Friday, November 2, 2012

Oh, Pretty Woman

I don't claim that Oh, Pretty Woman is the best rock song ever (it might be).  I have always said, however, that Oh, Pretty Woman is the perfect rock and roll song.

After all, what are the elements that make up a great rock song?  A compelling guitar riff?  A driving beat?  A woman?

Yup ~ this song's got it all.  Plus, it has one helluva singer.

Bill Dees died on October 24.  Bill Dees co-wrote Oh, Pretty Woman with Roy Orbison.

Dees, who died in Arkansas last week at age 73, had said writing that song with Roy Orbison in 1964 changed his life.

In a 2008 interview with National Public Radio, Dees recalled that the night they penned the hit song, Orbison told him he wouldn't need to go to work that Monday if he didn't want to. 

'He said, "Buy yourself an electric piano, and I'll take you on the road with me." And he said, "I'll pay you what the band's getting."''

Dees went on to tour Europe and perform on the Ed Sullivan Show with Orbison, with whom he also co-wrote numerous other songs, including 'It's Over,' which also was a No. 1 hit.

Dees said in a 1970 interview with the Amarillo Globe-News that he first met Orbison when he performed in Amarillo, Texas. 

Dees went to Nashville twice in 1962 to work with Orbison, then decided to move his family there in 1964, traveling in a 1955 Pontiac.

'My wife and I decided that we would go as far as the car would take us,' Dees told the newspaper. 'If it broke down before we got there, we would save money and move further on later.'

They made it to Nashville, where the car soon broke down — and Dees said he had to use his overcoat as payment to get the car towed to a mechanic, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

Dees didn't initially seek out Orbison after moving to Nashville because he wanted to establish himself without help, according to a biography on Dees' website. But the pair reconnected, and with Orbison, Dees crossed Europe and twice went to England.

'I was shocked when we got off the plane in London, and there was like 10,000 people there at the airport meeting the plane,' Dees told NPR. 'It was like The Beatles when they came over here.'

They appeared with The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and played on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Dees continued to write songs and perform, and released his first solo album in 2002, 'Saturday Night at the Movies,' which includes songs he wrote with Orbison.


I wonder how many times, how many bar bands, have performed Oh, Pretty Woman.  I'm guessing about 358,000,000 (give or take).

If a songwriter can claim that (and how many actually can?), I guess he can call himself a success.


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