Friday, April 23, 2010
Wear some shades today
Roy Kelton Orbison was born on this day in 1936 and he was every bit as important as Elvis Presley to a kid growing up in the Sixties. He wrote his own music, after all, and his remarkable tenor/falsetto voice was impossible to emulate. Not that we didn't try. And it's painful to even mention, but we still do.
His first national hit, written with Joe Melson, was targeted for Elvis or the Everly Brothers (great plan) but Roy liked it so much he decided to record it himself. Britain, which appreciated the best music coming out of America at the time, made "Only the Lonely" Orbison's first No. 1 hit across the pond. It just missed here, topping out at No. 2.
This was 1960, and a kid buying 45 RPM records with pocket change now instantly knew to snag anything that appeared on the Monument Records label. "Only the Lonely" was the first of nine Top 10 songs Orbison recorded for Monument. The second, "Running Scared," became the label and Roy's first No. 1 in 1961. And when you flipped it over you were rewarded with "Love Hurts."
It's a fact that in 1963 when Orbison toured Britain -- where "It's Over" also made it to No. 1 -- the Beatles opened for him. How fitting that a year later, during the early rush of the British Invasion, it was Orbison's "Oh Pretty Woman" that replaced the Animals' "House of the Rising Sun" as the No. 1 song in America.
Orbison's revival 25 years later with the Traveling Wilburys was a sweet deal, and a launching pad for some folks' appreciation of the legend that one rock 'n' roll biographer compared to "a tree." Oh, but to have been around when his music was taking root.