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   :05.04.11 10:10.:... Roy ..


Roy Orbison exhibit at the Grammy Museum: You Got It

On April 29, 2011, the Los Angeles based Grammy Museum on the campus of AEG Live will debut a new exhibit, Roy Orbison: The Soul of Rock-n-Roll. Housed on the Museums fourth floor, the exhibit will explore the life and legacy of music legend and cultural enigma Roy Orbison. The exhibit is launching in celebration of Orbisons 75th birthday year, giving a deep look into the man behind the trademark sunglasses.

It's not only the lonely that will want to check out this exhibit and celebrate his music. Roy Orbison has one of the most haunting and emotional voices in the history of American music, said Grammy Museum Executive Director Bob Santelli. His too brief, yet brilliant career still lives today, and deserves to be heard. Were pleased to re-introduce his music to his fans who recall the genius of his work, as well as introduce him to a new generation of fans.

Best recognized around the world for his falsetto voice, jet black hair and black sunglasses, Roy Orbison was both a rock and roll pioneer and prolific singer-songwriter, starting with his first high school band (The Wink Westerners) and shifting into mass consciousness in the 1960s with a string of singles for the Monument label that defined an artist and helped launch a label.

Orbison soon became one of the few established hit-makers from the late 1950s and early 1960s to not only hold his won ground, but to actually increase his popularity in the wake of the British Invasion, a feat not accomplished by many of his early contemporaries. He maintained his popularity through music thatas displayed an extraordinary variety of themes, structure, tempo and rhythm and an authentic, emotional connection that transcended mere craft, exemplified in his signature classic, "Oh, Pretty Woman," recorded on August 1st, 1964.

Orbison was the recipient of multiple Grammy Awards and received the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

Orbison's songs have become radio staples.

His songs have been covered by artists including Van Halen and Linda Ronstadt.

Bringing together more than 40 diverse artifacts, rare photographs and more, the exhibit features items from the private collection of Orbisons widow, Barbara, and family. On display, visitors will see a wide-ranging array of items, including: Orbisons prescription black-framed sunglasses, a handwritten set list, signed by Orbison, several of Orbisons guitars, handwritten lyrics and letters, Orbison ticket stubs, concert posters, fan memorabilia, and much more, including aselection of biographical films and archived footage.

"I am honored The Grammy Museum is remembering Roy, a man, who has so often been a total mystery. Now the world will have a glimpse into his life and a chance to know him through more than his music," said Barbara Orbison, Roys widow.

Roy Orbison: The Soul of Rock-n-Roll will be on display in The Grammyy Museums Special Exhibits Gallery through November 28, 2011.

Additionally, Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, is celebrating Orbison with the long-awaited release of Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection (1960-64), a 2-CD/1-DVD set including all the A&B Sides recorded by Orbison for the groundbreaking Monument label during an electrifying peak from 1960-1964. Restored to pristine mono mixes for the first time since their original 7" vinyl releases, Roy Orbison: The Monument Singles Collection (1960-64) presents the classic catalog the way it's meant to sound.

In addition to his vast solo catalogue, Orbison was also known for his timeless recordings with the Travelling Wilburys, featuring Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan and the late George Harrison.

Collecting Rob Orbison memorabilia is a popular activity for his fans. Authorized items can be purchased at the official Roy Orbison website.

The Grammy Museum is located at 800 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite A245, and Los Angeles, CA 90015. With an entrance off of Figueroa Street, the Museum resides within the L.A. Live campus, at the intersection of Olympic Boulevard and Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles.


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   :12.04.11 10:08.: ..


Album: Roy Orbison, The Monument Singles Collection: 1960-64 (Monument Legacy)

It's long been conventional to regard the gap between the fading of rock'n'roll's 1950s thunderclap and the first landing of the British Invasion in 1964 as a sort of taste vacuum in pop.

Which is cobblers. The evidence? Motown, Chuck Berry, the Everlys and the Big O: the first stirrings of the gothic in rock, not to mention the first incidence of unadulterated grace. This set teams all the A-sides with their Bs and, in one edition, brings you a live DVD from 1965. Sigh.


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   :18.04.11 10:11.:Damien Leith release..

