Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison

Celebrity Profile

Name: Roy Orbison
Occupation: Rock Singer
Gender: Male
Height: 180 cm (5' 11'')
Birth Day: April 23, 1936
Death Date: Dec 6, 1988 (age 52)
Age: Aged 52
Birth Place: Vernon, United States
Zodiac Sign: Taurus

Social Accounts

Height: 180 cm (5' 11'')
Weight: in kg - N/A
Eye Color: N/A
Hair Color: N/A
Blood Type N/A
Tattoo(s) N/A

Roy Orbison

Roy Orbison was born on April 23, 1936 in Vernon, United States (52 years old). Roy Orbison is a Rock Singer, zodiac sign: Taurus. Find out Roy Orbison net worth 2020, salary 2020 detail bellow.


His first wife and two eldest sons died in separate accidents, which led to him singing dark, emotional songs with his baritone voice.

Does Roy Orbison Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, Roy Orbison died on Dec 6, 1988 (age 52).

Net Worth

Net Worth 2020

$20 Million

Salary 2020

Not known

Before Fame

He started dyeing his hair black at an early age because of lack of confidence in his appearance. One of the first groups he worked with was The Teen Kings.

Biography Timeline


Orbison was born on April 23, 1936 in Vernon, Texas, the middle son of Orbie Lee Orbison (1913–1984), an oil well driller and car mechanic, and nurse Nadine Vesta Shults (July 25, 1913 – May 12, 1992). The family moved to Fort Worth in 1942 to find work in the aircraft factories.


Roy attended Denver Avenue Elementary School until a polio scare prompted the family to return to Vernon, and they moved again to Wink, Texas in 1946. Orbison described life in Wink as "football, oil fields, oil, grease, and sand" and expressed relief that he was able to leave the desolate town. All the Orbison children had poor eyesight; Roy used thick corrective lenses from an early age. He was self-conscious about his appearance and began dyeing his nearly-white hair black when he was still young. He was quiet, self-effacing, and remarkably polite and obliging. He was always keen to sing, however. He considered his voice memorable, but not great.


While living in Odessa, Orbison saw a performance by Elvis Presley. Johnny Cash toured the area in 1955 and 1956, appearing on the same local TV show as the Wink Westerners, and he suggested that Orbison approach Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Orbison did so and was told, "Johnny Cash doesn't run my record company!" The success of their KMID television show got them another show on KOSA-TV, and they changed their name to the Teen Kings. They recorded "Ooby Dooby" in 1956 for the Odessa-based Je–Wel label. Record store owner Poppa Holifield played it over the telephone for Sam Phillips, and Phillips offered the Teen Kings a contract.


The Teen Kings went to Sun Studio in Memphis, where Phillips wanted to record "Ooby Dooby" again, in his studio. The song was released on Sun 242 in May 1956 and broke into the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 59 and selling 200,000 copies. The Teen Kings toured with Sonny James, Johnny Horton, Carl Perkins, and Cash. Much influenced by Elvis Presley, Orbison performed frenetically, doing "everything we could to get applause because we had only one hit record". The Teen Kings also began writing songs in a rockabilly style, including "Go! Go! Go!" and "Rockhouse". The band ultimately split over disputed writing credits and royalties, but Orbison stayed in Memphis and asked his 16-year-old girlfriend, Claudette Frady, to join him there. They stayed in Phillips' home, sleeping in separate rooms. In the studio, Orbison concentrated on the mechanics of recording. Phillips remembered being much more impressed with Orbison's mastery of the guitar than with his voice. A ballad Orbison wrote, "The Clown", met with a lukewarm response; after hearing it, Sun Records producer Jack Clement told Orbison that he would never make it as a ballad singer.


Orbison was introduced to Elvis Presley's social circle, once going to pick up a date for Presley in his purple Cadillac. Orbison wrote "Claudette"—about Claudette Frady, whom he married in 1957—and the Everly Brothers recorded it as the B-side of "All I Have to Do Is Dream". The first, and perhaps only, royalties Orbison earned from Sun Records enabled him to make a down payment on his own Cadillac. Increasingly frustrated at Sun, he gradually stopped recording. He toured music circuits around Texas and then quit performing for seven months in 1958.

Playing shows at night and living with his wife and young child in a tiny apartment, Orbison often took his guitar to his car to write songs. The songwriter Joe Melson, an acquaintance of Orbison's, tapped on his car window one day in Texas in 1958, and the two decided to write some songs together. In three recording sessions in 1958 and 1959, Orbison recorded seven songs at RCA Nashville. Only two singles were judged worthy of release by RCA. Wesley Rose brought Orbison to the attention of the producer Fred Foster at Monument Records.


