Many people assumed Roy was going blind, but he was anything but. His trademark dark glasses he began wearing in 1963, just before a British tour with The Beatles.
Roy died of heart failure at his mother's house in Hendersonville, TN on December 6th, 1988. He was visiting family for the holidays while on break from the road.
He was a huge influence on many artists, including John Lennon, Mick Jagger, and Tom Petty.
His wife was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1966. Two years later, two of his sons died in a fire.
Elvis Presley and The Beatles both opened shows for Orbison early in their careers.
He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.
Along with Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison, Orbison was a member of The Traveling Wilburys.
Roy's first American hit single was recorded in 1956 for Sam Philips' Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee. Entitled "Ooby Dooby," it eventually made it into the Top 60 in 1956.
Orbison's hair was never naturally black. He merely dyed it that color to fit into his "Man In Black" image. Roy's hair was actually dark brown.
The "Roy Orbison Club," managed from her home in Harold Hill near Romford, Essex, UK, by Maggie Finch, ran from 1963 to 1978, the year of Maggie's husbands' death. (thanks, Russtti - London, England, for above 3)
Roy Orbison was a keen painter and made model aircraft to competition level. One of the last things he did on the day he died was fly his model airplanes. (thanks, Marc - Liverpool, England)
Music scholars have suggested that Orbison had a three- or four-octave range and his powerful, impassioned voice earned him the sobriquet "the Caruso of Rock." In fact it is claimed that The Big O and Enrico Caruso were the only 20th century tenors capable of hitting E over high C.