Monday, 27 June 2011

Roy Orbison sings “Crying” in a duet with KD Lang

                                 Roy Orbison at his younger day
‘Crying’ won a coveted Grammy award for best country collaboration vocals for Roy and KD in 1989; it was also the theme song for the movie ‘Hiding out’ shown to public in 1987. Amidst critical acclaim by popular song writers and musicians, fans and followers, ‘Crying’ placed the two powerful songsters with their individual distinctive style to their career height of their time in the 80s. The song was sung and played in a melancholic tone, with a slow beat in its rhythm that culminated to a gradual stronger vocal to captivate listeners with superfluous elements of infatuation between two lovers. It certainly echoed the sentiments of two persons entwined in passionate love, with stunning effect.  Older fans would have flushed with fever over their cheeks in reminiscence of their younger days when they were courting and wooing their sweethearts. Roy Orbison, who composed this master piece invited Canadian national treasured songbird KD Lang for a duet to present this song in a unique, opulent way to reach the hearts of millions of listeners.

Click the URL of the Youtube video clip, sit back and enjoy this song made popular by these two great artistes:

                                  Roy during his youthful days

                           4 times Grammy award winner KD Lang of Canada
4 times Grammy award winner Kathryn Dawn Lang, better known as, and preferred to be known KD Lang by the singer/composer and sometimes actress herself, was born in 1961 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada where she was raised. Her father, a drug store owner, left home when KD was 12 to a younger wife, leaving her and three other siblings, 2 sisters and a brother to her mother. KD was a known gay and had a live-in lesbian woman companion to whom KD introduced to others as ‘my wife’. She loved to dress up like a man as always when she performed on stages; despite she portrayed some glamour when she was younger with a little bit of feminism. KD Lang had been a gay rights activist, a campaigner for AIDS victims and a Tibet human rights supporter, as well as a fervent vegetarian. She was so elated when being invited by Roy Orbison for the duet that she accepted the role right away. She described Orbison as one person who was very humble and obliging, and extremely polite. That guy was a rare gem amongst established and famous artistes who were top class of their own standard. KD continued to talk about Roy’s idiosyncrasy: I was so glad to know him and we were close to chat like old friends; but when he went up to the stage to perform, he was the super star that’s very much above us. There he was singing with his unique baritone voice, barely opened his mouth, hardly moved his body, yet the vocal was so powerful that it sent a chill down everyone’s spine on the stage when he sang.

Roy Orbison (April 23rd 1936-Dec 6th 1988) could easily be identified with his pair of large framed Ray-Ban sunglasses which he wore most of the time; he was rarely seen without his signature spectacles. His other well-known masterpieces includes Pretty Woman, Only the lonely, In Dreams, That Loving you feeling again, Blue Bayou and many more. His contemporaries who had worked with him when touring, back up musicians who themselves were super stars, extolled him unreservedly to a heavenly high, branding him a legendary singer/songwriter of all time since 1957 for rock and roll, and rhythm and blues. In 2008, Orbison was rated as no.13 in their list of 100 greatest singers of all time by the authority pop magazine Rolling Stones. He, after all had been winning Grammy Awards multiple times. The singers/songwriters, rock stars and musicians who praised highly on Orbison’s works were many, read like a pop magazine’s who’s who; they were: Pat Boone, Elvis Costello, Bee Gee’s Robin Gibbs, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles, George Harrison and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, Bono of U2, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen (Roy’s longtime admirer), Beach Boys, and Mick Jagger etc. Their comments and compliments could fill the contents of a 300 page book. Bruce Springsteen, known for his moniker ‘The Boss’ had this to say on Roy’s performance: 

Sometimes it is hard to tell is she a lady from her dressing
                                      KD Lang in men's outfit looking imposingly

“I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison. Now everyone knows that no one sings like Roy Orbison……” Springsteen was concluding his speech in initiating Orbison’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987. Glenn Campbell, Bruce Springsteen, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris etc recorded songs of Roy Orbison’s composition and they all achieved high rating in the radio charts. No wonder praises out of gratitude were abundant to Orbison as he felt ‘validated’ at a time when he suffered some tragedies and health problems. He was at his career decline to the ebb though there was a revival 1969 onwards till his demise.  

                         Record cover for his wonder hit "Pretty Woman"

Roy Orbison lamented that he did not have a manager to promote his image and to groom him into a pop idol. His large pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses (Roy and all his siblings had bad eye-sights), his dark black suit and a heavy Gibson duo cut-away guitar were his usual trade marks when he performed. Occasionally he used a twelve stringed Epiphone acoustic for his strumming while rendering those tremulous, lovelorn ballades. Though he was a natural baritone to a tenor, he could deliver his vocal to a range of high 3-4 octaves, and that was amazing and a God-sent gift. 