"Uptown" reached only number 72 on the Billboard Top 100, and Orbison set his sights on negotiating a contract with an upscale nightclub somewhere. His initial success came just as the '50s rock-and-roll era was winding down. Starting in 1960, the charts in the United States came to be dominated by teen idols, novelty acts, and Motown girl groups.

Experimenting with a new sound, Orbison and Joe Melson wrote a song in early 1960 which, using elements from "Uptown", and another song they had written called "Come Back to Me (My Love)", employed strings and the Anita Kerr doo-wop backing singers. It also featured a note hit by Orbison in falsetto that showcased a powerful voice which, according to biographer Clayson, "came not from his throat but deeper within". The song was "Only the Lonely (Know the Way I Feel)". Orbison and Melson tried to pitch it to Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers, but were turned down. They instead recorded the song at RCA's Nashville studio, with sound engineer Bill Porter trying a completely new strategy, building the mix from the top down rather than from the bottom up, beginning with close-miked backing vocals in the foreground, and ending with the rhythm section soft in the background. This combination became Orbison's trademark sound.

Orbison admitted that he did not think his voice was put to appropriate use until "Only the Lonely" in 1960, when it was able, in his words, to allow its "flowering". Carl Perkins, however, toured with Orbison while they were both signed with Sun Records and recalled a specific concert when Orbison covered the Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald standard "Indian Love Call", and had the audience completely silenced, in awe. When compared to the Everly Brothers, who often used the same session musicians, Orbison is credited with "a passionate intensity" that, according to The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll, made "his love, his life, and, indeed, the whole world [seem] to be coming to an end—not with a whimper, but an agonised, beautiful bang".


"Crying" followed in July 1961 and reached number two; it was coupled with an up-tempo R&B song, "Candy Man", written by Fred Neil and Beverley Ross, which reached the Billboard Top 30, staying on the charts for two months. While Orbison was touring Australia in 1962, an Australian DJ referred to him affectionately as "The Big O", partly based on the big finishes to his dramatic ballads, and the moniker stuck with him thereafter. Orbison's second son was born the same year, and Orbison hit number four in the United States and number two in the UK with "Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)", an upbeat song by country songwriter Cindy Walker. (Orbison's producer later formed the Candymen quintet, which was Orbison's backing band from 1965 to 1970 and released a few singles and two albums of its own). Also in 1962, he charted with "The Crowd", "Leah", and "Workin' for the Man", which he wrote about working one summer in the oil fields near Wink. His relationship with Joe Melson, however, was deteriorating over Melson's growing concerns that his own solo career would never get off the ground.


Orbison eventually developed an image that did not reflect his personality. He had no publicist in the early 1960s, therefore he had little presence in fan magazines, and his single sleeves did not feature his picture. Life called him an "anonymous celebrity". After leaving his thick eyeglasses on an aeroplane in 1963, while on tour with the Beatles, Orbison was forced to wear his prescription Wayfarer sunglasses on stage and found that he preferred them. His biographers suggest that although he had a good sense of humour and was never morose, Orbison was very shy and suffered from severe stage fright; wearing sunglasses helped him hide somewhat. The sunglasses led some people to assume he was blind. His black clothes and song lyrics emphasised the image of mystery and introversion. His dark and brooding persona, combined with his tremulous voice in lovelorn ballads marketed to teenagers, made Orbison a star in the early 1960s. His string of top-40 hits continued with "In Dreams" (US number seven, UK number six), "Falling" (US number 22, UK number 9), and "Mean Woman Blues" (US number five, UK number three) coupled with "Blue Bayou" (US number 29, UK number three). According to the official Roy Orbison U.S. discography by Marcel Riesco, a rare alternative version of "Blue Bayou" was released in Italy. Orbison finished 1963 with a Christmas song written by Willie Nelson, "Pretty Paper" (US number 15 in 1963, UK number six in 1964).

