Mercy! (Oh) Pretty Woman Hits 50

The most distinctive voice of the early rock years belonged to the Pride of Wink, Texas, Roy Orbison. His voice has been described as the space between the Baritone and the Tenor voices, 3 or 4 Octaves, a rare place in the vocal spectrum. Artists from Elvis to Dylan have commented on his sound and incredible falsetto.

On the radio we called him the “Big O,” “ Roy the Boy,” and other drivel, but the truth was that when you played a Roy Orbison record you really didn’t have to introduce him, because everyone knew at once whose voice was soaring up to the clouds. He had snow white hair that he died Elvis black, and sensitive, very poor eyesight for which he wore his trademark sunglasses…I always thought it was just because he was cool. Roy was cool enough to influence: George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne to form “The Traveling Wilburys,” and showcase Roy for a new generation.

Roy Orbison began as a songwriter and also wrote many of his hits, he took “Only the Lonely” to both Elvis and the Everly Brothers who turned it down, so he recorded it himself, and as Major Bill used to say, “A Cotton Pickin’ smash.” His producer, Fred Foster, sensed a Gold Mine and cut, “Crying,” and 22 other chart hits including, “Oh Pretty Woman.” Which brings us to the subject of this story, it’s the 50th anniversary of that great song, and we’ve found a great tribute to Roy and the Pretty Woman - check it out.

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