© 2024 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

An 'Authorized' Look Into The Life Of Rock 'N' Roll Icon Roy Orbison

Ways To Subscribe
Courtesy Center Street Publishing

This interview originally aired on June 11, 2018.

A Texan born and raised, singer-songwriter Roy Orbison got his start in a rockabilly band in high school. 

He broke into professional music under Sam Phillips at Sun Records and found the most success in the early rock 'n' roll era from 1956 to 1964. Orbison recorded several songs at Monument Records under producer Fred Foster with songwriting partners Joe Melson and Bill Dees, who tailored their music to Orbison's distinct style and voice. 

Orbison's most popular songs were dramatic ballads ending with emotional crescendos that showcased his powerful vocals. At the height of his popularity, 22 of Orbison's songs placed on the US Billboard Top 40 chart and peaked in the top 5, including two number one hits: "Running Scared and "Oh, Pretty Woman." 

Orbison triumphed in the 1980s as a member of the Traveling Wilburys, a supergroup including Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison.   

His final album, titled "Mystery Girl," was produced by Jeff Lynne and released posthumously on January 31, 1989.

An authorized biography was released in 2017, as a collaborative effort between three of his sons – Wesley, Roy Jr., and Alex Orbison – along with music journalist Jeff Slate.   

Guest: Jeff Slate, songwriter, journalist and co-author of "The Authorized Roy Orbison," an illustrated biography

Stay Connected
Jan Ross Piedad Sakian is TPR’s News Operations Producer. In this role, she develops strategy on collaborative and digital initiatives for the station. Since 2016, Jan Ross has served in a coordinating capacity for TPR’s state and national partners, including The Texas Newsroom.
David Martin Davies can be reached at dmdavies@tpr.org and on Twitter at @DavidMartinDavi