As "In Dreams" was released in April 1963, Orbison was asked to replace Duane Eddy on a tour of the UK in top billing with the Beatles. When he arrived in Britain, however, he realised he was no longer the main draw. He had never heard of the Beatles, and annoyed, asked rhetorically, "What's a Beatle, anyway?" to which John Lennon replied, after tapping his shoulder, "I am". On the opening night, Orbison opted to go onstage first, although he was the more established act. The Beatles stood dumbfounded backstage as Orbison sang through 14 encores. Finally, when the audience began chanting "We want Roy!" again, Lennon and McCartney physically held Orbison back. Starr later said, "In Glasgow, we were all backstage listening to the tremendous applause he was getting. He was just standing there, not moving or anything." Through the tour, however, the two acts quickly learned to get along, a process made easier by the fact that the Beatles admired his work. Orbison felt a kinship with Lennon, but it was Harrison with whom he would later form a strong friendship.

Touring in 1963 took a toll on Orbison's personal life. His wife Claudette had an affair with the contractor who built their home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Friends and relatives attributed the breakdown of the marriage to her youth and her inability to withstand being alone and bored. When Orbison toured Britain again in the autumn of 1963, she joined him. He was immensely popular wherever he went, finishing the tour in Ireland and Canada. Almost immediately, he toured Australia and New Zealand with the Beach Boys and returned again to Britain and Ireland, where he was so besieged by teenaged girls that the Irish police had to halt his performances to pull the girls off him. He travelled to Australia again, this time with the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger later remarked, referring to a snapshot he took of Orbison in New Zealand, "a fine figure of a man in the hot springs, he was."

Orbison also began collaborating with Bill Dees, whom he had known in Texas. With Dees, he wrote "It's Over", a number-one hit in the UK and a song that would be one of his signature pieces for the rest of his career. When Claudette walked in the room where Dees and Orbison were writing to say she was heading for Nashville, Orbison asked if she had any money. Dees said, "A pretty woman never needs any money". Just 40 minutes later, "Oh, Pretty Woman" was completed. A riff-laden masterpiece that employed a playful growl he got from a Bob Hope movie, the epithet mercy Orbison uttered when he was unable to hit a note, it rose to number one in the autumn of 1964 in the United States and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks. It rose to number one in the UK, as well, spending a total of 18 weeks on the charts. The single sold over seven million copies. Orbison's success was greater in Britain; as Billboard magazine noted, "In a 68-week period that began on August 8, 1963, Roy Orbison was the only American artist to have a number-one single in Britain. He did it twice, with 'It's Over' on June 25, 1964, and 'Oh, Pretty Woman' on October 8, 1964. The latter song also went to number one in America, making Orbison impervious to the current chart dominance of British artists on both sides of the Atlantic."


Claudette and Orbison divorced in November 1964 over her infidelities, but reconciled 10 months later. His contract with Monument was expiring in June 1965. Wesley Rose, at this time acting as Orbison's agent, moved him from Monument Records to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) (though in Europe he remained with Decca's London Records) for $1 million and with the understanding that he would expand into television and films, as Elvis Presley had done. Orbison was a film enthusiast, and when not touring, writing, or recording, he dedicated time to seeing up to three films a day.


While on tour again in the UK in 1966, Orbison broke his foot falling off a motorcycle in front of thousands of screaming fans at a race track; he performed his show that evening in a cast. Claudette travelled to England to accompany Roy for the remainder of the tour. It was now made public that the couple had happily remarried and were back together (they had remarried in December 1965).

Orbison and Claudette shared a love for motorcycles; she had grown up around them, but Roy claimed Elvis Presley had introduced him to motorcycles. On June 6, 1966, when Orbison and Claudette were riding home from Bristol, Tennessee, she struck the door of a pickup truck which had pulled out in front of her on South Water Avenue in Gallatin, Tennessee and died instantly.


During a tour of England and playing Birmingham on Saturday, September 14, 1968, he received the news that his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, had burned down, and his two eldest sons had died. The property was sold to Johnny Cash, who demolished the building and planted an orchard on it. On March 25, 1969, Orbison married German teenager Barbara Jakobs, whom he had met several weeks before his sons' deaths. Wesley (born 1965), his youngest son with Claudette, was raised by Orbison's parents. Orbison and Barbara had a son (Roy Kelton) in 1970 and another (Alexander) in 1975.


