Oh, Pretty Woman

Oh, Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison is the title of the world's most successful hits of the year 1964, which occupied the first rank of the charts in major countries.


Orbison since March already took on 1956 plates. Sun Records, he left due to lack of prospects in September 1958 in the direction of RCA Records, in September 1959, he was with Monument Records. Orbison met with his new writing partner, William " Bill" Dees on Friday, July 25, 1964 in his home, to work out new songs. As Orbison's wife Claudette goodbye to shopping in the city, Roy asked them if they still need money for this. Dees responded charming: " Pretty woman never needs any money" ( a pretty woman never needs money ); the idea for the title was born. As Claudette came back from shopping after about 40 minutes, the song was finished. "We wrote the song on a Friday, next Friday we took him in, on the following Friday he was released ."

Studio Shot

On 1 August 1964, the song and the B-side Yo Te Amo Maria Fred Foster Sound Studio in Nashville, was admitted under production directed by the studio owner and co-partner of Monument Records, Fred Luther Foster. The studios were located in Hendersonville, not far from the city Orbison. Although only two takes were required for inclusion, but went ahead of them a preparation time of 3 hours. In this time before the first take was experimenting with different arrangements. Orbison had his touring drummer Paul Garrison brought, who played in tandem with Buddy Harman. The instrumental forces consisted of session musicians of the so-called Nashville A- Team, namely Jerry Kennedy ( lead guitar Gibson ES -335 ), from which the characteristic repetitive eighth-note riff comes, Ray Edenton (rhythm guitar), Billy Sanford and Wayne Moss ( electric guitars ), Floyd Cramer ( piano) and Boots Randolph (tenor saxophone). The guitarist Jerry Kennedy, Wayne Moss and Billy Sanford have created one of the most famous guitar intros of popular music. Alone this memorable intro deserves a description. The bass drum is hit on every beat while the snare drum doubled this beat, and the closed hi-hat is struck at every start. After a stroke Grady Martin begins on his acoustic 12-string guitar with a broken chord riff. After a repeat start the electric bass and the electric lead guitar, after two more repetitions starts the second electric guitar and is punctuated by the saxophone.

Pretty woman presented a completely different style of music than the previous ones, presented with brooding intensity singles. It was a riff - stressed rock ballad. In simple lyrics some unusual passages are included. While the " yeah, yeah" was adapted from the Beatles, there was an unusual for music recording hiss that Orbison had taken from a Bob Hope movie. Large parts of the story to play content from the thoughts of the singer, who observed a passing by attractive woman. He wonders whether the woman feels pretty lonely. He wishes that she talks to him, laughing with him and stay with him but she walks past him. Only at the last moment she turns around and comes towards him.


The single was released on August 8, 1964 Oh, Pretty Woman / Yo Te Amo Maria ( Monument # 851 ) and arrived on August 29, 1964 in the U.S. singles chart for three weeks where they occupied the first rank from September 26, 1964. In Britain, the plate came in September 1964 on the market and held here from October 8, 1964 for two weeks on the first rank. From 19 December 1964, she finished second in the German charts for three weeks the top rank. This was also the case in all other major music markets in the world. The title should be the only number -one hit of the singer. By October 1964, the single in the U.S. was already million-seller, more 680,000 copies were sold in the UK, 350,000 in Germany and 180,000 in Canada. A total of over 7 million units sold worldwide. Thus, the plate became Orbison's most successful hit.

For the LP version by the way a new studio recording was recorded (audible in the song bridge). While he sings in the single version. " Come to me, baby, I'll treat you right ... " it says in the LP version, however, " Come with me, baby ... " The original version was for their time sensual.

Cover versions, awards and plagiarism process

Overall, BMI 14 cover versions are registered. The song was awarded a BMI Award. In 1991, Orbison for Oh, Pretty Woman posthumously received a Grammy. In the list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time magazine Rolling Stone, the piece is ranked 222

The most successful cover version was by Van Halen ( February 1982), which ranks 12th among U.S. Charts. The German version was published under the title Pretty Woman by Gerd Böttcher in 1964 without being listed in the German charts. The song was also the theme music for the movie Pretty Woman, who came to the United States on 23 March 1990 in the cinemas.

In 1989 there was a plagiarism process with 2 Live Crew. This rap quartet had released the LP As Clean As They Wanna Be on July 15, 1989, the also called " Pretty Woman" was included ( with mention of the authors Orbison / Dees ). On 5 July 1989, informed Orbison's music publisher Acuff - Rose Publishing on the intended parody of 2 Live Crew, but refused a permit. Nevertheless, the parody was published. After nearly 250,000 LPs sold it came to complain. 2 Live Crew took over the typical guitar / bass / drums riff from the original as a sample and changed the text slightly and also the rhythm from their version. The changes were not substantial, so that the original remains recognizable even for the layman. It came to the lawsuit that ultimately the U.S. Supreme Civil Court ( Supreme Court ) ended on 7 March 1994. The court saw no copyright infringement, but an allowable case the fair use doctrine in the context of a - not explicitly valued by the court - parody. 2 live crew version was up to a certain degree a critical commentary on the original.

Selection of artists, recordings cover versions:


The blues and rock musician Gary Moore published on its LP Still Got the Blues in March 1990, a song titled Oh Pretty Woman. There is no relationship between this and Orbison's song; Lyrics and melody come from A. C. Williams. The inclusion of Gary Moore is a cover version of the image recorded by Albert King on August 3, 1966 blues songs. John Mayall with his Bluesbreakers already adopted on July 12, 1967 this song for his LP Crusade.

Literature and sources

  • Colin Escott: Orbison. Bear Family, Hambergen 2001, ISBN 3-89795-767-1.
  • Frank Laufenberg: Hit encyclopedia of rock and pop, Ullsteinhaus, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-548-36372-5.