Entertainment » Vol. 21

Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection

Legacy Recordings Celebrates the 75th Year of Rock n Roll Legend Roy Orbison with
Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection

By Rick Garner

ent-roy-orbison-copyLegacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, is celebrating the 75th birthday (April 23, 1936) year of Roy Orbison with the long-awaited release of Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection, a 2 CD/1 DVD set including all the A&B sides recorded by Orbison for the groundbreaking Monument label during an electrifying peak from 1960-1964.  Restored to pristine mono mixes for the first time since their original 7″ vinyl releases, Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection presents The Big O’s core classic catalog the way it is meant to sound. Also released was the single CD, Roy Orbison – The Monument A-Sides.

A small independent record label enjoying modest successes in the late 1950s, Monument Records grew to become a major force in American rock and roll, country, jazz and rhythm & blues, its label identity synonymous with its biggest star, Roy Orbison.  Other artists on the Monument label have included Kris Kristofferson, Boots Randolph, Dolly Parton, Ray Stevens, Tony Joe White, Charlie McCoy, Willie Nelson and others.

The 75th birthday commemorative release of Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection includes the first-ever DVD release of Orbison performing nine songs from “The Monument Concert 1965,” including the official video for “Oh Pretty Woman,” digitally restored for especially for this collection.

Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection includes liner notes by Roy Orbison Jr. and features new interviews with Fred Foster, Joe Melson, Bob Moore and others.

Best recognized around the world for his otherworldly voice and black sunglasses. Roy Orbison was both rock & roll pioneer and prototypical singer-songwriter, beginning with his first high school band (the Wink Westerners/Teen Kings) and shifting into mass consciousness in the 1960s with a string of singles for the Monument label that defined an artist and helped launch a label.

Orbison ~ along with a short list that included Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins ~ was one of the undisputed originators and architects of rock & roll at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records. Orbison cut his first chart hit (it reached #1 on the local charts), “Ooby Dooby,” for Sun in 1956, staying with the label for two years before a brief stint at RCA in 1958.

Roy Orbison signed with the newly emerging independent label Monument Records in mid-1959. While his second single for Monument, “Uptown,” became his biggest hit as a performer since “Ooby Dooby,” it was Orbison’s third single for the label, “Only The Lonely (Know How I Feel),” which unveiled to the world the true artistry of Roy Orbison. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, crossed over to #14 on the Billboard Black Singles chart, and rocketed up to #1 on the UK charts.

Orbison followed up the breakthrough with a pair of respectfully  charting singles ~ “Blue Angel” (#9 Pop, #23 Black) and “I’m Hurtin'” (#27 Pop) ~ before knocking it out of the park with “Running Scared,” his first USA #1 Pop.

Next came an unbroken four-year string of Top 40 Hits ~ “Crying,” “Candy Man,” “Dream Baby (How Long Must I Dream),” “Working for the Man,” “Leah,” “In Dreams,” “Pretty Paper,” “Blue Bayou,” ” Mean Woman Blues,” “It’s Over” ~ during which Roy Orbison became America’s top-selling recording artist and one of the world’s most celebrated entertainers.

Orbison played shows with Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, Jimmy Page, the Eagles, Bruce Springsteen, Chris Isaak, and many, many others; both the man and his music had a profound effect on them all. The monumental 1963 Roy Orbison World Tour, which featured Patsy Cline (in the weeks just before her death) as a support act in the states, helped break the then-rising Beatles (Orbison fans themselves who’d recorded Roy’s hit “Dream Baby” for a BBC radio broadcast in 1962) when they played support on the European leg of the tour.  Orbison’s profound musical and emotional influences can be heard in early Beatles singles (e.g. “Love Me Do” after “Candy Man,” “Please Please Me” after “Only The Lonely,” “Daytripper” after “Oh, Pretty Woman”).

Roy Orbison was one of the few established hit-makers from the late 1950s and early 1960s to not only hold his ground, but to actually increase his popularity in the wake of the British Invasion. He maintained his popularity through music which displayed an extraordinary variety of themes, structure, tempo and rhythm and an authentic, emotional connection that transcended mere craft, exemplified in his signature classic, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” recorded on August 1st, 1964. Written by Orbison with his new writing partner Bill Dees, “Oh, Pretty Woman” became Roy’s biggest hit and is one of the most recognized and popular songs of all time. Released in August 1964 in the US and in September of that year in the UK, the song hit the #1 slot in virtually every country in the world where people had record players, selling some seven million copies that year.

And this was only the beginning….

Ahead of Roy were 23 world tours, 12 albums for MGM, his starring role in the 1967 MGM feature film “The Fastest Guitar Alive,” the 1988 all-star Cinemax special “Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night,” The Traveling Wilburys (with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne), the Class of ‘55 reunion album (with Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins), television appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “Austin City Limits,” his 1988 Mystery Girl album, the 1992 posthumous collection King of Hearts (produced by Jeff Lynne), the posthumous hit singles “You Got It” and “I Drove All Night,” not to mention lawsuits, deaths, fires, tragedies, and Grammy awards.

When Roy Orbison died in 1988, he had two albums in the Billboard Top 5. In 1990, the “Pretty Woman” film soundtrack topped the charts.  In 2010, Roy Orbison got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in front of the Capitol Records Building alongside John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and Garth Brooks.

“Orbison…transcended all the genres ~ folk, country, rock and roll or just about anything.  His stuff mixed all the styles and some that hadn’t even been invented yet…. He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business.” Bob Dylan, Chronicles Vol. 1

“Roy’s ballads were always best when you were alone in the dark. They were scary. His voice was unearthly…. I always wanted to sing like Roy Orbison…” Bruce Springsteen

“…. Roy Orbison! It was only because we were with Roy Orbison that we were there at all.  He was definitely top of the bill…  What a beacon in the southernmost gloom. The amazing Roy Orbison.” Keith Richards, Life

“Roy the singer, people talk about him all the time, everyone curtsies to the voice, and so they should.  The thing people don’t talk about enough as far as I’m concerned is how innovative this music was, how radical in terms of its songwriting. As I become more interested in songwriting, you hit a wall where Roy Orbison is standing.”  Bono, 1999
RoyOrbison.com, Facebook.com/royorbison

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