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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
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: I Can't Stop Loving You

1. Oh, Pretty Woman

2. Crying

3. Love Hurts

5. I Can't Stop Loving You

6. Shahdaroba

7. Distant Drums

8. Beautiful Dreamer

9. Only With You

10. Sleepy Hollow

11. The Actress

12. Yo Te Amo Maria

x

Track List: Orby Records Spotlights Roy Orbison

1. Ooby Dooby

2. Trying To Get To You

3. Go Go Go (Down The Line)

4. Sweet And Easy To Love

5. You're My Baby

6. Fools Hall Of Fame

7. It's Too Late

8. Domino

9. Chicken Hearted

10. I Never Knew

11. The Cause Of It All

13. A True Love Goodbye

14. Claudette

x

Track List: Live From The Fiesta Club

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4
x

Track List: Hits! Hits! Hits!

1. Ooby Dooby

2. Only The Lonely

3. Working For The Man

4. Running Scared

5. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)

6. Crying

7. Claudette

8. In Dreams

9. Blue Bayou

10. It's Over

11. Oh, Pretty Woman

12. Go! Go! Go!

x

Track List: The Complete Sun Sessions

1. Oooby Dooby

2. Go! Go! Go!

3. Trying To Get To You

4. You're My Baby

5. Rock House

6. Sweet And Easy To Love

7. Devil Doll

8. Fools Hall Of Fame

9. A True Love Goodbye

10. Chicken-Hearted

11. I Like Love

12. Mean Little Mama

13. Problem Child

16. I Give Up

19. The Clown

20. Claudette

21. I Was A Fool

22. The Cause Of It All

23. You're Gonna Cry

24. This Kind Of Love

25. It's Too Late

26. I Never Knew

x

Track List: The Anthology

1. You Got It

2. Walk On

4. Crying

5. Oh, Pretty Woman

6. Running Scared

7. Ooby Dooby

8. Only The Lonely

9. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)

10. Pretty Paper

11. It's Over

12. Blue Bayou

13. In Dreams

x

Track List: 16 Biggest Hits

1. Only The Lonely

2. Blue Angel

3. I'm Hurtin'

4. Running Scared

5. Crying

6. Candy Man

7. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)

8. The Crowd

9. Leah

10. Working For The Man

11. In Dreams

12. Falling

13. Mean Woman Blues

14. Blue Bayou

15. It's Over

16. Oh, Pretty Woman

x

Track List: Black & White Night

1. Only The Lonely (Live)

2. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream) (Live)

3. Blue Bayou (Live)

4. The Comedians (Live)

5. Ooby Dooby (Live)

6. Leah (Live)

7. Running Scared (Live)

8. Uptown (Live)

9. In Dreams (Live)

10. Crying (Live)

11. Candy Man (Live)

12. Go, Go, Go (Down The Line) (Live)

13. Mean Woman Blues (Live)

14. (All I Can Do Is) Dream You (Live)

