Saturday, December 13, 2008

Your Vinyl Destination

By Robert Benson

I am now writing for and thought that you might enjoy an article I wrote for the station about the great Roy Orbison:

Roy Orbison

To many, Roy Orbison is best known for his highly successful single “Oh, Pretty Woman.” But Orbison’s career spanned many decades and he was an accomplished songwriter and legendary performer. Let’s explore the life of this music legend:

Roy Orbison was born in Vernon, Texas in 1936 and music quickly became an important element in his life. His father gave him a guitar when he was six years old and by the age of thirteen he organized his first band called “The Wink Westerners,” which was named after the town that his family had relocated to. The band had some success on local television and was allotted 30 minute weekly shows.

It was at one of these shows where Orbison met one of his guests, a man named Johnny Cash. Cash advised him to try and get a contract with record producer Sam Phillips of Sun Records. Phillips would turn them down at first, but relented and added the band to the Sun roster after hearing a recording that was created at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, N.M. The band was renamed “The Teen Kings.” Orbison left for college in March of 1956 and ultimately headed for Sun Records in Memphis to pursue a career in music.

His first commercially successful song came in June of 1956 with the Rockabilly single called “Ooby Dooby” (which was written by friends of Orbison). His song “Claudette” (named after his first wife) was recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1958 and was included as the B-side to their smash hit, “All I Have To Do Is Dream” (Claudette peaked at #30 in May of 1958).

However, Orbison’s breakthrough hit was “Only The Lonely,” which was a 1960 #2 hit in the US as well as #1 hit in the UK. Orbison had met songwriter Joe Melson and liking the way that Melson incorporated melodic twists and lyrical styling into his songs, asked him to write with him. Together, they created the unique sound that Orbison would soon be famous for; the dramatic rock ballad.

Orbison also scored a #1 US hit in 1961 with the song “Running Scared,’ as well as scoring another #1 hit in the US with the cut “Crying,” an almost over-the-top ballad that featured his brilliant and now internationally famous warble.

In 1963, he headlined a tour with the Beatles, but was soon demoted to the opening act. Nonetheless, he developed lifelong friendships with the band, especially George Harrison and John Lennon. In fact, Orbison encouraged the Fab Four to come to the United States and try and sell their sound.

When the British Invasion broke out in 1964, Orbison was one of the few who survived. His single, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” actually broke the Beatles stranglehold on the Top Ten, catapulting to the #1 position in August of 1964 (where it would remain for three weeks). In fact, the record sold more copies in the first ten days than any other single up to that time and would go on to sell more than 7 millions copies.

The song was written in one afternoon while Orbison and his songwriting friend Bill Dees were working. Orbison’s wife at the time, Claudette, was leaving to do some shopping when Orbison asked her if she needed any money; to which Bill Dees interjected, “A pretty woman never needs any money.” They both thought that it would make a great song title and by the time that Claudette returned home from her shopping trip, the duo had written the now legendary song.

Many people often wonder if Orbison had eye problems which forced him to wear sunglasses, even at night. He did not have a specific eye ailment; the sunglasses actually became part of his persona by pure accident. You see, after flying in to Alabama for a performance, Orbison accidently left his regular glasses on the plane and didn’t realize he had his sunglasses on until the evening; but by then he had no choice, he had to wear the sunglasses or no glasses at all and not be able to see. So he went onstage wearing the dark glasses and the next day he flew to England to tour with the Beatles. Again, he was forced to wear the sunglasses and photographs of him and the Beatles circulated worldwide, and, although it was all unplanned, he was stuck with the new image and kept it throughout his amazing career.

In 1965, Orbison left Monument Records opting to move over to MGM, a label that promised him more money. Unfortunately, he would not make the Top Ten in the US again until 1989 when his collaboration with the Traveling Wilburys (Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and George Harrison) netted him a #9 hit with the cut “You Got It.”

But Orbison was a world-wide music sensation and he remained very popular in Europe and Australia. In fact, his cut “Working For The Man” topped the Australian charts and the song “Too Soon To Know” peaked at #3 in England. He was also very popular in Germany, actually recording his hit song “Mama” in the native tongue. In France, he was viewed as the master of lost love ballads and a cover version of his 1963 hit, “Blue Bayou” (#29 on the Billboard Top 40 chart and a #3 hit for Linda Ronstadt in 1977), that was performed in French by Mireille Mathieu topped the French charts. Additionally, fans in the Netherlands formed his largest worldwide fan club.

Personal tragedy, sadly, was also a part of Orbison’s life. In 1966, he lost his wife Claudette to a motorcycle accident and a couple of years later, while he was away on a tour of England, he lost two of his sons to a terrible house fire that destroyed his home in Tennessee. His third son was miraculously saved by his parents.

Orbison was obviously devastated and to try and block out all his pain by touring constantly. In 1969, he remarried and started a new family, but he did not perform in the United States again until 1977.

