Obit of the Day: Co-Writer of “Oh, Pretty Woman”
On a Friday in August 1964, singer Roy Orbison and his friend, songwriter Bill Dees, were sitting at Orbison’s house as Roy’s wife, Claudette, was getting ready to go shopping. Orbison asked his wife if she needed any money. Dees quipped, “Pretty woman never needs any money.”
From that one line Orbison and Dees began writing what would become Orbison’s best-known hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman.” They finished it before Mrs. Orbison returned from the store. As Dees’ has said, they wrote it on a Friday, recorded the next Friday, and released it the next Friday.
"Oh, Pretty Woman" reached number one on the Billboard at the end of August and stayed there for three weeks. By October, it would hit number one in the United Kingdom; and return to the top of the charts in November. The song would later be ranked as #222 of the 500 greatest rock songs of all time by Rolling Stone.
Dees would collaborate with Orbison for years afterward including his top ten hit, “It’s Over.” He also wrote all the songs for the critically panned film The Fastest Guitar Alive (1967) which starred Orbison as as “Confederate super spy.” (On Dees’ website the film is now called a “camp classic.”)
Bill Dees, who released his first and only solo album in 2002, passed away at the age of 73.
(The Very Best of Roy Orbison and “Oh, Pretty Woman” are copyright of Sony Music Entertainment, 2006)