15. Claudette (Live)

16. It's Over (Live)

17. Oh, Pretty Woman

x

Track List: Mystery Girl

1. You Got It

2. In The Real World

4. A Love So Beautiful

5. California Blue

6. She's A Mystery To Me

7. The Comedians

8. The Only One

9. Windsurfer

10. Careless Heart

x

Track List: The Legendary Roy Orbison

Disc 1

1. Tryin' To Get To You

2. Oooby Dooby

3. Go, Go, Go

4. Rock House

5. You're My Baby

6. Devil Doll

7. Claudette

9. Sweet And Innocent

10. Almost Eighteen

12. I'll Never Tell

13. With The Bug

14. Paper Boy

15. Uptown

16. Pretty One

17. Only The Lonely

18. Here Comes That Song Again

19. Blue Angel

Disc 2

1. Today's Teardrops

2. I'm Hurtin'

3. I Can't Stop Loving You

4. Running Scared

5. Love Hurts

6. Crying

7. Candy Man

8. Dream Baby

9. The Actress

10. The Crowd

11. Mama

12. Working For The Man

13. Leah

14. In Dreams

15. Shahdaroba

16. Falling

17. Distant Drums

18. Blue Bayou

19. Mean Woman Blues

Disc 3

1. Pretty Paper

2. Beautiful Dreamer

3. It's Over

4. Indian Wedding

5. Oh, Pretty Woman

6. Yo Te, Amo Maria

7. Goodnight

8. Only With You

9. Say You're My Girl

10. Sleepy Hollow

11. Let The Good Times Roll

12. Lana

16. (I'm A) Southern Man

17. Born To Love Me

19. Under Suspicion

Disc 4

1. Ride Away

2. Crawling Back

3. Breakin' Up Is Breakin' My Heart

4. Cry Softly Lonely One

5. Borne On The Wind

8. (They Call You) Gigolette

9. Dance

14. The Fastest Guitar Alive

15. So Young

x

Track List: The All-Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison

1. Only The Lonely

2. Leah

3. In Dreams

4. Uptown

5. It's Over

6. Crying

7. Dream Baby

8. Blue Angel

9. Working For The Man

10. Candy Man

11. Running Scared

12. Falling

13. Love Hurts

14. Shahdaroba

15. I'm Hurtin'

16. Mean Woman Blues

17. Pretty Paper

18. The Crowd

19. Blue Bayou

20. Oh Pretty Woman

x

Track List: In Dreams

1. In Dreams

2. Lonely Wine

3. Shahdaroba

4. No One Will Ever Know

5. Sunset

6. House Without Windows

7. Dream

8. Blue Bayou

9. (They Call You) Gigolette

10. All I Have To Do Is Dream

11. Beautiful Dreamer

12. My Prayer

13. Falling

14. Distant Drums

15. Mean Woman Blues

16. Pretty Paper

x

Track List: Crying

1. Crying

2. The Great Pretender

3. Love Hurts

4. She Wears My Ring

5. Wedding Day

6. Summer Song

7. Dance

8. Lana

9. Loneliness

10. Let's Make A Memory

11. Nite Life

12. Running Scared

13. Candy Man

14. Let The Good Times Roll

15. Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)

16. The Actress

x

Track List: Live At Austin City Limits

Comments

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THE...greate s t singer in...ALL...o f rock n roll !!!
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Roy the big o.was my favorite singer I used to try to sing like him.dream on.R.I. P
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I want to look pretty for my love I will stay with you be mine tonight it's OK I'm coming to you back to you Mimi Mike
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He gave us so much. And he lost so much. What great songs
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Awesome
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monga76
There will never be any more like Roy Orbison. Just listen and love these great artists.....
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Love all the oldies
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Fav
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Roy Orbison, what a very unique & distinct voice. Very soothing. Thank you for the great music & memories!! RIP
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I love Roy Orbison so much and I'm only 16
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I love c and w music especially Conway twitty jim reeves
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country and Western
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He's has a very sect voice
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I love Elves ������������
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It is me Greenlee and Roy Orbison is my cousin ��
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elliecupcake 2 0 1 5
Me to!!!
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What a wonderful song always takes me back to happier times in love
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elliecupcake 2 0 1 5
I don't want to dream anymore!!���
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Damn Talented and no ego!
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He puts Elvis to shame. A writer, singer, and player all in one short lived package.
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1.hnplr73
The first time I heard Mr.Orbison's music, I was completely awe-struck. His high range with a most secure vibrato and sincerity in his songs certainly set him (in my opinion) far above his contemporari e s & many, many since his earthly death. I believe the genuine feelings that he instilled in each of his songs will still live forever!!! --- & and will be inspiration for numerous vocalists as well.
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ritaw40
I saw Roy in concert with other artists several times in high school put on by a local radio station. He was great then and still love to hear him. My mother loved Pretty Woman. I took her to see one of his concerts shortly before he died.
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The real king of rock and roll
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I am a New Mexico high school graduate of 1966. There was no other voice like his. Always on the juke box at the Youth Center. He was my favorite and still is my favorite. A legend with an unexplainabl e voice! It is sad to think of all of the hardships he endured while still producing heart-wrench i n g and beautiful songs. Always will love him. Can't wait to hear him in the heavenly choir. It will be even more fabulous! Love you Roy O!!! Thanks for your wonderful songs!
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World's Greatest Singer...
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My grandmother likes this movie .
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Roy was an original talent who can't be duplicated.. . . . . . . N E V E R !
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I have been a fan since the 1960's. This man is one of the greatest; his range and sincere delivery were second to none. A huge talent that will be well remembered and appreciated for as long as popular music exists.
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frankwiener
@luvmusic: You make me feel so old!
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Elvis Presley said that if Roy Orbison had looks to match his music he would have been the king of rock and roll
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Why haven't I heard of him? Just added his station. Example of why Pandora so great.
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salhosoo never get tired of listening to his songs !
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Great tune
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orderofthego r d o n s
An absolute one of a kind. Roy was a genius.
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Doesn't get any better than Roy
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stop by:
↘️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️⬇️
➡️ david... radio ⬅️
↗️⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️⬆️
50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s~
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Coolest voice in Rock and Roll!!EVER!! !
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Best music ever
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Oh my goodness! What can I say. I saw him at a free concert in MI, loved it and him!
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Roy. Is. The. Best
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sheffield57
Legend for sure
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His voice was amazing
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Grampaunc48 nothing like his voice
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A true legend
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lbennett506
One of a kind , voice like no other.
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what a voice i heard springsteen once said he wished he had a voice like him
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dragonlady60 8 8
I love Roy. Rip u TALENTED man
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California Blue and Wind Surfer are a couple of VERY GOOD song that don't get much play time.????
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Mercy
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Saw him in 82 in San Fran. He was great
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