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A Look Back at Roy Orbison, an Unassuming West Texas Boy Turned Rockstar

Roy Orbison plays a show in Clearwater Florida in December of 1961.
Roy Orbison plays a show in Clearwater Florida in December of 1961.

Fifty years ago this month, Roy Orbison had his break-out hit "Pretty Woman." The catchy tune about an attractive lady walking by his song became the influence of countless covers and catapulted him into rock-n-roll history. His 1964 song, along with eight other singles, gave the "British Invasion" of the 1960s a run for their money.

Even Ringo Starr would later confess that Orbison was the only opener The Beatles feared to follow, but Orbison said he never had to reach far for his material when it came to "Pretty Woman."

“I never analyzed the song” he recounted. “As it happened it was another form of girl-watching, standing on the corner watching a pretty girl.”

While the subject matter seems simple and straight forward, it was Orbison’s melodic style that made him stand out. At Orbison’s Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame induction Bruce Springsteen would later go onto say

“It was like a spirit sound, it was disembodied, it went well with his presentation…He was a guy that got more intense by just standing still.”

Orbison died Dec. 6 , 1988, when he was just fifty-two years old, his music having shaped the 60’s and inspiring countless artists since. 

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