The Golden Voice: Roy Orbison

Signature glasses, unforgettable sound, and a tendency towards the tender.

He wasn’t the only sixties star in dark sunglasses, but Roy Orbison stood out for his powerful yet caressing voice—in an age when rock and roll meant a rollicking masculine persona, Orbison succeeded with vulnerability. Technically, his voice was a treasure: almost four octaves, each more powerful than the last. Because of his strong falsetto and rich timbre, Orbison was known as the “Caruso of Rock,” a title he deserves if for nothing else than the final, belted high A in “Running Scared.” Today, Orbison is best known as the growling, stomping singer behind the libidinous hit “Oh, Pretty Woman,” but in our minds, he remains the rockstar of the reticent, an immensely talented singer unafraid to show that he, too, was sometimes scared, hurt, and bewildered.

Photos by Photo: ITV/REX USA