Elvis Presley gave Roy Orbison the highest compliment imaginable


This weekend, on April 23, 2023, marks what would have been Roy Orbison’s 90th birthday. The American rocker was enormous in the 1950s. The star – otherwise known as The Big O – was renowned for bringing Rock and Roll to the forefront of the music industry, and was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Rockabilly music. Elvis Presley loved him, and was inspired by him as a teenager. He adored the Pretty Woman singer so much that he gave him the highest compliment the King of Rock and Roll could give.

Roy was iconic for a number of reasons. On top of always sporting denim and a leather jacket (a new trend, at the time), he also had slicked-back black hair and always wore Ray-Ban sunglasses while playing his guitar – a powerful look that would define a generation. Parts of this look were also adopted by Elvis through the years.

After looking up to Roy for so long, Elvis eventually got to tour around the USA with him for a few weeks, where they bonded and played music together.

Throughout his career, Roy sold more than 7 million albums worldwide, which, at the time, was an even more impressive feat than it is now.

After touring for some time together, Elvis and Roy parted ways, but the King always thought highly of the incredible singer.

In fact, when he started playing music at his Las Vegas residency slot in the 1970s, he spoke candidly about Roy.


During these Las Vegas shows, Elvis covered a number of songs, including tracks from The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Dolly Parton and more.

But when the topic of Roy came up, he refused to cover any of the star’s songs.

He reportedly told audiences he could not “sing any of Roy’s songs any better than the original recordings”.

Elvis went on to compliment the singer, adding Roy had “the most perfect voice”.

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Elvis’ respect for Roy was not one-sided, though. The singer attended as many of Elvis’ live shows as he could from 1954 to 1976.

He also reportedly opened for Elvis in the 1960s when he was still touring.

What’s more, Roy also opened for The Beatles in the 1960s when they toured throughout the USA. This makes Roy the only artist who opened for both The Beatles and Elvis Presley.

Roy even wrote a song for Elvis, but it didn’t go as planned.

Roy was a prolific songwriter and penned many of his own tracks.

So when he started writing Only the Lonely, he knew it would be a perfect fit for Elvis.

But when he turned up at Graceland to hand-deliver the song, he was told by a bodyguard that Elvis wasn’t in, and he likely “wouldn’t be interested”.

After failing to pitch the same song to The Everly Brothers, Roy eventually sang and recorded the song for himself. It reached number one and became one of his biggest hits.


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