April 23, 1936-Dec. 6, 1988
Roy Orbison had one of the most distinctive voices in rock. His voice was often described as "operatic" and Roy was dubbed early on as "The Caruso of Rock". I remember as a kid that the hair on my neck would stand up when I heard "Running Scared". Roy was an unlikely looking pop star with his big tinted glasses (his eyes were sensitive to the light) and stiff stage manner, but, oh my god, that voice! A natural baritone coupled with a three or four octave range.
Roy Orbison got his start with Sam Phillips and Sun Records, but didn't come into his own until he moved to Monument Records in 1960. It was there that his career really took off with 22 of his songs placing in the Top 40 during his heyday in the 60's. The themes of Roy's songs showed a vulnerability that was unusual in the pop hits of the day. When combined with his soaring vocals, songs like "Running Scared", "Only the Lonely", "Crying", "In Dreams" and, of course, "Oh, Pretty Woman" remain timeless and classic to this day.
Roy's career was mostly moribund through the 70's but when he joined The Traveling Wilburys he finally got his due from stars like Bono and Bruce Springsteen. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. Unfortunately, at the height of his resurgence, Roy Orbison tragically passed away from a massive heart attack.
I highly recommend Roy's last album, Mystery Girl.
I'm posting this video as a tribute to Roy's timeless talent and because it's one of my favorite Christmas songs.
Ladies and Gentlemen...
Mr. Roy Orbison