Personalities | Roy Orbison | Fifties | Rock

(Singer-songwriter, 1936–88)

Born in Texas, the high-voiced Orbison first recorded with Norman Petty, but his first US chart success was 1956’s rockabilly ‘Ooby Dooby’ on Sun Records. After writing ‘Claudette’ (a 1957 hit for The Everly Brothers), he became a Nashville songwriter for Acuff-Rose, and restarted his recording career with 1960’s million-selling ballad ‘Only The Lonely’, setting a pattern for many later woebegone hits, including 1961’s US No. 1 ‘Running Scared’, 1964’s UK No. 1 ‘It’s Over’ and US and UK No. 1 ‘Oh, Pretty Woman’ (1964). A 1965 label change and evolution of pop music saw his US hits end in 1967, and his UK hits in 1969, while he was beset with family tragedies. In 1988, he joined The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, who all held him in high esteem, but he died of a heart attack before he could take real advantage of his restored popularity.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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