Orbison continued recording albums in the 1970s, but none of them sold well. He went an entire decade by 1976 without an album reaching the charts. He also failed to produce any popular singles after the 1960s, except for a few in Australia. His fortunes sank so low that he began to doubt his own talents, and several of his 1970s albums were not released internationally due to low US sales. He left MGM Records in 1973 and signed a one-album deal with Mercury Records. Peter Lehman observed that Orbison's absence was a part of the mystery of his persona: "Since it was never clear where he had come from, no one seemed to pay much mind to where he had gone; he was just gone." His influence was apparent, however, as several artists released popular covers of his songs. Orbison's version of "Love Hurts" was remade by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, again by hard rock band Nazareth, and by blues artist Jim Capaldi. Sonny James' version of "Only the Lonely" reached number one on the country music charts. Bruce Springsteen ended his concerts with Orbison songs, and Glen Campbell had a minor hit with a remake of "Dream Baby".


A compilation of Orbison's greatest hits reached number one in the UK in January 1976, and Orbison began to open concerts for the Eagles that year, who started as Linda Ronstadt's backup band. Ronstadt herself covered "Blue Bayou" in 1977, her version reaching number three on the Billboard charts and remaining in the charts for 24 weeks. Orbison credited this cover in particular for reviving his memory in the popular mind, if not his career. He signed again with Monument in 1976 and recorded "Regeneration" with Fred Foster, but it proved no more successful than before.


In late 1977, Orbison was not feeling well and decided to spend the winter in Hawaii. He checked in to a hospital there where testing discovered that he had severely obstructed coronary arteries. He underwent a triple coronary bypass on January 18, 1978. He had suffered from duodenal ulcers since 1960 and had been a heavy smoker since adolescence. He felt revitalised following the surgery, but he continued to smoke, and his weight fluctuated for the remainder of his life.


In 1980, Don McLean recorded "Crying" and it went to the top of the charts, first in the Netherlands then reaching number five in the US and staying on the charts for 15 weeks; it was number one in the UK for three weeks and also topped the Irish Charts. Orbison was all but forgotten in the US, yet he reached popularity in unlikely places such as Bulgaria in 1982. He was astonished to find that he was as popular there as he had been in 1964, and he was forced to stay in his hotel room because he was mobbed on the streets of Sofia. In 1981, he and Emmylou Harris won a Grammy Award for their duet "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again" from the comedy film Roadie, in which Orbison also had a cameo role, and things were picking up. It was his first such award, and he felt hopeful of making a full return to popular music, though it was several years until this came to fruition. In the meantime, Van Halen released a hard-rock cover of "Oh, Pretty Woman" on their 1982 album Diver Down, again further exposing a younger generation to Orbison's music.


By 1987, Orbison's career was fully revived. He released an album of his re-recorded hits, titled In Dreams: The Greatest Hits. "Life Fades Away", a song he co-wrote with his friend Glenn Danzig and recorded, was featured in the film Less Than Zero (1987). He and k.d. lang performed a duet of "Crying" for inclusion on the soundtrack to the film Hiding Out (1987); the pair received a Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals after Orbison's death.

Also in 1987, Orbison was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and was initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Bruce Springsteen, who concluded his speech with a reference to his own album Born to Run: "I wanted a record with words like Bob Dylan that sounded like Phil Spector—but, most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now, everyone knows that no one sings like Roy Orbison." In response, Orbison asked Springsteen for a copy of the speech, and said of his induction that he felt "validated" by the honour. A few months later, Orbison and Springsteen paired again to film a concert at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles. They were joined by Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Bonnie Raitt, Jennifer Warnes, James Burton, and k.d. lang. Lang later recounted how humbled Orbison had been by the display of support from so many talented and busy musicians: "Roy looked at all of us and said, 'If there is anything I can ever do for you, please call on me'. He was very serious. It was his way of thanking us. It was very emotional." The concert was filmed in one take and aired on Cinemax under the title Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night; it was released on video by Virgin Records, selling 50,000 copies.


"Only the Lonely" shot to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit number one in the UK and Australia. According to Orbison, the subsequent songs he wrote with Melson during this period were constructed with his voice in mind, specifically to showcase its range and power. He told Rolling Stone in 1988, "I liked the sound of [my voice]. I liked making it sing, making the voice ring, and I just kept doing it. And I think that somewhere between the time of "Ooby Dooby" and "Only the Lonely", it kind of turned into a good voice." Its success transformed Orbison into an overnight star and he appeared on Dick Clark's Saturday Night Beechnut Show out of New York City. When Presley heard "Only the Lonely" for the first time, he bought a box of copies to pass to his friends. Melson and Orbison followed it with the more complex "Blue Angel", which peaked at number nine in the US and number 11 in the UK. "I'm Hurtin'", with "I Can't Stop Loving You" as the B-side, rose to number 27 in the US, but failed to chart in the UK.

