April 23: Rock and roll pioneer Roy Orbison was born on this date in 1936...

... he was only 52 when he died after a heart attack on December 6, 1988.

Roy Kelton Orbison was a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, guitarist and a pioneer of rock and roll whose recording career spanned more than four decades. He was rarely seen on stage without his trademark black sunglasses.

Orbison grew up in Texas and began singing in a rockabilly and country & western band in high school until he was signed by Sun Records in Memphis. His greatest success came with Monument Records in the early to mid 1960s when 22 of his songs placed on the US Billboard Top Forty. His many hits included "Ooby Dooby," "Only the Lonely," "In Dreams," "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Crying," "Running Scared" and "You Got It."

He was known for his smooth, but powerful tenor voice, which could jump three octaves with seemingly little effort. The combination of Orbison's voice and complex musical arrangements led many commentators to refer to his music as operatic, dubbing him "the Caruso of Rock."

In 1988, he, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty and Bob Dylan formed the super group Traveling Wilburys who recorded two albums, but sadly Roy had died before the 2nd album.


 EssentialRoy Orbison - Black & White Night (DVD & DVD Audio)Roy Orbison - 50 All Time Greatest HitsCollection

Orbison was a member of the second class entering the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. He was introduced by longtime admirer Bruce Springsteen. The same year he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone placed Orbison at number 37 in their list of The Greatest Artists of All Time, and rated him number 13 in their list of The 100 Greatest Singers of All Time in 2008. In 2002, Billboard magazine listed Orbison at number 74 in the Top 600 recording artists.

In 1989, he was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.