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the big ‘O’

The voice of Roy Orbison – once heard, never forgotten – is one of my earliest memories of listening to pop music.

His 1964 hit ‘Pretty Woman’ has it all – emotion, of course, was his trademark, but here you also get acting (‘Mercy’), and even a purring cat thrown in.

I was a bit too young for his early hits like ‘Only The Lonely,’ ‘Crying’ and ‘It’s Over,’ and it took me a while to get to grips with the melodrama attached to his best work.

Yet you only have to look at the line-up backing him on ‘Black & White Night’ recorded shortly before his death in 1988 to see how revered he was by younger musicians.

His part in the Traveling Wilburys also meant that his career gained a late boost, and it’s great that his voice was given more contemporary material on which to show its paces.

Falsetto never sounded so bittersweet.

Tonight’s BBC4 documentary ‘The Big ‘O’ in Britain’ is one I missed the first time around in 2008.

Never was an artist more suited to being seen in black and white.

Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman

Roy Orbison – Mystery Girl

Roy Orbison: The ‘Big O’ in Britain – BBC iPlayer

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