Damien Leith releases Roy Orbison cover to coincide with the singer's 75th birthday

WHEN Damien Leith hit that signature high note in the Roy Orbison classic Crying during Australian Idol, he sealed his destiny.

Five years later and with the blessing of Orbison's widow Barbara, Leith is paying tribute to the Big O with his fifth record Roy, released yesterday. It is the only tribute sanctioned by Barbara to be released worldwide to mark what would have been Orbison's 75th birthday.

"It was extremely nerve-racking but when I gave Barbara the music, she gave me the courage to go for it," he said.

Like elite athletes, singers also have to train to undertake the vocal gymnastics required. While Leith has put his own musical spin on Pretty Woman, In Dreams and Only The Lonely, he knew the real test would be to hit the notes that have made these songs so popular.

"I did lots of training, scales and other vocal exercises. Those high notes are quintessentially Roy and you have to sing them," he said.


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   :21.04.11 09:50.: . A..


A Monumental Talent (Billboard magazine Feature) April 23, 2011 edition

On The 75th Anniversary of the Birth of Roy Orbison, a New Set of His Singles on Monument Records Highlights a yearlong celebration.


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   :22.04.11 10:01.: ..

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Roy Orbison's Top Hot 100 Hits: A Playlist

The top 10 highest-ranking songs of Roy Orbison's career span nearly three decades, from his breakthrough "Only The Lonely (Know How I Feel)" in 1960 to his final smash, "You Got It," in 1989. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of his birth, Billboard.com presents a playlist of his top hits on the Hot 100.

1. Oh, Pretty Woman Debut Date: 8/29/1964

2. Only The Lonely Debut Date: 6/6/1960

3. Crying Debut Date: 8/14/1961

4. Running Scared Debut Date: 4/10/1961

5. Mean Woman Blues Debut Date: 9/7/1963

6. In Dreams Debut Date: 2/9/1963

7. Dream Baby Debut Date: 2/17/1962

8. You Got It Debut Date: 1/21/1989

9. It's Over Debut Date: 4/11/1964

10. Blue Angel Debut Date: 9/19/1960


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   :25.04.11 08:48.:HAPPY 75TH BIRTHDAY,..


HAPPY 75TH BIRTHDAY ROY ORBISON! Be sure to watch and share this wonderful video today while you play your favorite Orbison tunes. MERCY!!! Stay tuned, as the celebration doesn't stop


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   :25.04.11 09:13.:Roy Orbison's Wi..

Roy Orbison's Widow Recalls His Love of Music, Style and Film on His 75th Birthday

He dressed like he was in mourning. His life was marked by tragedy, and his biggest hits were exquisitely broken-hearted. Yet Roy Orbison, who would have been 75 on April 22, led a rich, happy, contented life before his premature death in 1988.

"He'd say, 'They need one man to be sad and lonely, and they gave me the crown,'" says the singer's widow, Barbara Orbison. Like his peers, such as Bob Dylan and Keith Richards (both of whom were in awe of the farsighted Texan in the thick glasses), Orbison knew he had a role to play.

Not that he was fond of it. He had his sons, his dogs, his classic cars. "I have the greatest life," Barbara recalls her husband saying.

After years of rehashed greatest hits collections, Mrs. Orbison, with help from Roy Jr., has just overseen the release of 'The Monument Singles Collection.' The two-disc, one-DVD package restores to the original mono mixes all of the Big O's lush, astonishing songs from his creative peak in the early 1960s -- 'Crying,' 'It's Over,' 'Only the Lonely' -- and their B-sides.

"I told them, I can't do another 'Greatest Hits,'" she says. "I'm here to do one thing -- to pass on the history of this incredible man and artist called Roy Orbison."

The German-born Barbara Wellhoener Jakobs married the singer in 1969, three years after his first wife, Claudette (pictured on the left), died in a motorcycle accident, and just a year after the tragic deaths of two of his sons in a house fire. Roy and Barbara had two sons together, Roy Jr. and Alex, drummer for the L.A. band Whitestarr, and they raised Wesley, Orbison's surviving son from his marriage to Claudette.

Though he was known for wearing dark glasses, Roy loved movie theaters. On tour, he often rented cinemas after hours so he and his crew could watch first-run films after a gig.