The 1970’s were a down time for Orbison, although he continued to tour and release music, the albums did not fare as well as his previously released material. He tried his hand at country music with the LP “I’m Still In Love With You,” and also released the album “Regeneration” in 1976. Things got so bad that in 1979, Orbison even attempted releasing a disco music album called “Laminar Flow.”

In the 1980’s, Orbison’s career enjoyed a rebirth of sorts. He collaborated with Emmylou Harris on the song, “That Lovin’ You Feeling Again,” which would go on to win the 1981 Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group. He also recorded the song “Wild Hearts” for inclusion in the film “Insignificance” and the song “In Dreams” was included in the David Lynch movie “Blue Velvet.” He also re-recorded his 1961 hit “Crying” as a duet with k. d. lang for the movie “Hiding Out” (which would earn him another Grammy Award). All these things helped Orbison regain his popularity.

His 1987 HBO Special, “Roy Orbison and Friends” was accompanied by a who’s-who supporting cast including musical director T-Bone Burnett, pianist Glen Hardin (who had played with Buddy Holly and Elvis), guitarist James Burton (also played with Elvis), background singers Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt and Jennifer Warnes. All loved Orbison and lobbied to participate and the special helped Orbison gain the attention of a younger generation.

Shortly after the performance, he teamed up with the previously mentioned rock stars (Lynne, Harrison, Dylan and Petty) to form the Traveling Wilburys, who achieved mass commercial appeal and success. He also recorded a new solo LP, “Mystery Girl,” which yielded his last hit “You Got It.”

Sadly, during the afternoon of December 6, 1988, after spending time shopping for model airplanes (a hobby throughout his career and one he thoroughly enjoyed), he complained of chest pains and was rushed to a hospital in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Roy Orbison died shortly thereafter.

Roy Orbison is fondly remembered by millions of fans for is ballads of lost love and his creative songwriting abilities. His voice was also unique, an instrument of melodic invention. Let’s explore some this legendary rock and roll artist’s achievements:


Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1987)
Songwriter's Hall of Fame (1989)
Grammy Awards (1980, 1988, 1989, 1990)

#1 hits:

"Running Scared" (1961)
"Oh, Pretty Woman" (1964)

Top 10 hits:

"Only The Lonely (Know How I Feel)" (1960)
"Crying" (1961)
"Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream)" (1962)
"In Dreams" (1963)
"Mean Woman Blues"(1963)
"It's Over" (1964)
"You Got It"(1989)

"Mean Woman Blues"(1963)

"That Lovin' You Feelin' Again"(1980)
"You Got It"(1989)

Other important recordings: "Ooby Dooby," "Leah," "Blue Angel," "Candy Man," "I'm Hurtin'," "Workin' For The Man," "Blue Bayou," "Falling," "Pretty Paper," "She's A Mystery To Me," "I Drove All Night," "Not Alone Any More" (Traveling Wilburys)

Wrote or co-wrote: "Claudette," The Everly Brothers; "Bad Boy," Sue Thompson; "Down The Line," Jerry Lee Lewis; "I'm In A Blue, Blue Mood," Conway Twitty; "See Ruby Fall," Johnny Cash

Covered by: Linda Ronstadt, Don McLean, Van Halen, Del Shannon, Chris Isaak, k.d. lang, The Hollies, Waylon Jennings, Glen Campbell, Expose, Buddy Holly, Slim Whitman

Appeared in the movies: "The Fastest Guitar Alive" (1967), "Roadie" (1980), "Roy Orbison and Friends: Black & White Night" (1988), "She's Having a Baby" (1988), "Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll" (1987)

Selected vinyl record values

78 rpm

SUN (242 "Ooby Dooby") 250-350 1956
SUN (251 "Rockhouse") 200-300 1956
SUN (265 "Sweet & Easy toLove") 200-300 1956
SUN (284 "I Like Love") 300-400 1958

45 rpm

SUN (242 "Ooby Dooby") 40-60 1956
SUN (251 "Rockhouse") 40-60 1956
SUN (265 "Sweet and Easy to Love") 100-200 1956
SUN (284 "I Like Love") 125-150 1958
SUN (353 "Sweet and Easy to Love") 30-50 1961
(Yellow label.)
SUN (353 "Sweet and Easy to Love") 50-75 1961
(White label. Promotional issue only.)


MONUMENT (14002 "Lonely and Blue") 400-600 1961
MONUMENT (14007 "Crying") 400-600 1962
MONUMENT (4002 "Lonely and Blue") 100-200 1961
MONUMENT (4007 "Crying") 50-100 1962
SUN (1260 "At the Rock House") 500-700 1962


Classic Rock Videos

The Animals - Don't Bring Me Down

Album Cover Art

We made it- we are now into the Top Ten list of the dirtiest and sexiest album cover art as complied by the crack staff at Let's look at what made number ten on their list (Gigwise comments in quotes):

10. Pulp: ‘This Is Hardcore’ – "Accompanying an album that, at times, dissected the seedy, grimy side of the sex business, Jarvis Cocker and co. opted for a sleeve of a porn star in mid-act. At first, it looks like a highly erotic cover, but when you couple it with the album title track’s lyrics and the vacant expression on the said woman’s face, it takes the sting out of it."

