Roy Orbison

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  • Inducted by:
    Bruce Springsteen
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Warbly yet forceful, vulnerable yet strong, grandiose yet intimate—Roy Orbison’s voice happens once in a generation.

Orbison showcased his vocals with unconventionally written songs that ranged from operatic ballads to rockabilly jams. He is revered by the likes of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan.

Hall of Fame Essay


Michael Hill

Roy Orbison almost gave away “Only the Lonely” before recording the song himself in 1960; it was to be the first in a string of nine Top Ten hits that culminated in the summer of ’64 with “Oh, Pretty Woman.”

Although Orbison had worked in the studio with some of the seminal producers at the dawn of rock and roll-with Norman Petty in Orbison’s native Texas, with Sam Phillips in Memphis and with Chet Atkins in Nashville—before ‘ ‘Only the Lonely’ ’ he was better known as a writer than as a recording artist and had not yet embarked on his collaboration with Fred Foster on the Monument label, which would make him a worldwide star.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Program 1987
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His arrangements were complex and operatic, but they had rhythm
Bruce Springsteen

Photography: Janet Macoska