(1 August 1957 - 6 June 1966) (her death) (3 children)
Roy Dewayne Orbison (April 18, 1958 - September 15, 1968), Anthony King Orbison (June 29, 1962 - September 15, 1968) and Wesley Orbison (born 1965)
The band ultimately split over disputed writing credits and royalties, but Orbison stayed in Memphis and asked his 16-year-old girlfriend, Claudette Frady, to join him.
He found a modicum of success at Sun Records and found his way into Elvis Presley's social circle, once going to pick up a date for Presley in his purple Cadillac. Orbison sold "Claudette", a song he wrote about Frady, whom he married in 1957.
Touring in 1963 took a toll on Orbison's personal life. His wife Claudette began having an affair with the contractor who built their home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Their friends and relatives attributed it to her youth and that she was unable to withstand being alone and bored; when Orbison toured Britain again in the fall of 1963, she joined him. He was immensely popular wherever he went, finishing the tour in Ireland and Canada. Almost immediately he toured Australia and New Zealand with the Beach Boys and returned again to Britain and Ireland, where he was so besieged by teenage girls that the Irish police had to halt his performances to pull the girls off him. He continued to tour, however, and visited Australia again, this time with the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger later remarked of a snapshot he took of Orbison in New Zealand: "A fine figure of a man in the hot springs, he was."
Orbison also began collaborating with Bill Dees, whom he had known in Texas. With Dees, he wrote "It's Over", a number 1 in the UK, and a song that would be one of his signature pieces for the rest of his career. When Claudette walked in the room where Dees and Orbison were writing to say she was heading for Nashville, Orbison asked if she had any money. Dees said, "Pretty woman never needs any money". Forty minutes later, "Oh, Pretty Woman" was completed. A riff-laden masterpiece that employed a playful growl he got from a Bob Hope movie, the epithet Orbison uttered when he was unable to hit a note ("Mercy!"), and a merging of his vulnerable and masculine sides, it rose to number 1 in the fall of 1964 in the U.S. and stayed on the charts for 14 weeks; it hit number 1 in the UK as well, spending 18 weeks total on the charts. The single sold over seven million copies. Orbison's success was greater in Britain; as Billboard magazine noted, "In a 68-week period that began on August 8, 1963, Roy Orbison was the only American artist to have a number-one single in Britain. He did it twice, with 'It's Over' on June 25, 1964, and 'Oh, Pretty Woman' on October 8, 1964. The latter song also went to number one in America, making Orbison impervious to the current chart dominance of British artists on both sides of the Atlantic."
"Oh, Pretty Woman" proved the pinnacle of Orbison's career in the 1960s. Following its release, he endured some upheavals. He and Claudette divorced in November 1964 over her infidelities, though they remarried in August 1965.
His reconciliation with Claudette occurred when she went to visit him while he was recuperating from the accident. Orbison was fascinated with machines. He was famous for following a car that he liked on sight, and making the driver an offer on the spot. He had a collection worthy of a museum by the late 1960s. He and Claudette shared a love for motorcycles; she had grown up around them, but Orbison claimed Elvis Presley had introduced him to motorcycles. However, tragedy struck on June 6, 1966, when Orbison and Claudette were riding home from Bristol, Tennessee. She was struck by a semi-trailer truck and died instantly.
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