Pulp's "This Is Hardcore" is arguably the first pop album devoted entirely to the subject of the long, slow fade. This is a bold move because it breaks one of rock's oldest songwriting taboos. Rockers have always fled from the prospect of aging and ignored the mundane details of survival. Even when the Beatles took on the subject, they did it as a lark: "Will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?" Pulp, on the other hand, dive right in. "Help the aged," Jarvis Cocker sings on the album's first single, "one time they were just like you."

So far, Pulp's chief impact in the United States has been as the band whose leader (Cocker) disrupted a Michael Jackson performance at a British awards ceremony. But Pulp have been at it since 1983, when they were mere teens out of working-class Sheffield, England. It took them a decade to make much of a splash, but their 1995 breakthrough, Different Class, sounded like nothing else on the Brit-pop landscape. With flamboyantly catchy tunes and wry lyrics that commented on everything from rave culture to social snobbery, the album was a defining moment in U.K. pop.

On This Is Hardcore, the band expands on that promise with an album that is less bright and bouncy but that is even more daring and fully realized. From the doorstep of middle age, midthirtyish singer and lyricist Cocker looks to his future with a mild case of nausea, even as drummer Nick Banks, keyboardist Candida Doyle, bassist Steve Mackey and guitarist Mark Webber keep the pop champagne fizzing. Cocker writes songs about aging nightclubbers driving themselves to the brink of exhaustion to feel more "alive" ("Party Hard"), a father shamed by the example he has set for his son ("A Little Soul") and the recognition that the singer has become "the man who stays home and does the dishes" ("Dishes"). GREG KOT~Rolling Stone

This Date In Music History-December 13


Ted Nugent is 60.

Lou Adler (who produced the Mamas & the Papas) turns 75.

Guitarist Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of the Doobie Brothers (1948)

Randy Owen, Alabama (1949)

Berton Averre, The Knack (1952)

Tom Hamilton, bass, Aerosmith (1951)

Amy Lynn Lee, vocals, Evanescence (1981)

Tom Delonge, Blink 182 (1975)

Robert Martinez, ? & The Mysterians (1945)

Jamie Foxx R&B singer and pianist (1967) Academy Award winner in 2005 for his performance of musician Ray Charles in Ray.

They Are Missed:

The Guess Who's guitarist Kurt Winter died in 1997.

Zal Yanovsky of The Lovin Spoonful died of a heart attack in 2002.

Pigmeat Markham ("Here Comes The Judge") died in 1981.


Elvis Presley's "It's Now Or Never" set a new record in the UK in 1960 for achieving one million sales just six weeks after its release.

The Beatles signed with manager Brian Epstein in 1961 (though Brian never signs the contract).

The Rolling Stones' request to put on a three day show for 100,000 fans on Easter Island was denied by the government of Chile in 1975, who said "the whole future of the island" would have been damaged.

In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Wedding Album crashed on to the Billboard album chart at #182.

In 1999, the performing rights group BMI proclaimed that the most-performed song of the century was the Righteous Brothers' 1965 #1 hit "You've Lost That Loving Feeling."

Foghat's "Slow Ride" was released in 1975.

The two surviving members of Nirvana, Krist Novoselic and David Grohl, filed a countersuit against Courtney Love in 2001. The charge was that she had manipulated the memory and work of her dead husband, Kirk Cobain, for the benefit of her own career.

The Beatles performed at the Cavern Club, Liverpool in 1961, playing two shows at lunchtime and then again at night. Decca Records' Mike Smith attended the night performance with the intent of offering The Beatles a recording contract.

Kenny Roger's Greatest Hits started a two-week run at #1 on the US album chart in 1980.

Jimi Hendrix made his TV debut on ITV's 'Ready Steady Go!' in 1966 (Marc Bolan was also on the show). The Jimi Hendrix Experience also recorded 'Foxy Lady' on this day.

After scoring a US Top 20 hit in 1962 with "She Can't Find Her Keys" earlier in the year, 17 year old Paul Peterson re-entered the charts with "My Dad", which would reach #6. The former Disney Mouseketeer and cast member of the TV's Donna Reed Show would go on to found A Minor Consideration, an organization committed to changing the working conditions for child performers.

Bruce Hornsby and The Range topped the Billboard chart in 1986 with "The Way It Is", a song that refers to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

In 2006, New York police arrested Koral Karsan and charged him with first-degree attempted grand larceny for allegedly trying to extort $2 million from John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono. The 50 year old Karsan had worked for Ono as a chauffeur for over six years.