It was also in 1988 that Orbison began collaborating seriously with Electric Light Orchestra bandleader Jeff Lynne on a new album. Lynne had just completed production work on George Harrison's Cloud Nine album, and all three ate lunch together one day when Orbison accepted an invitation to sing on Harrison's new single. They subsequently contacted Bob Dylan, who, in turn, allowed them to use a recording studio in his home. Along the way, Harrison made a quick visit to Tom Petty's residence to obtain his guitar; Petty and his band had backed Dylan on his last tour. By that evening, the group had written "Handle with Care", which led to the concept of recording an entire album. They called themselves the Traveling Wilburys, representing themselves as half-brothers with the same father. They gave themselves stage names; Orbison chose his from his musical hero, calling himself "Lefty Wilbury" after Lefty Frizzell. Expanding on the concept of a traveling band of raucous musicians, Orbison offered a quote about the group's foundation in honour: "Some people say Daddy was a cad and a bounder. I remember him as a Baptist minister."

Orbison determinedly pursued his second chance at stardom, but he expressed amazement at his success: "It's very nice to be wanted again, but I still can't quite believe it." He lost some weight to fit his new image and the constant demand of touring, as well as the newer demands of making videos. In the final three months of his life, he gave Rolling Stone magazine extensive access to his daily activities; he intended to write an autobiography and wanted Martin Sheen to play him in a biopic. In November 1988, Mystery Girl was completed, and Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 was rising up the charts. Around this time, Orbison confided in Johnny Cash that he was having chest pains. He went to Europe, was presented with an award there, and played a show in Antwerp, where footage for the video for "You Got It" was filmed. He gave several interviews a day in a hectic schedule. A few days later, a manager at a club in Boston was concerned that he looked ill, but Orbison played the show, to another standing ovation.

Orbison performed at the Front Row Theater in Highland Heights, Ohio, on December 4. Exhausted, he returned to his home in Hendersonville to rest for several days before flying again to London to film two more videos for the Traveling Wilburys. On December 6, 1988, he spent the day flying model aeroplanes with his sons and ate dinner at his mother's home in Hendersonville. Later that day, he died of a heart attack, at the age of 52.


A memorial for Orbison was held in Nashville, and another was held in Los Angeles. He was buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in an unmarked grave. On April 8, 1989, Orbison became the first deceased musician since Elvis Presley to have two albums in the US Top Five at the same time, with the Traveling Wilburys album at number 4 and his own Mystery Girl at number 5. In the United Kingdom, he achieved even greater posthumous success, with two solo albums in the Top 3 in the chart dated February 11, 1989, Mystery Girl at number 2 and the compilation The Legendary Roy Orbison at number 3.


In 1990, Colin Escott wrote an introduction to Orbison's biography published in a CD box set: "Orbison was the master of compression. Working the singles era, he could relate a short story, or establish a mood in under three minutes. If you think that's easy—try it. His greatest recordings were quite simply perfect; not a word or note surplus to intention." After attending a show in 1988, Peter Watrous of The New York Times wrote that Orbison's songs are "dreamlike claustrophobically intimate set pieces". Music critic Ken Emerson writes that the "apocalyptic romanticism" in Orbison's music was well-crafted for the films in which his songs appeared in the 1980s because the music was "so over-the-top that dreams become delusions, and self-pity paranoia", striking "a post-modern nerve". Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant favoured American R&B music as a youth, but beyond the black musicians, he named Elvis and Orbison especially as foreshadowing the emotions he would experience: "The poignancy of the combination of lyric and voice was stunning. [Orbison] used drama to great effect and he wrote dramatically."


Rolling Stone placed him at number 37 on their list of the "Greatest Artists of All Time" and number 13 on their list of the "100 Greatest Singers of All Time'. In 2002, Billboard magazine listed Orbison at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists.


In 2014, a demo of Orbison's "The Way Is Love" was released as part of the 25th-anniversary deluxe edition of Mystery Girl. The song was originally recorded on a stereo cassette player around 1986. Orbison's sons contributed instrumentation on the track along with Roy's vocals; it was produced by John Carter Cash.

Family Life

Roy married Claudette Frady on August 1, 1957 and he later married Barbara Orbison on March 25, 1969.

🎂 Upcoming Birthday

Currently, Roy Orbison is 52 years old. Roy Orbison will celebrate 53rd birthday on Friday, April 23, 2021. Below we countdown to Roy Orbison upcoming birthday.


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