Roy Orbison

Country Singer / Songwriter / Rock Musician

Born: 23 April 1936
Died: 6 December 1988 (heart attack)
Birthplace: Vernon, Texas
Best known as: Singer of "Only the Lonely"
Roy Orbison was a Texas singer and songwriter who turned out a string of hits in the 1960s, including "Crying," "Only the Lonely" and "Pretty Woman" (1960-64). His distinctive vocal style and soulful ballads made him a star on pop and country charts in the U.S. and the U. K., but in 1966 his wife was killed in a motorcycle accident and his career stalled. Two years later two of his sons were killed in a fire and his career hit bottom. During the '70s he focused on country music and remained an audience favorite, and by the end of the decade several of his songs had become hits by other artists, including Linda Ronstadt's cover of "Blue Bayou" (1977) and Don McLean's version of "Crying" (1980). In 1986 David Lynch's film Blue Velvet helped make a hit again of his 1963 song "In Dreams," and Orbison made a popular comeback. In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and released a two-disc set of re-recorded hits, and in 1988 he joined The Travelling Willburys, a "supergroup" that included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty. His 1989 album, Mystery Girl was released posthumously and became his biggest-selling record.
Extra credit: Orbison and Emmy Lou Harris won a Grammy for their 1980 collaboration on "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again," and Orbison and k. d. lang won a Grammy for their 1987 duet "Crying."

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