"In fact, his close friends would have told you he probably should have been a director," says Barbara.

His eye for storytelling spilled over into his songwriting. "That's what he did -- he told a story in song," says his widow. Whether 'Running Scared' or 'Oh, Pretty Woman,' his best songs were artful vignettes.

"He saw," says Barbara, pictured on the left. "That's what Roy was really great at." When he forgot his reading glasses and wore his sunglasses onstage for the first time, he knew instantly he'd created a look: "When the photos came back, he knew what he had. He was very sure-footed as an inventor."

After a brief period with Sun Records, Sam Phillips's rockabilly label, in the 1950s, Orbison almost singlehandedly redeemed the early 1960s from the era's treacly pop hits with his elegant, almost operatic productions. He headlined tours with the bands that would soon dominate the rock 'n' roll resurgence, from the Beach Boys to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

Bruce Springsteen, an unabashed fan, inducted Orbison into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. When the Traveling Wilburys formed on a lark, the members of the supergroup -- Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, ELO's Jeff Lynne -- all bowed to the master singer. (In 'Chronicles: Volume One,' Dylan wrote that his friend "transcended all the genres ... He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop.") And when Orbison recorded his extraordinary comeback album, 'Mystery Girl,' Bono and the Edge contributed a song, as did Elvis Costello.

"Roy transitioned well from the '50s into the '60s," says his widow. "In the '70s he was basically rebuilding a life. He didn't want to do anything except be somebody in love, with a little money and lots of fun. By the '80s, he was ready again."

When he recorded 'Mystery Girl,' which would be released two months after his death, he knew he had to deliver an album that stood up to the Monument singles. "He never had a throw-away hit," Barbara says. "He either had a hit, or he didn't."

If he were alive today, she says, her late husband would say he had yet to write his best song. Considering the songs he left behind, that'd be quite a statement.


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   :26.04.11 09:43.:Bob Dylan 70th birth..

Bob Dylan 70th birthday countdown, No. 44-Orbison passed on 'Don't Think Twice'

Roy was an opera singer. He had the greatest voice. - Bob Dylan after the death of Roy Orbison.

Roy Kelton Orbison, a.k.a. "Lefty Wilbury", was born on April 23, 1936 in Vernon, Texas.

In the embedded video on the lower left, you can hear him talk about how he passed on recording Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right".

The clip is from a celebration of the 1985 release of Dylan's Biograph collection, at the Whitney Museum in New York, three years before the formation of The Traveling Wilburys. Orbison died soon after that collaboration, on December 6, 1988.

There is also a quote from Dave Stewart about how his first professional gig featured only Dylan compositions.


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   :27.04.11 10:03.:How Roy Orbison and..

How Roy Orbison and His Epiphone 12-String Made Rock n Roll History

A problem many exceptional guitar players have with songwriting is choosing chords that are right for the melodic and harmonic path of the appropriate vocal performances.
And then there was Roy Orbison, a master of both picking and structure with a vocal method that was the American roots music equivalent of Carusos literally a voice for the ages.
Although Orbison was most often seen with a Gibson ES-335 on stage, for songwriting he often used a 12-string acoustic Epiphone Bard model. The guitar, with its lush, natural chorusing quality, was the perfect compliment to the heavy purr of his singing. And its the instrument that helped him create Oh, Pretty Woman with fellow Texas songwriter Bill Dees during a mere 40 minutes in 1963.

The Gibson Company immortalized Orbisons acoustic with the Limited Edition Roy Orbison Bard 12-string. The guitar is a highly accurate reproduction of Orbisons 1962 original. It has a solid spruce top, a solid mahogany back, a rosewood 12-string bridge and vintage tuners. For this limited edition release, the back of the guitars headstock includes a replica of Roys signature and the notation for the first measure of the Oh, Pretty Woman intro riff.

A little known aspect of Orbisons history is that early in his career Sun Records boss Sam Phillips who signed Orbisons group the Teen Kings in 1956 and made the minor hit Ooby Dooby with them valued him more for his picking than his songwriting, and that Orbison could tear out a rockabilly solo with plenty of fire. In fact, he played guitar on Suns singles for Ken Cook and others.

