Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rhapsody in Black- The life and music of Roy Orbison (Backbeat Books)

I don’t own any albums by Roy Orbison (except the Travelling Wilbury’s) but I have always heard he had a very interesting life, having grown up in west Texas near New Mexico.  I came into this book pretty blind about Roy but wow. What an amazing talent and it started so early. He was already playing and singing on live on the radio, even doing a rare song of his own, when he was just 9 years old!  Lots of stuff I never knew about the guy. The book is written in a very easy to read style and pretty much takes his life in chronological order.  There are 15 chapters, a discography and biography at the end of the book. Chapter 2 about his recording with Sun records and the other artists on the label, who all mostly self destructed or terrible things started to happen to them in the late 50s that disrupted or fucked up their music career, was very interesting and well written. By chapter 7 his life is a shambles as his wife has died in a motorcycle accident and two of this there sons die in a fire in the basement of his house (lives next door to Johnny Cash). He would less than a year later marry another teenage girl from Germany that he met in the UK and they would stay together the rest of his life and produce two more sons. He really suffered to make the music he really wanted to though as he made 12 records for MGM and then to other labels but always really overproduced and too many cover songs. His best music that was truely his own was made in the early days on Monument Records. It seems that Roy was just not good at telling people what he wanted and would always take the easy way out. He never drank or did drugs but was heavily addicted to nicotine and candy bars and by his early 40s was having weight and heart problems.  It is a very interesting story and this book really lays it out as a great read with a good flow. I enjoyed it a lot and would highly recommend this book. 


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