Roy Kelton Orbison
was born on April 23, 1936 at 3:30 pm, in Vernon, Texas. Nadine, his mother, was a nurse. Orbie Lee, his father, a worker. Roy was their second child. For his sixth birthday, Roy asked for a harmonica, but fortunately his daddy gave him a guitar. Orbie Lee is generally credited with teaching Roy to play guitar. However, he also learned from Charlie Orbison, Orbie Lee's brother, and Kenneth Schultz, brother of Nadine's. Together with Clois Russell, Orbie Lee's neighbor and workmate, they would often play and sing. The first song Roy ever played was the classic "You Are My Sunshine". He learned very quickly, so that way he could stay up late with the grown-ups and sing.
The Orbison family moved to Forth Worth sometime in 1942. In Forth Worth, they found employment in the munitions and aircraft factories that had been expanded due to America's entry into World War II. But due to epidemic polio in 1944, Roy and his elder brother Grady were sent back to live with their maternal grandmother, a divorcee, in Vernon. Roy Orbison wrote his first song "A Vow of Love", in front of his grandmother's house the same year. In 1945 he entered and won a contest on KVWC in Vernon and this led to his own radio show singing the same songs every Saturday. In 1946 a medicine show came to town and Roy entered the talent contest singing "Mountain Dew" and "Jole Blon", and tied for first place with a 15-year-old kid. The total prize was $15, so he got $7.50 and gave his buddy half of that for carrying his guitar.
When the War was over, the family re-united in Vernon and soon moved out west to Wink, Texas, in late 1946. He formed his first band when he was thirteen, in 1949. They called themselves The Wink Westerners.
In 1951 Roy had been appearing regularly on KERB radio in Kermit. By 1953 the band, got their own show on KERB sponsored by local businessmen one day a week before school. The Wink Westerner's first appearance was at one of the school assemblies. They were also featured on the KERB Jamboree on Saturday afternoons with local Country & Western bands. The first songs they played were "Kaw-liga", "Mexican Joe", "Caribbean", and "Under the Double Eagle". But they were not only country, little by little they began playing and making string arrangements for Big-Band standards and instrumentals like "In The Mood" or "Little Brown Jug" as well as Pop standards. During the summer, Orbison would work for the County shoving tar, or work in the oil fields chopping steel or painting water towers. He used to be part of the marching band and singing octet, and at some point or another tried to play the baritone horn. He even had become the manager of Wink High school's Kittens football team in 1952.
At one of the band's gigs in McCamey's Lions Club, somebody offered them to play a dance and pay them for it. The pay for that gig was as good as a hard working week's pay, so they agreed to do it even though they only knew 4 or 5 songs. They learned some more tunes in a rush practicing at the Community Center, and started getting paid for what they liked doing. They were invited to tour West Texas with R. A. Lipscomb who was running for the office of district governor of the Lions Club in 1953. They attended the 36th International Lions Club Convention in Chicago from July 3rd to July 11th of that year... Together with Mr. Lipscomb, they all stayed at the Conrad Hilton Hotel and the Wink Westerners performed in the front lobby. Roy graduated from Wink High in June 1954 and signed up to attend the fall seminar at the North Texas State College in Denton, returned home for Christmas and played the New Year Dance on December 31st 1954 with the Wink Westerners.
Wade Lee Moore and Dick Penner where two college friends of Roy's at Denton and they had written "The Ooby Dooby". Dick Penner arranged for them to record his song at Jim Beck's studio in the outskirts of Dallas, Texas, which is South-East of Denton. Beck had been instrumental in the discovery of Lefty Frizzell and Marty Robbins for Columbia Records, so the band headed for Dallas to record "Ooby Dooby" and "Hey, Miss Fannie" which appears to be a duet of Roy Orbison and James Morrow. The session took place at some point during the summer of 1955 before the boys returned to West Texas. Roy was convinced that they would be signed to Columbia Records, which never happened. … Visit: www.royorbison.com