On December 6, 1988 : Roy Orbison
dies at the age of 52.
On a cold day in December of
1988, Roy Orbison complained of chest pains in his mothers home
in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He was rushed by ambulance to the
Hendersonville Hospital, where he died later that evening on December
Roy Orbison possessed one of
the great rock and roll voices. He sang heartbroken ballads and
bluesy rockers alike, running up a formidable hit streak in the
early 60's. From the release of "Only the Lonely" in
1960 to "Oh! Pretty Woman," a span of four years, Orbison
cracked the Top Ten eight times and had 19 top 40 entries for
Monument through 1964. Orbison's most memorable performances were
melodramatic ballads, such as "Crying" and "It's
Over," which he sang in a brooding, tremulous voice. The
melancholy in his songs resonated with listeners of all ages,
but especially heartsick teenagers who knew how it felt to lose
And Roy Orbison was no stranger
to loss of love himself. In 1966 a tragedy almost finished his
career when his wife Claudette was killed in a motorcycle accident.
Two years later, a house fire killed two of his three children
in his Hendersonville home. The double blow destroyed Orbison's
creativity, and he abandoned songwriting altogether.
The remarkable collection of
work recorded by Roy Orbison is tied not to any one decade but
virtually to the entire lifespan of rock 'n roll. He began his
career in the '50's, a friend and contemporary of Elvis Presley;
he shared billings in Britain with the Beatles in the '60's; saw
his works covered by the likes of Linda Ronstadt in the '70's;
watched as his classic, In Dreams became a keystone of David Lynch's
film Blue Velvet.
At the time of his death, Roy
Orbison was enjoying a renewed popularity with the Traveling Wilburys.
His posthumous album Mystery Girl (1989), became the biggest selling
album of his illustrious career.
His last performance was on
Dec.4 in Cleveland- appropriately, the future home of the Rock
and Roll Hall of Fame
Roy Orbison remains as one of
the rock's truly legendary figures: a consistent talent whose
influence grows with each passing year.