An impersonator of Orbison
doing Roy's jig

In 1963 Roy joined the Beatles in UK for a top billing tour after he flew in from The US; He was surprised at the massive popularity the quartet enjoyed. Since he was not the main draw he performed first. The audience went wild with his mastery of the guitar works and was mesmerized by his sumptuous rendition of romantic ballades he composed. The Beatles at the backstage were dumbfounded into complete silence as they watched him performing from a short distance, song after song as he sang. After responding to 14 encores amidst shouts of ‘We want Roy, we want Roy!’ John Lennon and Paul McCartney physically restrained Roy from going back to the stage the 15th time! The Beatles were shocked and concerned that their premier act could be overshadowed by this American guy from Tennessee (He was born and raised in Texas though). Ringo Starr remembered Roy’s act very vividly. He recalled: In Glasgow, this chap was out there singing in his black suit, completely motionless, his lips hardly moved, yet he received such tremendous applause with his natural flair. Eventually Orbison and The Beatles formed a strong kinship as they admired each other’s work. Particularly in George Harrison, Orbison found him to be friendlier as they were both distinguished guitarists.
                     Two good friends Roy & Bruce Springsteen
                      playing guitars and singing 'Pretty Woman'

Roy Orbison’s life had been marred with tragedies and ill-health in his later part of life. In November 1964 he and his wife Claudette divorced because of her infidelity, perhaps due to his long absence while touring, and the fact that she was young and feeling bored. She was having an affair with the contractor who was engaged to build their dream home in Hendersonville, Tennessee. In 1965 Roy broke his leg while riding a motorcycle in front of thousands of screaming fans. He performed his evening act in a cast. Claudette visited him in UK and they reconciled and remarried in the same year. However ill-fate destined that they could not be together for long as she died during a mishap when they were riding home in Tennessee on their motorcycle. During that June 1965 tragedy, their motorcycle was hit by a semi-trailer truck, and Claudette was killed instantly. In 1968 while touring in England, Orbison’s two elder sons perished in a fire that burnt his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee to ashes. His youngest son with Claudette was raised by his parents. In March 1969 he married a German teenager Barbara Jacob who gave birth to his two other sons in 1970 and 1974.
                                Roy and his young wife Barbara Orbison
Roy Orbison had been a chained smoker since his youth and he could not quit it even at a time when his health was sliding downwards. In 1977 he underwent triple bypass surgery and upon recovery, he continued to smoke. His weight fluctuated for the rest of his life. In the month of December 1988, Roy Orbison was back to Tennessee from UK for a break of few days from his hectic schedule, as there seemed to be a strong indication of his resurgence of stardom. He was accepting endless interviews by radio stations, TV channels, magazines and was producing videos of his performance in UK. Roy was quite apprehensive and was looking forward for a revival of his prime just like during the 60s-70s. Unfortunately he suffered a major heart attack at his mother’s home in Tennessee on December 6th 1988. Roy Orbison died of work related exhaustion at the comparatively young age of 52.

Roy Orbison left an indelible legacy of brilliant song writings and numerous unforgettable performances. His poignancy in merging voice, simple yet touching lyrics, and crafty guitar playing captivated throngs of fans and admirers; these were the profound elements that stood testimony for his timelessness. 

Article written by
Alan CY Kok 

Roy Orbison's biographic facts were obtained from Wikipedia

Click this URL: to enjoy this evergreen song of a hopelessly infatuated love.

Lyrics for “Crying”

I was all right for a while, I could smile for a while
But I saw you last night you held my hand so tight
As you stopped to say hello
Oh, you wished me well, you couldn't tell
That I've been crying over you, crying over you
And you said, so long
Left me standing all alone
Alone and crying, crying, crying, crying
It's hard to understand but the touch of your hand
Can start me crying

I thought that I was over you
But it's true, so true
I love you even more than I did before
But darling, what can I do
For you don't love me and I'll always be
Crying over you, crying over you

Yes, now you're gone and from this moment on
I'll be crying, crying, crying, crying
Yeah, crying, crying over you



  1. THANK YOU SO MUCH for remembering Roy Orbison, his life & music. He was a king and gentle man, unfortunately with so sad and tragic destiny! INFO: the pictures titled with:"Roy and his old faithful Gibson Semi-solid guitar-Duo Cut Away ES-335" and "A humble, obliging and well mannered legendary singer /songwriter of R&R" are NOT Roy Orbison, but one of his impersonators w.wide.

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