Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison was an American singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1950s and early 1960s as one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. His powerful, emotional voice, innovative musical style, and iconic stage presence made him one of the most influential musicians of his generation, and his legacy continues to shape the sound and style of rock and roll today.

Roy Orbison holding a guitarOrbison was born in Vernon, Texas in 1936, and grew up listening to the country and western music of his native state. However, he was also exposed to a wide range of other musical styles, including gospel, blues, and classical, and he quickly developed a keen ear for melody and a passion for music. In the 1950s, Orbison began writing and performing his own songs, and his unique style soon caught the attention of the music industry.

The Orbison Voice

One of the things that set Orbison apart from other musicians of his time was his voice. He had a powerful, soaring tenor that was capable of conveying a wide range of emotions, from heartbreak and sadness to joy and excitement. His voice was further enhanced by his innovative musical arrangements, which often featured lush strings and dramatic instrumentation that underscored the emotional intensity of his lyrics.

Orbison’s impact on rock and roll was felt immediately, and he quickly became one of the most popular and influential musicians of his time. His hit songs, such as “Only the Lonely” and “Crying”, helped to define the sound and style of the early rock and roll genre, and his distinctive stage presence and electrifying live performances made him a popular concert draw.

Big Hits

“Oh, Pretty Woman” was Orbison’s biggest hit in 1964, reaching the top of the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom. Its catchy melody and upbeat lyrics have made it one of Orbison’s most enduring hits. In 1990, the song was included in the soundtrack of the film “Pretty Woman,” which starred Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. The film was a huge box office success and the soundtrack, which featured Orbison’s classic hit, also became a commercial success. The exposure from the film helped to revive interest in Orbison’s music, and “Oh, Pretty Woman” became a hit again, reaching the top 40 charts in several countries.

“In Dreams” from 1963 was a haunting ballad featuring Orbison’s powerful voice and dramatic instrumental arrangements, and its ethereal, dream-like quality has made it one of his most memorable and enduring songs.  Orbison first big hit, an upbeat rocker from 1961  rounds out his top 5.

These are some of the most popular songs recorded by Roy Orbison, and they are widely considered to be some of the best and most influential songs in the rock and roll genre. His impact on popular music was profound, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence musicians and fans around the world.

The Look

In addition to his musical contributions, Orbison was also a pioneer in terms of his style and image. He was known for his distinctive black sunglasses, which became one of his most recognizable trademarks, and his stylish, elegant stage costumes helped to set him apart from other musicians of the time. His influence can be seen in the music and fashion of many later rock and roll performers, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of musicians.

In the years since his death, Orbison’s music has continued to be popular, and his influence has been widely recognized by musicians, fans, and critics alike. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and his songs continue to be performed and recorded by musicians around the world. His impact on rock and roll music was profound, and his legacy will continue to shape the genre for generations to come.