocking: "Oh, Pretty Woman" soared to number one in late 1964, at the peak of the British Invasion.

It seemed at that time that Roy was well-equipped to survive the British onslaught of the mid-'60s. He had even toured with the Beatles in Britain in 1963, and John Lennon has admitted to trying to emulate Orbison when writing the Beatles' first British chart-topper, "Please Please Me." But Orbison's fortunes declined rapidly after he left Monument for MGM in 1965. It would be easy to say that the major label couldn't replicate the unique production values of the classic Monument singles, but that's only part of the story. Roy, after all, was still writing most of his material, and his early MGM records were produced in a style that closely approximated the Monument era. The harder truth to face was that his songs were starting to sound like lesser variations of themselves, and that contemporary trends in rock and soul were making him sound outdated.

Orbison, like many early rock greats, could always depend on large overseas audiences to pay the bills. The two decades between the mid-'60s and mid-'80s were undeniably tough ones for him, though, both personally and professionally. A late-'60s stab at acting failed miserably. In 1966, his wife died in a motorcycle accident; a couple of years later, his house burned down, two of his sons perishing in the flames. Periodic comeback attempts with desultory albums in the 1970s came to naught.

Orbison's return to the public eye came about through unexpected circumstances. In the mid-'80s, David Lynch's Blue Velvet film prominently featured "In Dreams" on its soundtrack. That led to the singer making an entire album of re-recordings of hits, with T-Bone Burnett acting as producer. The record was no substitute for the originals, but it did help restore him to prominence within the industry. Shortly afterward, he joined George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne in the Traveling Wilburys. Their successful album set the stage for Orbison's best album in over 20 years, Mystery Girl, which emulated the sound of his classic '60s work without sounding hackneyed. By the time it reached the charts in early 1989, however, Orbison was dead, claimed by a heart attack in December 1988. ~ Richie Unterberger, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Live From The Fiesta Club

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4

Comments

The best of the best. Roy RIP !!
RXthe best
The best of all
Roy Orbison
Epics.!! Orbison created lifetime Epics..
That is the word from KD who was one his chosen backup singers
So true so pure, so Magnificent
Moments from the human lifetime experiences
I so loved --and still do--Roy's music that I changed my first name to Shahdaroba.
RIP ROY!!!!!!
jtny786
Late, late, late in discovering Mr. Roy Orbison! What a shame, but better late than never. So fabulous. I have not heard a bad track yet. All beautiful, Dream Baby, It's Over, Pretty Woman! Yes, indeed.
the real KING of rock & roll, elvis just covered other folks. Roy wrote his stuff , as well as the best voice in the biz..
Love his songs
Roy 'roy orbißon
I like it
I love all the grate artist.
twister11261 9 6 7
mdj. Love his music
RIP Roy!!!!!!
Roy orbison
roy
the voice...
pretty woman
Roy Orbison had to be by far, one of the best singers of all time. Thanks for the great music & even better the memories!!!
Best concert i have ever seen..they wouldnt let him off the stage..great e s t singer ever,I listen to him most everyday...R I P . . .
I love dancing to his song
God.I love this song
twister11261 9 6 7
Maurnice I

I love dancing to his songs.
Man, could this man sing! The best voice in rock an roll. Wrote some great songs too. Love his music.
marvins39
sorry anna, it was after a concert in ohio. he did have a perfect singing voice,
He had a heart attack while making the second album of the Traveling Wilburys
Elvis Presley said and I quote " Roy Orbison has the perfect singing voice" unquote so what left is there to say?
dumb and dumber lol
marvins39
he died of a heart attack after a concert in ohio. there's a cd called the last concert. like everything else he did, it is great!!
thiffaultvic t o r
Roy was the best all around vocalist of his time.
The pride of Wink, Texas. 5 octive voice, amazing
I was in my teen and remember buying his LP with some money I had saved up, and played that record over and over and the rest is history.
He was one of my favorites, loved his style.
brianearp4
I believe Roy Boy, would have knocked Elvis from the top had he not passed on. Never forgotten
dburchell80
He died of lung cancer you are thinking of the big bopper and buddy holly
He died in a plane crash!
Never saw him live, but followed everything he ever did. He inspired my dreams!
Saw him, live under the stars at the outdoor amphiteather in Miami's Bayfront Park, that day was his birthday. Roy was given a birthday cake and everyone sang happy birthday . Awesome performance! Really magical night!
twyaran
Los compadres
Pretty women
You have the wrong lyrics,
Get got it
Always love my Orbison!!!!!
Don't read this because it actually works. You
will be kissed by the love of your life on the
nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.
Tomorrow will be the best day of your life.
However if you don't post this you will die in 2
days. Now you've started reading so don't stop.
This is so scary put this on 5 songs in 143
minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's
name will come on the screen in big letters.
This is so scary because it actually works
jamesgnostic 7 7 7
Don't read this because it actually works. You
will be kissed by the love of your life on the
nearest possible Friday by the love of your life.
Tomorrow will be the best day of your life.
However if you don't post this you will die in 2
days. Now you've started reading so don't stop.
This is so scary put this on 5 songs in 143
minutes. When done press f6 and your lover's
name will come on the screen in big letters.
This is so scary because it actually works
Hey Handjlandgra f 6 look I'm sorry that your kids died
I alway refer to "in Dreams" to my loved ones who have went to heaven. I dream about them all of the time and this is the only way that I can be with them again.
best song is in dreams it was wirtten by roy after he lost his wife in bike accident, just listen to the words. sad life, he then lost 2 little boys in fire
dy7005
What?
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