Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison

oy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) was an American singer-songwriter and musician, well known for his distinctive, powerful voice, complex compositions, and dark emotional ballads. Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly / country & western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records in the early to mid 1960s when 22 of his songs placed on the US Billboard Top Forty, including "Only the Lonely", "Crying", "In Dreams", and "Oh, Pretty Woman". His career stagnated through the 1970s, but several covers of his songs and the use of one in a film by David Lynch revived his career in the 1980s. In 1988 he joined the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne and also released a new solo album. He died of a heart attack in December that year, at the zenith of his resurgence. He had experienced some major tragedies in his life, including the death of his first wife and two of his children in separate accidents.

Orbison was a natural baritone, yet could sing high tenor notes with ease; commentators have suggested that he had a three or four-octave range. The combination of Orbison's powerful, impassioned voice and complex musical arrangements led many commentators to refer to his music as operatic; he even earned the sobriquet "the Caruso of Rock". Performers as disparate as Elvis Presley and Bono stated his voice was, resp...