Tag: Pretty woman

The tragic life and death of the ‘Caruso of Rock’


Died on December 6, 1988, at the age of 52.

His music was called operatic. Critics hailed him as the “Casuso of Rock” after famed opera singer Enrico Caruso.

“While most male rock-and-roll singers in the 1950s and 1960s projected gyrating masculinity, many of Orbison’s songs conveyed vulnerability, which he performed standing still, wearing black clothes to match his black hair and dark sunglasses.”


Orbison was very shy and suffered from severe stage fright. He wore his trademark sunglasses — which led some people to assume he was blind — as a way to hide himself.

His black clothes and song lyrics “emphasised the image of mystery and introversion. His dark and brooding persona, combined with his tremulous voice in lovelorn ballads marketed to teenagers made Orbison a star in the early 1960s.”

Perhaps he’s best known for the song ‘Pretty Woman,’ the theme song of the hit movie by the same name starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.


Orbison was a founding member of the American-British “supergroup” known as  the Traveling Wilburys, with Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne.


Orbison’s life was filled with tragedy, including the sudden accidental death of his wife Claudette. During a series of concerts in Britain, his home in Hendersonville, Tennessee, burned down, killing his two sons, 11-year old Roy and Tony, 6.

In what would turn out to be the last three months of his life, he gave Rolling Stone magazine extensive access to his daily activities. He had plans to write an autobiography and wanted Martin Sheen to play him in a biopic.


Orbison confided in Johnny Cash that he was having chest pains. He went to Europe and performed to standing ovations. He gave several interviews a day in a hectic schedule.

Back in America, he performed at the Front Row Theater in Highland Heights, Ohio. Exhausted, he returned to his home in Hendersonville to rest for several days before flying again to London to film two more videos for the Traveling Wilburys.

On December 6, 1988, he ate dinner at his mother’s home in Hendersonville. Later that day he died of a heart attack at the age of 52.




To live to see the great day that dawns / And the light that fills the world. — From an old Inuit song.

A man sits in a bar in Yellowknife. It has been six months to the day since the death of his wife. He isolated himself in their house outside of town, and worked on his novel. This night he decided to seek the camaraderie of the public house.

His wife, a freelance National Geographic photographer, was killed in a plane crash near Arctic Red River, just above the Arctic Circle. Her body was never found. It was a front page story in the Anchorage Daily News: Search called off for missing photographer.

She was eternally preserved in the ice. Beautifully dead.

In the bar, the more he gets into the Canadian Club whiskey, the more morbid he becomes. He decides it was a bad idea and looks around for the waitress to get his check.

His glance rests on a young woman sitting at another table with two friends. She immediately looks up and their eyes lock. She has those characteristic almond-shaped eyes of this land.

He raises his whiskey glass to her and she quickly looks back down.

The waitress comes to his table, he pays her and heads for the door. He sees almond eyes looking at him. He goes over to her table. 

He says: “Did you know Toyatuk?”

“Toyatuk Paquette?” she asks, surprised by his abruptness.

“Yes, yes,” he says excitedly.

“Were you her husband?”

“I was.”

‘I’m sorry,” she says. “I knew her a little.”

“She’s locked in the ice,” he tells her.

“I really don’t know,” she says.

No one knows what to say next. Then the woman says to her friends, “I have to go home.” She pushes her chair back and stands up.

“Where do you live?” he asks her.

“Past Franklin Street.”

“May I walk you?”

The woman looks down and her two friends exchange glances with raised eyebrows.

Then the young woman says, “That’d be all right.”

They walk out onto Franklin Street. It is the beginning of July but still cold. The night is as bright as day. Eighteen hours of sunlight. Soon, at the summer solstice, there will be twenty-four hours of sun. Sunshine at midnight. Winter is a different story. It was winter when Toyatuk disappeared into the ice.

“I didn’t know her very well,” the beautiful Inuit woman says.


She looks at him. “Toyatuk.”

They walk on in silence. Then the man says, “What’s your name?”

“Saluit. Saluit Smoothstone.”

“That’s incredibly beautiful.”

And indeed it was.