Rhapsody in Black
Rhapsody in Black
The Life and Music of Roy Orbison
by John Kruth
MONTCLAIR, NJ—Despite Roy Orbison’s singular voice and style, no one thought the skinny kid from Wink, Texas with no chin and math-geek glasses was capable of maintaining any star power, but his singing has inspired everyone from Springsteen to k. d. lang. He even laid the very foundation for goth with his jet-black hair, pale skin, and Ray-Ban Wayfarers. Today, everyone recognizes the songs “Pretty Woman” and “In Dreams,” the latter of which Bono said he considers “probably the greatest pop song ever written,” but while fascinating from a pop culture standpoint, it is Orbison’s life’s journey that makes a great story that had yet to be told to its fullest.
Rhapsody in Black: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison (May 2013, $27.99, Backbeat Books) by John Kruth is a complete biography of Orbison’s life from the first yodel of little Roy discovering his voice to his death at age 52. This biography doesn’t shy away from or trivialize the personal pain, alienation, and tragic events that shaped Orbison’s unique personality and music.
For this publication, John Kruth conducted new interviews with more than 20 people who worked closely with Orbison throughout his life: Harold Bradley, Buddy Buie, Charlie Calello, Cowboy Jack Clement, Bill Dees, Fred Foster, Ronnie Gant, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Bobby Goldsboro, Carolyn Hester, Sammy King, Al Kooper, Dave Marsh, Charlie McCoy, David McKinley, Bill Moody, Bob Moore, Kittra Moore, “Cousin” Brucie Morrow, Bonnie Raitt, Syd Straw, Richard Thompson, and Terry Widlake. Finally, Rhapsody in Black concludes on “A Selected and Highly Opinioned Discography.”
Roy Orbison wasn’t merely a singer but a sonic alchemist who, in the end, transformed unfathomable human misery into transcendent melody and platinum records.
John Kruth (New York City), whose previous books include To Live’s to Fly: The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt (winner of the 2008 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award) and Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, is also a musician with nine solo albums to his credit. He has performed and recorded with Ornette Coleman, Laurie Anderson, John Cale, Violent Femmes, and Garth Hudson and Rick Danko, among others. Kruth’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, the Progressive, Wire, Wax Poetics, and Sing Out! A Professor of music, Kruth currently teaches at Manhattan College and the College of Mount Saint Vincent.
May 14, 2013
6″ x 9″
Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group