Orbison got his first guitar when he was only six years-old and typically composed the riffs that served as the hooks of his songs himself, including the memorable pattern that opens Oh, Pretty Woman.

His first significant commercial success was as a songwriter for others, penning his first big hit, Claudette, for the Everly Brothers. In fairness, even Orbison contended that his voice wasnt fully developed until 1960, when he recorded Only the Lonely. At first, he tried pitching the tune to his friend Elvis Presley and to the Everly Brothers. Orbison believed so strongly in the song that after they turned it down he cut it himself, and it reached number two on the Billboard charts to make him a star. At that point Orbison had developed a method of singing that came from his chest and abdomen rather than his throat.

Further hits like Crying and Running Scared, the latter based on Maurice Ravels famous composition Bolero, cemented his reputation and forever insured that Orbison would be remembered for his voice rather than his guitar. He also developed a memorable look to compensate for his lack of movement on stage, dressing head to toe in black.

Unlike most early rock heroes, Orbison was never a slave to the backbeat. His tunes were arranged more to fit the seemingly capricious nature of his vocal lines. They are full of daring chromaticism and defy the variations of the I-IV-V structure of most tunes of the era, in soaring contrast to the works of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard, for example. Orbisons darkly beautiful song In Dreams, for example, eschews any verse-chorus-bridge-verse pattern to deliver instead seven distinct verses without a repeated lyric hook or chorus. Running Scared repeats its first verse four times before resolving with a chorus and abruptly finishing.

And his themes were often plucked from the troubled corners of romance, where love is eternally insecure, often fleeting and loaded with consequences. That gave his songs a more adult perspective than typical teenage fare, with the notable exception of the blithe Oh, Pretty Woman. And yet, that song is also partly a wish, with an edge of quiet desperation in the singers hope that the lady in the title will look his way.

Another testament to his vision is that throughout the 1960s Orbison refused to edit takes together or splice performances. He believed in the collective strength of individual performances and that editing diluted that strength. Despite the depth of his musical resolve, Orbison suffered from stage fright regardless of his ability to create silenced awe in his audiences and win such fans and friends as Bob Dylan and George Harrison, with whom he shared the spotlight in the Traveling Wilburys for a short time before his death from a heart attack in 1988.

Orbison left behind an expansive catalog, including 23 authorized solo albums, nearly 100 singles and four live discs. He appears on only the first Traveling Wilburys disc and died shortly after it was recorded. But Orbisons career was once again on an upward arc even before he entered the studio with that supergroup. Director David Lynch used Orbisons staggeringly powerful song In Dreams for a particularly brutal sequence in his surrealist noir revival film Blue Velvet in 1986, which introduced the Other Man in Black to a new generation of hipsters


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   :03.05.11 10:26.:Roy Orbison - Oh, Pr..

Roy Orbison - Oh, Pretty Woman (Official Video 2011)

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   :11.05.11 09:44.: ..


Roy Orbison 'Singles Collection' a must-have set

Roy Orbison scored his first hit in 1956 with the simple splendor of Ooby Dooby and carried on to a career where he virtually defined the sound of loneliness and eventually became one of rocks most revered figures, even playing with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne in the Traveling Wilburys towards the end of his career.

Posthumously commemorating the mans 75th birthday, this most impressive three disc collection includes the mono mixes of all the A and the B sides he made for the small label Monument Records from 1960 to 1964. Rock connoisseurs should have no problem spotting the overflowing hits, including Only the Lonely, Blue Bayou, Its Over, and of course, Oh, Pretty Woman. And there are more than enough gems included on the disc of B-sides as well, such as I Cant Stop Loving You, Love Hurts, Leah, and Candy Man.

As a special bonus, Disc three consists of an ultra-rare, 25-minute concert that was recorded in Holland on March 25, 1965. Filmed in black and white and definitely a product of the times, it includes the singers nine-song set that featured masterworks like Running Scared, Crying, Dream Baby, Oh, Pretty Woman, and others. Its a must-have for Orbison collectors and rock fans in general.


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   :16.05.11 10:31.:Elvis, Roy and Buddy..

