Roy Orbison
"In 1975, when I went in to the studio to make 'Born To Run', I wanted to make a record with words like Bob Dylan that sounded like Phil Spector. But, most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison."
-- Bruce Springsteen
Roy Orbison began making music as a teenager in Wink, Texas as the Wink Westerners, and then later at North Texas University as The Teen Kings. He took a song written by some fraternity brothers to Norm Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico and "OOby Dooby" was released. The record went nowhere and Orbison returned to Denton where he was hosting a radio show. While doing the show he met Johnny Cash who suggested he try his Sun label in Memphis. Sam Phillips signed Orbison and did a new recording of "Ooby Dooby" which had some success in 1956 (reaching #59 on Billboard). Orbison was now touring with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins and Phillips was trying to fit him into the rockabilly sound that was so successful for Sun. But none of his recordings caught on. Roy began to concentrate more on song writing. In 1958, the Everly Brothers recorded his composition of "Claudette" (named after Roy's wife) and put it on the "B" side of "All I Have to Do Is Dream." The Everly Brothers hooked Roy up with Wesley Rose who got him a contract with RCA. But even working with Chet Atkins at RCA, Roy Orbison didn't find the right production. A bass player at the RCA sessions, Bob Moore was buying a part interest in a new label owned by Fred Foster, Monument Records based in Washington, D.C. and Roy signed with them. Orbison began collaborating with Joe Melson. They produced "Uptown" which was released in November, 1959 and made it to #72 on Billboard. Orbison had found his sound. 1960 was a big year, led by the Orbison / Melson song, "Only The Lonely." It peaked at #2, but would make the top 20 for the year in Billboard, G & T, and Cashbox. 1961 produced Roy Orbison's first #1 song, "Running Scared," and his most recognizable record, "Crying." His success continued through the early 1960's and in 1963 he toured Britain with an opening band, The Beatles. The group was still relatively unknown in the United States, but they, along with other artists such as Linda Ronstadt and Bruce Springsteen would pay homage to Orbison's influence. It was during the English tour that Orbison acquired his signature look -- the dark glasses. His regular glasses had broken and all he had was the dark glasses. Roy suffered from sever near sightedness and needed to wear glasses. So he went on stage in dark glasses. It became a trademark. With the "British Invasion," many U.S. artists disappeared from the charts, but in 1964, in the midst of the popularity of everything British, Orbison had another #1 song, "Pretty Woman." But in the middle '60's, Orbison suffered personal tragedies when his wife was killed in a motorcycle accident and then his two sons died in a home fire. He continued to record through the '70's and '80's but with little chart success. In 1980, a duet with Emmy Lou Harris, "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again" made it to #55. But in 1987, Orbison was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A duet of "Crying" with k.d. lang reached #28 on the country chart that year. And then Roy teamed up with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Jeff Lynne as The Travelling Willbury's for several top 40 recordings. He then released a new solo album, "Mystery Girl." Roy Orbison was on a big comeback when he died suddenly of a heart attack on December 6, 1988. The single, "You Got It" reached #1 on the country chart and #9 on the pop chart in 1989.
title week debuted highest ranking weeks on chart
Ooby Dooby 6/1/1956 59  
Only the Lonely 6/20/1960 2 15
Blue Angel 10/17/1960 9 8
I'm Hurtin' 12/31/1960 27 3
Running Scared 4/21/1961 1 15
Crying 8/28/1961 2 14
Candy Man 10/9/1961 25 5
Dream Baby 3/30/1962 4 9
The Crowd 6/23/1962 26 6
Workin For The Man 10/27/1962 33 4
In Dreams 2/23/1963 7 10
Falling 6/22/1963 22 5
Mean Woman Blues 9/28/1963 5 10
Blue Bayou 10/12/1963 29 5
Oh Pretty Woman 9/26/1964 1 14