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Roy Orbison

January 26th, 2014 by jomo

One of the good things about being a teenager who hadn’t grown
up there in Midland, Texas, in 1957 was Roy Orbison. Roy’s 1956
hit of Ooby Dooby on the Sun label, made him the local rock
and roll celebrity, although he was from out in the oil patch at
Wink, and was considered more of an Odessa-sort-of-guy. Since he
was not of the Midland oil-gentry, I felt a kindredship with him.

He had TV shows on both KMID-TV (Midland) and KOSA-TV (Odessa)
with his band, the Teen Kings: drummer, bassist, and saxophone,
with Roy on guitar. Both stations produced bland featureless sets,
with two camera setups, and TV standard shadowless lighting. Roy
hadn’t yet adopted his dark shades, and his coke bottle glasses
with the studio lights cast strange defractions of light on his
face. His throat, the source of his phenomenal range, was obviously
strange, flat and wide.

His band members were all skinny and frenetic. The drummer was a
constant blur in the background. The sax player up front was a
contortionist. But it was the bass player who balanced Roy for
focus. He was all over that upright – whacking it, humping
it, spinning it and dancing, his coattails flapping in the breeze.
(That bass player later worked for my Dad as a butcher in his
grocery store.)

I particularly remember one night (although I watched all of his
shows) over at a friend-named-Meadows’ house, as we tried to
break into his folks’ liquor stash.

Another night I was out with a fellow with music business
connections(Who Wears Short Shorts?) and we were lining our
empties up across the road and a Cadillac approached. It stopped
in front of our dead soldier barricade, reversed, did a 3-point
turnaround and left. Ray said that it was Roy. Maybe not, but we
cherish our brushes with greatness, no?

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