Tribute to The Big O

Roy Orbison
Roy Orbison
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On May 25, 1963, I attended the City Hall for what I hoped would be one of the best concerts of my life.

Unfortunately, hordes of screaming girls ensured that I could hardly hear one of the headline acts, The Beatles.

They came on after the interval, but thankfully, prior to that, I was able to hear the best voice I have ever heard singing live, on stage, that of Roy Orbison.

The contrast in listening terms was as broad as it could have been.

For Roy Orbison you could have heard a pin drop, but for The Beatles, you would have struggled to hear a bomb drop.

It was incredible to witness the mastery that The Big O, had over his audience, though he barely spoke, and hardly opened his mouth when singing, even the highest notes.

His run of hits from, Only The Lonely, Crying, In Dreams, etc. kept the fans enthralled, and when he sang the dramatic, Running Scared, that builds up to a great climax, I well remember the hairs rising on my arms, and the back of my neck.

It was a night to remember, and I also had the great pleasure of seeing him again, later that year.

After the mid 60s, his life, like his record releases had its ups and downs, but in the 80s he was once more enjoying the adulation of his fans, and peers alike, as he performed with the supergroup, The Travelling Wilburys.

Not only that, but he had a superb solo album out, Mystery Girl, that showed he was back to his best.

Sadly, he didn’t live long enough to fully enjoy his renaissance, dying of a heart attack, on December 6, 1988.

Had he lived, The Big O, would have been celebrating his 80th birthday on April 23.

To mark this event, I will be playing a number of his songs, when the Hillbilly Cats play their first Friday of the month gig, at The Railway Hotel, Wadsley Bridge, on Friday, April 1.

I will also feature the music of Eddie Cochran, who died in April 1960, not long after appearing in Sheffield, with Gene Vincent, plus a couple of tracks from another April departure, local singer Denis “D.C.’’ Smith.

Admission is free, so come along to enjoy live music, the aforementioned tributes, and make your own requests of songs from the 50/60s.

There will also be a tribute show to Roy Orbison, at the City Hall, on the night of his 80th birthday, April 23.

Mike Lawton

Grenoside