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Roy Orbison

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Vernon TX, United States (1954 – 1988)

Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988), nicknamed “The Big O”, was an influential American and a pioneer of , whose recording career spanned more than four decades. By the mid-1960s Orbison was internationally recognized for his ballads of lost love, rhythmically advanced melodies, three-octave vocal range, characteristic dark sunglasses, and sometimes distinctive usage of , typified in songs such as “Only the Lonely, “Oh, Pretty Woman”, and “Crying”. In 1989, he was inducted posthumously into the National Academy of Popular Music/Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Two common misconceptions about his appearance stubbornly continue to surface about Orbison: one, that he was an albino, and two, that he wore his trademark dark glasses because he was blind or nearly so. Neither is correct, although his poor vision required him to wear thick corrective lenses (He suffered from childhood from a combination of hyperopia, severe astigmatism, presbyopia, anisometropia, and strabismus). Orbison’s trademark sunglasses were a fashion statement arising from an accident early in his career. Due to go onstage in a few minutes, Orbison left his regular glasses in an airplane. Unable to see without corrective lenses, the only other pair of glasses he had available were darkly tinted prescription sunglasses. “I had to see to get onstage,” so he wore the glasses throughout his tour with the Beatles, and he carried on with it for the rest of his professional career. “I’ll just do this and look cool.”

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