Before he became Lefty Wilbury, Roy Orbison had a long career, though not as long as it should have been. At the suggestion of Johnny Cash, who'd been handing out a lot of free advice (he convinced Carl Perkins to write "Blue Suede Shoes"), Orbison auditioned for Sun Records owner Sam Philips. "Ooby Dooby" was the first effort. Other releases went no where so Orbison moved on to RCA where things didn't improve. By the time he signed with his third label, Monument, he was ready to go.
Orbison had the ability to inject a high sense of drama into his songs. Ballads were his strong suit, given the quality of his voice. "Only The Lonely," a song passed on by both Elvis and the Everly Brothers, was his first major hit. However, Orbison could Rock. "Dream Baby," "Running Scared" and the unforgettable "Pretty Woman" are testaments to his abilities.
"Dream Baby" was so admired by the Beatles that it was the first song they played when they made their BBC radio debut. "Pretty Woman," alternating between frustration and joy proved timeless. The original version was used as a recurring theme in the Julia Roberts/Richard Gere film that took its title from the song. Van Halen also covered "Pretty Woman," staying reasonably faithful to the original.
Orbison's trademark "look" of always wearing shades happened by accident. Leaving his glasses behind, he was forced to wear a tinted pair. They proved such a hit that he kept them.
Presley felt Orbison was the best singer in Rock. He was surely the best in the Traveling Wilbury's where he was teamed with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and ELO's Jeff Lynne. His pure voice was one of the highlights of the Wilbury's "Handle With Care."
Suffering a heart attack on December 6th of '88 Orbison passed away. His posthumously released "Mystery Girl" featured the hit "You Got It." The CD also contained "She's a Mystery To Me," a song composed by U2's Bono and The Edge.
Surprising that it took so long, Roy Orbison finally got a posthumous star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame (on Vine Street in front of the Capitol Records building — next to John Lennon and George Harrison) in '10. The ceremony was attended by Jeff Beck, Chris Isaak, Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh and Dwight Yoakam.
1961 Roy Orbison At The Rock House
1961 Lonely And Blue
1963 In Dreams
1965 There Is Only One Roy Orbison
1966 The Orbison Way
1966 The Classic Roy Orbison
1967 Roy Orbison Sings Don Gibson
1967 The Fastest Guitar Alive Original Soundtrack
1967 Cry Softly Lonely One
1969 Roy Orbison's Many Moods
1970 Hank Williams The Roy Orbison Way
1970 The Big O
1972 Roy Orbison Sings
1976 I'm Still In Love With You
1979 Laminar Flow
1985 Class of '55 (with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins)
1987 In Dreams: The Greatest Hits
1988 Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1(with The Traveling Wilburys)
1989 Mystery Girl
1992 King of Hearts
2015 One of the Lonely Ones
Orbison's high flying falsetto is something to behold. "Pretty Woman" with its acoustic guitar riff becomes a passion play in Orbison's hands. "Running Scared" is another dramatic Rocker. His career has been expertly documented. "The Legendary Roy Orbison," "A Roy Orbison Anthology 1956-1964" and "The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison" are all viable options.
Orbison's individual albums are usually inconsistent with the exception of his swan song "Mystery Girl." He had help from Bono and fellow Travelin' Wilbury Jeff Lynne. Orbison, also a Wilburys member, was easily the best singer in the group.