Elvis, Roy and Buddy are back in 'Superstars'!

Rock legends Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison return in spirit thanks to three tribute artists who perform the hits at the California Theatre of the Performing Arts on Saturday.

Recreating the three are Darryl Reed and the band Southbound as Buddy Holly and the Crickets, James Kruk as Elvis Presley and Bloomington resident Mark Barnett as Roy Orbison, who was famous for hits such as "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Only the Lonely."

Barnett says he began recreating Orbison's legendary stage presence in 1986. "I never really thought about being a Roy Orbison tribute artist until a friend of mine told me that I sound like him and that if I put on a wig and dark glasses, I'd look like him," he said. "So I got a wig, sat down in a mirror and said, `I'll be darned. I do look like him."'

Barnett ditched the wig, dyed his hair and has been performing as the music icon ever since, playing shows in Las Vegas other venues across the U.S.

Barnett says fans can expect his set to include the artist's biggest hits and a few discoveries, too.

"Roy did not interact with the crowd, he was very shy," Barnett said. "He was known for standing still while performing and using his four-octave range.

"I'm blessed to have this voice and that I'm able to deliver (his sound) to people who remember Roy," he continued. "To be able to do so is very rewarding."

Orbison arrived on the scene in the early 1960s as a solo act. In 1988, he joined
the super group The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne.

In 1987, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. He was also named one of Rolling Stone magazine's "Greatest Artists of All-Time."

In addition to venues across the country, Barnett has performed for several years at the Candlelight Pavilion in Claremont.


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   :30.05.11 09:33.:The Monument Concert..

The Monument Concert 1965

The Monument Concert 1965 is Roy Orbison's greatest filmed concert. Here's the first song of the set, 1960's "Only the Lonely". Roy at that time was the scariest man in Rock and Roll. Dark as Darth Vader or Dracula, and so sexual that radio initially banned Pretty Woman. We love Roy!



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   :02.06.11 09:45.:"MEAN WOMAN BLUE..


You will find no rougher, more aggressive rock and roll song before 1965 than Roy Orbison's "Mean Woman Blues." Not until Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" and AC/DC's "I'm a Rocker, I'm a Roller" (both of which it influenced) would the boogie woogie get tougher. The guitar solo is very fast - Jimmy Page used this soloing style for "Communication Breakdown" and "You Really Got Me."

Here's the song from the recently released "Monument Concert 1965," available in the Monument Singles Collection (1960-1964)!


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   :07.06.11 09:00.:Roy Orbison & Jo..

Roy Orbison & Johnny Cash: "Oh, Pretty Woman" Live on The Johnny Cash Show 1969

Johnny Cash joins Roy Orbison on the song "Oh, Pretty Woman" for Johnny's TV show! The two met in 1955 on Roy's radio show. Both were on Sun Records in Memphis and in the band the "Class of '55" with Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.


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   :14.06.11 10:03.:Roy Orbison not jeal..

Roy Orbison not jealous of Beatles

INSIDE THREE YEARS OF BEATLES TOURS: A book concentrating on the six UK tours of The Beatles, released last month in Britain, is now available in the U.S. and Canada. "Beatlemania! The Real Story Of The Beatles UK Tours 1963-1965,", also available from Amazon.co.uk, and published by Omnibus Press, examines the early tours through eyewitness accounts. Author Martin Creasy tracked down detailed recollections from musicians and the lone surviving emcee from the tours for their recollections, plus fans, the police, music writers, regional reporters and photographers, cinema staff, technicians and even a hoteliers daughter who gave up her bed for a Beatle. The book includes Roy Orbison's feelings about them (the Beatles took over the top spot on their tour together). Max, described as "an EMI press guy," talked with the singer and says in the book, "He was a lovely man, Roy Orbison. He was a quiet man and he wasn't the least bit jealous about the reaction the Beatles received. I think he enjoyed it, but he was quite bemused by it all, and he certainly didn't seem bothered about it."


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   :17.06.11 10:14.:Roy Orbison and Jerr..

Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis

We Love Jerry Lee Lewis! Jerry Lee first walked through Sun Records front door during an Orbison session for the song "Rockhouse". Roy and Jerry Lee performed many songs & shows together from the 1950's to the 1980's. The Rock and Roll Giant recorded "Go!Go!Go! (Down the Line)" in 1958. Jerry Lee also did Roy's Ooby Dooby and other songs associated with Roy.


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   :28.06.11 11:43.:Tour Sun Studio! h..

Tour Sun Studio!

If you've never been to 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, TN to visit the Sun Studio Museum, this summer is a great time to go. Rock and Roll was born here and you can feel history in the walls. Here's a cool picture taken of Alex "Orbi" (Roy's son), Barbara (Roy's widow), and Roy Jr (Roy's son) standing in front of a picture of Roy behind Sun Studio.


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   :06.07.11 09:57.:Tennessee temptation..

Tennessee temptation: Guitars, stars, bars - and why Nashville is no one-note town

I'll admit that I travelled to Nashville with one, maybe two, pre-conceptions.

To my mind, this famous city of the American South had always conjured up a specific set of images. You know the type - cowboy hats and tassels, line-dancing and so lonesome I could die warbling.

And with good reason for country music has long been the citys most famous export.

But far from being a haven strictly for the dyed-in-the-wool country fan, there is - I soon discover - a wider musical and cultural identity to the city, which attracts more than 11million visitors every year.

With a booming pop and rock scene the Kings Of Leon hail from these parts, and Jimi Hendrix is known to have spent some of his formative years here - the varied sights and sounds of Nashville cannot be pigeon-holed.

Gospel also thrives in a city that, as home to more than 800 churches, is a buckle to Americas Bible Belt.

But to truly experience Nashville, it is best to start - as I do - at the beginning, making the County Music Hall of Fame and Museum an excellent first port of call.

It isn't difficult, as I approach this grand statement of a structure, to notice the effort that went into its construction. It adds up to $37million-worth of building, cut to an outlandish design - aptly shaped like a keyboard morphing into a Cadillac tail fin. What waits within is not bad either. The museum boasts a vast collection of artefacts and recordings that illustrate the story of country music in full colour.

A frequently updated menu of live performances and rotating exhibits also means youre likely to see something new each time you visit.

Among the gallerys more quirky current exhibits are a quartet of stuffed squirrels playing various instruments - all shot and mounted by the fabled country musician (and apparently keen taxidermist) Hank Williams.

I'm also struck by Tammy Wynettes collection of wigs - as well as her team of porcelain poodles, which sit on show alongside a Cadillac once owned by Elvis. The car - as any good vehicle once driven by The King should - comes with the ritzy additions of both a telephone and a TV. Of course.

A Pontiac Bonneville sits opposite, emblazoned with pistols, steer horns and, curiously a saddle. This was designed by Nudie Cohn, a visionary in the field of country tailoring (he was the head of the iconic Rodeo Tailors) who produced costumes for everyone from Williams to John Lennon.

Among the many costumes on display, a number of outfits featuring distinctive spangled lapels catch my eye.

A closer look reveals these to be the work of another of Nashville's most celebrated designing sons, a man who goes simply by the name Manuel (although if you want to be formal, you might know him as Manuel Arturo José Cuevas Martinez).

Manuel made his (singular) name dressing the likes of Elvis, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan - and in a happy turn of events, I get to meet him.

It is purely by chance that later that evening I strike up a conversation with a personal friend of Manuels. A few minutes of chatter later, I find myself invited me to the great man's 73rd birthday celebrations.

Here is an event like few I have experienced before. The house is festooned with his creations, and pictures of Manuel with his various celebrity clients and friends.

The birthday boy himself is sprightly and bequiffed, dressed in one of his own flamboyant outfits (of course) and swigging cheerfully from a tequila bottle which he repeatedly offers to me.

With his impressive list of clients it is not hard to see that, in dressing the biggest and the best in the music business, he has become part of history himself.

With Manuels illustrious past still in mind, I pay a visit to the place known as 'The Home Of A 1,000 Hits' - Historic RCA Studio B.

From the outside, it does not look like much. In fact, at first, I'm not even sure that I have the right address. But appearances can be deceiving. For this small, unassuming building is where Elvis recorded more than 250 hits.

