Nadine, his mother, was a nurse. Orbie Lee, his father, a worker. Roy was their second child. For his sixth birthday, Roy asked for a harmonica, but fortunately his daddy gave him a guitar. Orbie Lee is generally credited with teaching Roy to play guitar. He learned very quickly, so that way he could stay up late with the grown-ups and sing. The Orbison family moved to Forth Worth sometime in But due to epidemic polio in , Roy and his elder brother Grady were sent back to live with their maternal grandmother, a divorcee, in Vernon.
Who Was Roy Orbison?
T he moment came early in every concert Roy Orbison gave for the last two decades of his life; in a way, it was as electric a moment as the instant Elvis Presley stepped onto a concert stage and found himself blinded by the glare of a thousand Instamatic flashbulbs. When he had his hits, he toured steadily. When his career faltered after personal tragedies and professional malaise, he kept on touring. And even in , as he worked on one record that would be his first Top Ten LP in decades Traveling Wilburys: Volume One and another that seemed certain to seal his full-scale comeback Mystery Girl , he still toured, playing the old songs on weekends and working on new ones during the week. While outside Veterans Memorial Coliseum families rode the Ferris wheel and gambled along the midway, inside Roy Orbison sang his hits. Afterward, he relaxed in the limousine carrying him back to his hotel, looking through the window at the bright neon and flashing lights of the fair. And as Orbison peered through his thick glasses at the fairground sights, he began to reminisce. They just set up a bunch of benches in the dirt and strung up lights. And they told jokes and did skits and had a talent contest and sold this magic elixir.
Roy Orbison formed his first band at age The singer-songwriter dropped out of college to pursue music. Nearly one year later, in December , he died of a heart attack. A year before Beatlemania overtook the United States in , the four lads from Liverpool invited Orbison to open for them on their English tour. On his first night, Orbison performed 14 encores before the Beatles even made it on stage.
His music was described by critics as operatic, earning him the nicknames "the Caruso of Rock" and "the Big O". Many of his songs conveyed vulnerability at a time when most male rock-and-roll performers chose to project defiant masculinity. He was known for his shyness and stage fright , countering these by wearing dark sunglasses. Orbison began singing in a rockabilly and country-and-western band at high school. From to , 22 of his singles reached the Billboard Top 40, and he wrote or co-wrote almost all that entered the Top 10, including " Only the Lonely " , " Running Scared " , " Crying " , " In Dreams " , and " Oh, Pretty Woman " From the mids he suffered a number of personal tragedies and his career faltered amidst declining record sales.