Day 270: Oh, Pretty Woman

Song: “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison
Reached #1: September 26, 1964 (his second, 3 weeks)
Previously: Day 157


When we first saw Roy Orbison a few months back, I mentioned that his first #1 wasn’t his signature hit.  No, that would wait for his second (and final) #1.

Actually, “Oh, Pretty Woman” wasn’t only Orbison’s final #1 hit in the USA, it would be his last Top Ten hit until his comeback (with the Traveling Wilburys) and his posthumous hit “You Got It” (#9 in 1989).

In the UK and Australia, he continued to pile up top 10 hits through the early ‘70s.  This really isn’t surprising when you realize that the Beatles once opened for Orbison on a pre-Beatlemania package tour of the UK (although, in reality, they were the main attraction, even if Orbison was scheduled last).  In fact, during the height of Beatlemania, Orbison was the only American artist to reach #1 on the official UK charts for over a year in 1963-64.

The song itself came from a wisecrack Orbison’s co-writer, Bill Dees, made while they were working – Orbison’s first (and second) wife, Claudette, came into the office to announce that she was heading for Nashville.  Orbison asked if she had money for the trip, and Dees piped up with “Pretty woman never needs no money”.  Less than an hour later, “Oh, Pretty Woman” was ready for recording.

Orbison’s own “pretty woman” was dead two years after the song came out – shortly after they remarried following a 1964 divorce, Claudette was hit by a truck in 1966.  In 1968, his two oldest sons with Claudette died in a house fire.  In 1969, he married a German girl he met on tour – they stayed together until Orbison’s far-too-early death from a heart attack at the height of his 1988 comeback.

Tomorrow, a woman who’s made her personal demons the centerpiece of her music career…

Other songs that reached #1 on September 26:
1960 –
“My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own” by Connie Francis (her second, 2 weeks)
1987 – “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” by Whitney Houston (her fifth, 2 weeks)


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