Images of Roy Orbison
Legendary singer-songwriter whose voice carried the haunted cry of a troubled heart. His quavering ballads defined archetypes that still endure today. Orbison is remembered as being the first to move away from flashy photogenic rock to create an original form of country/pop-based rock that endures today.
He was an expert of vocal gymnastics and often hit the high notes – yet his quavering operatic voice conveyed a heartbreak. He earned the reputation as “Caruso of Rock” and master of sad ballads. Additionally, he was an accomplished songwriter whose songs were covered by many artists around the world.
His songs were often described as operatic and had an intensely dramatic quality. He is widely credited as the pioneer of romantic ballad rock ‘n’ roll – now widely popular among modern country stars. A member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, his legacy lives on today.
Orbison was born in Odessa, Texas on June 7, 1941 and married to Barbara Orbison. Their children include Roy Dewayne Orbison, Anthony King Orbison and Wesley Orbison.
In 1956, Orbison made his debut as a singer-songwriter for Sun Records label. His first two singles, “Ooby Dooby” and “Trying to Get to You,” achieved some success; however, he soon discovered that ballads were more his forte than rockabilly jive music.
He signed with Monument Records in January 1976 and, after a brief stint with Mercury Records, returned to Monument in 1979. His 1975 single, “Penny Arcade,” reached number one in Australia for weeks on end and also opened concerts for The Eagles as well as being a regular guest on Austin City Limits throughout 1982.
In 1987, Orbison became the first living singer to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Later that same year he was inducted into both Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum in 2014 respectively.
His music inspired a generation of singer-songwriters, such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Jimi Hendrix and Bruce Springsteen. He is widely considered one of the greatest songwriters in rock and roll history.
At the height of his career, Orbison achieved six top 10 hits in both the U.S. and U.K. His songs were covered by numerous artists such as Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, plus he became the subject of numerous movies and popular television series.
His music continues to be beloved by admirers around the globe. Barbara Orbison, his wife, continues to release recordings of Orbison music on her label, Orbison Records. Additionally, she released Combo Concert – a live DVD featuring previously unseen performances of Orbison from Holland and France.