Roy Orbison

Induction Year: 1987

Birth Name: Roy Kelton Orbison
Birth Date: April 23, 1936
Place of Birth: Vernon, TX
Deceased: December 06, 1988
Place of Death: Hendersonville, TN


"I'm sure we had to study composition or something like that at school, and they'd say 'This is the way you do it,' and that's the way I would have done it, so being blessed again with not knowing what was wrong or what was right, I went on my own way....So the structure sometimes has the chorus at the end of the song, and sometimes there is no chorus, it just goes...But that's always after the fact--as I'm writing, it all sounds natural and in sequence to me."  Roy Orbison

Former Occupations:
Gas company employee

Grade School--Schools in Vernon, Fort Worth, and Wink, TX
High School--Wink High School (from 1950-1954)
College--North Texas State University (1954)
College--Odessa Junior College (Texas) (from 1955-1956)


Discography / Career Highlights

Career Milestones:

1946--received first payment for singing when he tied for first place in a talent contest with a traveling talent show
1948--sang on West Texas radio stations
1948--performed on a weekly radio show on KERB in Kermit
1949--organized his first band, "The Wink Westerners"
1956--first recorded single "Ooby Dooby" ("Tryin' To Get To You" B-side) on Je-Wel records
1956--auditioned with band The Teen Kings for Sam Phillips of Sun Records
1956--signed contract with Sun Records
1956--performed at Memphis' Overton Park Shell on June 1 along with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Warren Smith and Eddie Bond; Elvis Presley was in the audience
1956--"Ooby Dooby" (re-recorded at Sun) made the national pop charts at #59
1957--Everly Brothers recorded Orbison's "Claudette" (released in 1958)
1957--signed staff writer contract with Acuff-Rose in Nashville
1958--signed recording contract with RCA Records in Nashville
1959--moved to Nashville
1959--signed recording contract with Monument Records in Nashville
1960--first major cut "Only the Lonely"; was a #1 hit in Britain and a #2 hit in America; sold 2 million copies
1960--first appearance on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand"
1961--first #1 hit "Running Scared"
1962--first album to make the charts, "Roy Orbison's Greatest Hits"
1964--"Oh, Pretty Woman" went to #1
1965--signed recording contract with MGM Records
1967--feature film debut in "The Fastest Guitar Alive" released by MGM (New York premiere January 15, 1967)
1974--signed with Mercury Records
1977--Linda Ronstadt recorded Roy Orbison/Joe Melson's "Blue Bayou" which went to #3 for two weeks and remained on the chart for 24 weeks
1980--Don McLean recorded "Crying" which went to #5 and stayed on the charts for 15 weeks
1982--Van Halen's "Oh, Pretty Woman" went to #12 and became the group's first top 10 hit
1986--moved to the West Coast
1987--signed first recording contract in 8 years with Virgin Records
1987--appeared on "Saturday Night Live" on May 22
1987--taped an all-star tribute for Cinemax which was released on video in May 1988 by Virgin Records as "Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night"; sold 50,000 copies
1988--"The Traveling Wilburys Volume One" released (with Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, George Harrison and Roy Orbison)
1988--last concert in Akron Ohio on December 4, two days before his death
1989--album "Mystery Girl" released posthumously


1980--Grammy\Best County Performance by a Duo or Group (with Emmylou Harris)\That Lovin' You Feeling Again (in feature film "Roadie" soundtrack)

1987--Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame induction

1988--Grammy\Best Country Vocal Collaboration (with k.d. lang)\Crying

1989--Grammy\Best Rock Performance By a Duo or Group w/Vocal\Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

1989--National Academy of Popular Music\Songwriters' Hall of Fame induction

1990--Grammy\Best Performance, Male\Oh, Pretty Woman


Catalog Highlights:

"Claudette" - Artists: Everly Brothers (1957), Chris Wells, Nighthawks, Ronnie & The Rockets, Brian Cross, Kris Jensen

"Only the Lonely" - Co-writer: Joe Melson, Artists: Roy Orbison (1960), Brian Cross, Johnny Tillotson, Danny Fabry, Sonny James

"Blue Angel" - Co-writer: Joe Melson, Artists: Roy Orbison (1960), Gerry Grant, Brian Cross

"Running Scared" - Co-writer: Joe Melson, Artists: Roy Orbison (1961), Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Glen Campbell, Freddy Starr, Gerry Grant, Jay & the Americans, Bob Luman, Jack Scott, Del Shannon, The Fools, Denny Davids and the Nashville Brass

"Crying" - Co-writer: Joe Melson, Artists: Roy Orbison (1961), k.d. lang & Roy Orbison, Del Shannon, Lisa Carter, Sheila G. White, Glen Campbell, Jay & The Americans, Don McLean, Limelighters, Waylon Jennings, Lettermen, Starlight Orchestra, Ronnie Milsap, Arlene Harden, Gene Pitney, Narvel Felts, Susie Stevens, Gerald Joling, Dion

"In Dreams" - Artists: Roy Orbison (1963), Brenda Cochrane, Gerry Grant, Brian Cross, Tom Jones, Ray Lance, Frank McCaffrey

"Blue Bayou" - Co-writer: Joe Melson, Artists: Roy Orbison (1963), Linda Ronstadt, Engelbert Humperdinck, The Mantovani Orchestra, Gerry Grant, Roberto Jordan, New York Theatre Orchestra, Brian Cross, Arlene Harden, Paula Die Basken, Sterben Jung, Floyd Cramer, The Sunset Strings

"Oh, Pretty Woman" - Co-writer: Dees, Artists: Roy Orbison (1964), Ricky Van Shelton, Red Hurley, Randy Jones, Count Basie and His Orchestra, Johnny Rivers, Andrew Hart, Louis Clark and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, John Cougar Mellencamp, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Al Green, The Ventures, Andy Kim, Arlene Harden, Del Shannon, Jan Hammer Group, Van Halen

"Ride Away" - Co-writer: William Dees, Artists: Roy Orbison (1965)

"That Lovin You Feelin Again" - Co-writer: Roma Chris Price, Artists: Roy Orbison & Emmy Lou Harris (1980)

"You Got It" - Co-writer: Jeff Lynn, Tom Petty, Artists: Roy Orbison (1988)

"Falling" - Artists: Brian Cross, Arlene Harden

"I'm Hurtin" - Artists: Brian Cross

"It's Over"- Artists: Glen Campbell, Gerry Grant, Dinah Shore, Brian Cross, Gene Pitney

"Lana" - Artists: The Velvets

"Leah" - Artists: Brian Cross, Bertie Higgins, Chris Isaac

"Uptown" - Artists: Johnny Dee and the Rocket 88's



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