Historical Events  People
Roy Orbison

Sunglasses after dark

MMDE: Roy Orbison was blind

Current: Roy Orbison wasn't blind

Those trademark dark glasses are the first thing which comes to mind when most people picture Roy Orbison. This is causing some to claim he really was blind, and even when told it was just a stage act they swear he was and that act story is fake.

His amazing four-octave vocal range drew parallels with operatic greats such as Caruso, and his jet black clothes and hair were complemented perfectly by those dark glasses to create a legendary on stage image.

But blind? Anyone can see the real story here... ;-)

The Caruso of Rock

Often just referred to as "The Big O", Orbison was also nicknamed "The Caruso of Rock" after the worlds first recording star, Enrico Caruso, who' had an operatic vocal range which was often compared to Orbison's. He touted with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys amongst many other legendary musicians. He was one of the Travelling Willburys, which included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynn.

His stage act consisted of his trademark sunglasses, his guitar and him being largely motionless, a feature he intended by writing songs which largely didn't tend towards any dancing style.

He also starred in a movie, The Fastest Guitar Alive, which was considered a flop at the time, and although it was intended to be the first of a series of five, no more were made.

Orbison's career is clearly split into two parts. His 60's/70's period saw him rise to prominence on the Rock n Roll wave, but then fade as he himself felt out of touch by the way the music industry was headed:

I didn't hear a lot I could relate to, so I kind of stood there like a tree where the winds blow and the seasons change, and you're still there and you bloom again.

-- Roy Orbison

He claimed there was no-once more surprised than himself when his career unexpectedly took off again in the 1980's, where his work was in demand for movies such as David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Tours, and re-releases saw his popularity peak again by 1988, where he tragically dies of a heart attack.

Beatles tour

He started wearing the sunglasses in 1963 just before touring with The Beatles.He was forced to wear his prescription sunglasses on stage once because he left his regular, thick-framed ones on a plane. He found he preferred them, partly because even though he hid it really well, he suffered from stage fright and found they helped distance him from his audience more.

When asked about them, he said:

I wasn't trying to be weird, you know? I didn't have a manager who told me to dress or how to present myself or anything. But the image developed of a man of mystery and a quiet man in black somewhat of a recluse, although I never was, really.

There are a few other suprising facts about Roy Orbison. For example, he dyed his hair black because it was dark brown naturally.