[lastfm]Roy Orbison[/lastfm] was born April 23, 1936. He spent his childhood in Texas and sang in a rockabilly / country & western band in high school. In the 1960’s, 22 of his songs placed on the US Billboard Top Forty, including “Only the Lonely“, “Crying“, “In Dreams“, and “Oh, Pretty Woman“. Orbison’s popularity declined in the late 1960’s but then saw a strong resurgence in both 1987 and 1988. He was at that time initiated into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by [lastfm]Bruce Springsteen[/lastfm].
Although Orbison is counted as a rock and roll pioneer, and has been cited by numerous critics as one of the genre’s most influential musicians, his style was noted for how it departed from the norm. Rock and roll in the 1950s was defined by a driving backbeat, heavy guitars, and lyrical themes that glorified youthful rebellion. However, very little of what Orbison recorded met these characteristics. The structure and themes of his songs defied convention, and his much-praised voice and performance style were unlike any other in rock and roll. Many of his contemporaries compared his music with that of classically trained musicians, although Orbison never mentioned any classical music influences. Author Peter Lehman summarized it, writing, “He achieved what he did not by copying classical music but by creating a unique form of popular music that drew upon a wide variety of music popular during his youth”.
Today would have been Roy Orbison’s 74th birthday. He died too soon, of a heart attack, on December 6, 1988 at the age of 52.