The legendary artist Roy Orbison was recognized by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 34-years ago today.
Bruce Springsteen does the induction of Orbison in 1987 at the ceremony. Springsteen’s speech talks about the time he opened for Roy Orbison in Nashville, among other memories of Orbison.
“In 1970, I rode for fifteen hours in the back of a U-haul truck to open for Roy Orbison at the Nashville Music Fair. It was a summer night and I was 20 years old, and Orbison came out in dark glasses, a dark suit and he played some dark music,” Springsteen recalls, according to RoyOrbison.com.
Springsteen goes on to say that he was listening to Roy Orbison’s All-Time Greatest Hits before he went into the studio to record Born To Run.
“Orbison’s voice was unearthly. He had the ability, like all great Rock and Rollers, to sound like he dropped in from another planet and yet get the stuff that was right to the heart of what you were livin’ in today, and it was how he opened up your vision,” Springsteen says. “I wanted to make a record with words like Bob Dylan, that sounded like Phil Spector’s productions, but most of all I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now, everybody knows that nobody sings like Roy Orbison.”
Additionally, at the ceremony, Orbison performs his iconic song, “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Alongside the legendary artist is Bruce Springsteen and The Rock Hall Jam Band.
Roy Orbison, ‘The Big O’
The iconic musician, singer, and songwriter earned the nickname of the Big O. The name came from some of his critics because of Orbison’s vocal style. He was known for his heartfelt singing style, complex song structures, and dark, emotional ballads.
Some think that the Big O was blind because of his dark, thick-rimmed glasses. Orbison wore the glasses because he was shy and had stage fright.
Orbison has many iconic songs that we often forget are his like, “Oh, Pretty Woman,” “You Got It,” “I Drove All Night,” and the list goes on. The Big O often recorded songs about vulnerability and love. When other artists during this time were trying to prove their masculinity.
As many artists do, their time fades in the spotlight. However, Orbison made a comeback in popularity in the 1980s. Various artists were starting to cover his songs. Then in 1988, he co-founded the Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Jeff Lynne. That year in December, Orbison died of a heart attack at the age of 52. However, just one month later, his song “You Got It” was released as a solo single. It was Orbison’s first track to reach the Top 10 in nearly 25 years.
In addition to his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Orbison is also honored by the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum. Orbison also received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, plus five other Grammys. Additionally, Rolling Stone places him at number 37 on its list of the “Greatest Artists of All Time” and number 13 on its list of the “100 Greatest Singers of All Time”.