Rock and roll legend Roy Orbison – who once rubbed shoulders with Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Johnny Cash but was a musical marvel in his own right – had a connection to Karnes County.
The bespectacled crooner of hits such as “Pretty Woman,” “You Got It,” “Only the Lonely” and “Crying” and “Blue Bayou,” among other hits, might have never lived in Kenedy, but apparently his parents once did, and his younger brother is said to have attended junior high here. A website, sanantonioradiomemories.com, mentions the Orbison and Kenedy connection.
By the time Orbison’s mom, dad and brother Sam moved to Karnes County, Roy was already a musical sensation with his songs playing on the radio and concert tours becoming a way of life.
Orbison himself grew up in the West Texas town of Wink, but no doubt visited Kenedy to spend time with family. In fact, I was trying to locate a copy of a photo of him and his younger brother that was taken in Kenedy, but it has remained elusive so far.
Although many of those who might have befriended Orbison’s parents are likely no longer around to share their stories, it’s possible there are still local residents who knew Sam Orbison as a Kenedy Junior High student. That would have been about 60 years ago.
Interestingly, Orbison and fellow early rock and roll icon Buddy Holly have been among the first musical legends to perform as holograms with a live band and backup singers on stage. It’s amazing what technology can do these days.
More information on those concerts – which offer a touch of nostalgia for older fans while also introducing a younger audience to some great music – can be found at https://basehologram.com/productions/in-dreams-roy-orbison-in-concert.
Hats off to Roy and his family, and to their Karnes County connection. His music was a gift to the world, and no doubt his family played an important role in him becoming who he was.