Since it opened in 1957, just about every great American artist has recorded in Studio B - including the likes of Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson and the Everly Brothers.

The studios have barely changed since their heyday and the Steinway grand piano where Elvis recorded Are You Lonesome Tonight? still stands in its original spot. Over the decades, the hands of a million tourists have given the piano a slightly worn appearance - but I can't resist the temptation, and pull up a chair at the keyboard where the King's hands once moved. It is humbling to be in the room where he produced some of his best-known tunes, and sitting at the piano, I can almost imagine him at work, lip slightly curled, the crackle of genius on the air.

Dolly Parton has also been here. She - quite literally - left her indelible mark on the studio. As well as recording Jolene here in 1973, country music's most ageless blonde accidentally ploughed her car into the side of the building whilst rushing to her first recording session. Signs of the crash, which occurred in 1967, are still visible today.

Caught up in such a potent musical environment, it seems an opportune moment for me to try my hand at songwriting. However, I'm tone deaf and dogs cry when I sing - so it is to the relief of my fellow visitors to Nashville that I am taken under the wing of Regie Hamm at the Bluebird Cafe.

Known as a haven for everyone from fledgling songsmiths to chart-topping artists, the Bluebird Cafe has long been the place to be for anyone who wants to make it in Nashville.

It is not unusual to see established names like Leann Rimes mingling with writers and performers who are just starting out. And it has been the springboard for many a household name. Indeed, Garth Brooks performed at open-mic nights here before he was discovered and signed by Capitol Records.

Hamm, who has written over 20 number-one songs himself (including the closing tune for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as various Christian ballads) encourages me to think up a few lyrics - before, somehow, magically, harmonising and crafting them into song.

The results probably won't top the charts any time soon - but the process is relaxed and genuinely entertaining. And its clear that this is a man who loves what he does.

The walls of the venue, which opened in 1982, are plastered with signed photos of the artists who have also taken part in these free-styling sessions. And while Im under no illusions that my picture will be joining them, Im definitely comfortable with the process while Im in Regies capable hands.

Having mastered the art of lyric-writing, its now time for me to get a guitar. Sadly, I cant play a note - but that doesnt stop me almost collapsing with excitement at the prospect of visiting the Gibson guitar factory.

Gibson is the guitar wielded by every rock hero Ive ever held dear. To this day, it remains the preferred axe of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Keith Richards and Slash.

A sprawling building, the site produces an astonishing 600 guitars a day in every shape and colour, and is also home to the prestigious line of Baldwin pianos.

The scale of the production is immense particularly when you consider that the factory was virtually ruined by floods last year. But a multi-billion dollar refurbishment has set things back on track, with business booming and the brand preparing to release the $5,500 limited-edition Firebird X and a Firebird 10.

Far from being stuck in a time warp or a style rut, Nashville has become a melting pot of musical styles. While its foundations of country music will always be significant, it is no longer defined by the low-strung twang and the lonesome yelp.

Self-proclaimed architect of rock n roll Little Richard continues to record and live in Nashville, as does disco queen Donna Summer.

The city is the throne of all that is country - but it is more than that in so many ways. And better still, in five days, I dont see a single cowboy hat.


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   :12.07.11 10:09.:Roy Orbison and Frie..

Roy Orbison and Friends 75th anniversary special gets standing ovation

THE Roy Orbison and Friends 75th anniversary special had The Brewhouse audience on their feet, calling for more.

Barry Steele performed to a full-house as the infamous singer, playing hits spanning over his career up until the 1980s from the moving Crying and It's Over, to the upbeat and ever popular Pretty Woman.

Steele and the talented five-piece band also performed hits from The Shadows, Ray Charles and Jerry Lew Lewis.

Orbison aficionados have credited Steele as one of the most convincing tribute acts. Steele's voice and appearance were remarkably like Big O, which proved a sell-out success in Taunton. The crowd clapped, cheered and finally gave a standing ovation to show their appreciation.

He not only entertained with hit after hit, but with humour, wit and a touch of audience banter.

Steele, who started his career in the RAF, has toured the UK, New Zealand and Denmark in his own shows to rave reviews. He is currently touring with The Black and White Knights and the band entertained in their own right with solo performances.


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