Dave Hoekstra visits with Alex Orbison, son of the legendary Roy Orbison for a talk about the late singer/songwriter’s life and work, and the path that led to his unearthing of a lost Roy Orbison album, “One of the Lonely Ones“. He also talks about the personal tragedy that led his father to write the record’s songs, Roy’s contemporary presence and more.
UDISCOVER: NEW ORBISON VIDEO: ‘ONE OF THE LONELY ONES’
It’s amazing to think that One Of The Lonely Ones, a full-length album recorded by Roy Orbison in 1969, remained unreleased for over 35 years, only finally emerging in December 2015, alongside the epic The MGM Years 1965-1973. Recorded during a period of personal crisis (in a tragic two-year period he lost his wife Claudette in a motorcycle accident and two of his children in a house fire), the One Of The Lonely Ones sessions, recorded between January and August 1969, clearly offered personal catharsis for Orbison.
The title song from that album now re-emerges with a video, created by husband-and-wife duo Michael and Alana Lawrence. Filmed at the Las Vegas strip club Little Darlings, it features groundbreaking burlesque dancer Tempest Storm in one of her rare performances since officially retiring in 1995, aged 67. Adding extra poignancy to the film, the 87-year-old legend is a striking presence, filmed getting ready in the dressing room before stepping out on stage to perform to a near-empty room. With a dash of Twin Peaks styling, the film offers a meditation on isolation, mortality and loneliness.
Burlesque legend Tempest Storm stars in the brand new video for the title track of a brand new Roy Orbison album that had remained unreleased for 46 years. “One of the Lonely Ones.” The single and the album were recorded at a pivotal time in the life of Roy Orbison. Roy was trying to emerge from the despair he suffered after two of his sons perished in a house fire while he was away on tour, this after losing his wife Claudette, the mother of those children, in a motorcycle accident barely two years earlier.
The video, directed by the husband and wife team of Michael and Alana Lawrence (billed as Daya & Wolf, here), was shot on location at Little Darlings strip club in Las Vegas, and stars Tempest Storm whose career trajectory in the prudish 1950s and early ‘60s broke new ground in glamour and erotica. Ms. Storm, born Annie Banks in Eastman, Georgia, 87 years ago, celebrates her 22nd birthday – she was born on leap year day 1928 – this coming February 29th. Romantically linked to Elvis Presley and the star of such films as Paris After Midnight (1951), Striptease Girl (1952), French Peep Show (1954), Teaserama (1955) and Buxom Beautease (1956) she was coaxed out of retirement to portray a character broadly based on herself. Tempest Storm is the subject of a feature length documentary currently in production.
Michael Lawrence commented, “For months, my wife and I had been obsessing over the idea of using a mature woman in one of our films. Roy Orbison has had a great effect on both our lives long before now. His music gives insight into the human condition, and his own life. Alana became fixated with the intrepid burlesque dancer Tempest Storm, 87, beautiful, and with a lifetime of stories. Equally fascinated, we intertwined both characters in the story – our image of Orbison’s words and Tempest’s beauty. We gravitated towards creating lush, cinematic visuals that truly captured the essence of the lyrics. Rather than create a dense narrative, we wanted to create a film that was more open-ended, with room for interpretation and speaks to one’s idea of loneliness and lost love. The neon light, aching lust, and heartache that fill a strip club seemed to best capture the emptiness. There is universality to this story. It is striking, when listening to the lyrics, to witness one’s older self on that same journey, walking into the night, in search of whiskey and good company.”
Link to view “One of the Lonely Ones”:
Alex Orbison who, along with his brothers Wesley and Roy, Jr., runs Roy’s Boys, the family company that oversees the Roy Orbison catalogs, recently commented to Southern California Public Radio about his father and the song the video highlights, “I know ‘One Of The Lonely Ones’ was one of the first ones out of the gate that he had written. I think it had enabled him to get further and get a grasp on his situation,” a reference to the loss of his two children in the house fire.
One of the Lonely Ones, Orbison’s “lost” album, was recorded between January and August of 1969 but never released, and thereafter forgotten. Alex, Roy Jr. and Wesley discovered the album when they were preparing for the release of The MGM Years 1965 – 1973 box set (13 CDs/14 LPs) that chronicles the numerous album and singles released from Orbison during his amazingly prolific tenure with MGM Records. One of the Lonely Ones, a testament to Roy’s unparalleled ability to turn heartbreak into art, has been released on its own and has come to be an international phenomenon. It was been warmly accepted in the UK where, at the dawn of their career, the Beatles toured with Orbison as his opening act. The album recently broke into the top 40 of Australia’s ARIA album chart. Germany is another fervent market for this very special Orbison release. Roy’s second wife and mother to Alex and Roy, Jr., was born Barbara Wellhöner Jakobs, and a native of Bielefeld, Germany. She married Roy in 1969 during an interval between recording sessions for the album that would become One of the Lonely Ones. Barbara went on to manage her husband’s career including his collaboration with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Bob Dylan as The Traveling Wilburys. Both “You Got It,” Orbison’s massive hit single and the Mystery Girl album of which it was part, were released after his tragic death in December 1988. Barbara Orbison ran the family’s business until her death in 2011, exactly 23 years after that of her husband.
One of the Lonely Ones was transferred from the original tape at the famed Blackbird Studio in Nashville, TN, and the tracks were individually mixed by Chuck Turner (whose credits include Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss and Marty Stuart) at the Cash Cabin under Alex Orbison’s supervision. Finally, the restored-to-stereo tracks were put in the capable hands of Richard Dodd for mastering.
“YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE” by Roy Orbison
From One of the Lonely Ones, the NEW Roy Orbison album from 1969-
KPCC The Frame: Roy Orbison’s son revives his father’s long lost album, ‘One of the Lonely Ones’
Roy Orbison was known for his black shades, an operatic voice and powerful ballads, but to Alex Orbison he was “Dad.” Now, there’s an album from the legendary singer’s career that Alex and his brothers are releasing for the first time.
“One of the Lonely Ones” was recorded in 1969 in the wake of the death of two other of Orbison’s sons in a tragic fire, but it hasn’t been heard by many people until now.
Alex Orbison joins John Horn to discuss the joy of reviving his father’s lost music.
“One Of The Lonely Ones” was recorded in 1969, but was never released. What happened to it?
To understand Rob Orbison’s life in 1969, you need to back up just a little bit to 1968. Things seemed to be looking up for my dad. He was touring the U.K. and he met a young girl named Barbara, who would become Barbara Orbison, who was my mom. Tragedy struck in September 1968 and burned down our family and killed my two oldest brothers. His life grounded to a halt and he didn’t do anything until the first of 1969.
So the “One Of The Lonely Ones” sessions started in January and they went hot and heavy until March. The MGM record deal called for three records a year and they had three records that year. So “One Of The Lonely Ones” got pushed out of the schedule.