Roy Orbison

Oh, Pretty Woman

Song Review by

A strong, sinuous bass line intro was a primary consideration to win concentrated rock airplay as the British Invasion raged during the mid-'60s. Seldom was a stronger or catchier one devised than the pulsating kickoff to Roy Orbison's immortal "Oh, Pretty Woman." Pounding drums and what sounds like a 12-string acoustic guitar immediately set the tone for the Big O's biggest hit of all, Orbison navigating a chord progression unlike any the Texas native had ever introduced before. Orbison and songwriting partner Bill Dees had been inspired by the pretty sight of Orbison's wife Claudette (the namesake of the Everly Brothers' Orbison-penned 1958 hit, "Claudette"), somehow emerging with an upbeat masterpiece shot through with intense longing and more than a little frustration as Orbison virtually begs a lady passerby to be his for the night (the bold gambit succeeds in the end, but he stretches the conclusion out for maximum dramatic tension). The leering little growl that Orbison unfurled on his previous hit "Mean Woman Blues" -- rather out of character for the shy singer -- resurfaces, along with an appreciatively drawled "Mercy!" exclamation; both subsequently served as trademarks for the gifted singer. "Oh, Pretty Woman" soared to the peak of the pop charts during the late summer of 1964 for Fred Foster's Monument Records, at least temporarily wresting the top slot from the Beatles and the Animals (Manfred Mann would grab it back a few weeks later with a cover of the Exciters' "Do Wah Diddy Diddy"). The gold record was one of two chart-toppers for Orbison, 1961's "Running Scared" preceding it into the winner's circle.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, Vol. 2 1972 Columbia 2:57
No Image 1975 Monument Records 2:25
The All-Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison, Vols. 1-2 1976 Monument Records 2:58
Golden Days 1981 Sony BMG
The Legendary Roy Orbison [Long Box] 1988 Monument Records 2:56
Pretty Woman: The Best of Roy Orbison [Columbia] 1989 Columbia
Rockin' 60's [Sony Special Products] 1989
Various Artists
Columbia 2:53
Pretty Woman [Original Soundtrack] 1990
Original Soundtrack
EMI Music Distribution 2:55
The Rock 'N' Roll Era: Roy Orbison 1960-1965 1991 2:57
Love Songs [Sound Solutions] 1992 Virgin / EMI Music Distribution 3:02
In Dreams/Orbisongs 1993 Monument Records 2:59
Monument Story 1994
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:58
Shades of Roy Orbison 1995 Sony Music Distribution 2:56
Hits You Remember [1989] 1995 BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 2:55
Super Hits 1995 Columbia / Epic 2:59
Greatest Hits of the Sixties, Vol. 1-2 1995
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:54
Gold Collection 1996 TriStar Music 2:58
Pop 60's 1997
Various Artists
Coyote Records 2:59
The All Time Greatest Hits of Roy Orbison [DCC] 1997 Monument Records 2:58
WCBS FM 101.1 25th Anniversary, Vol. 2: The 60's - Silver Anniversary Edition 1997
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Whole Lotta Rock: 1964-1965 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 2:51
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1960-1969 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 2:59
Highway Rock: Southern Nights 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:00
60's Mix [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:03
Limited Edition Box Set 1998 Orbison Records 2:58
All Time Greatest Movie Songs [UK] 1998
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:58
Classic 60's: Shakin' All Over 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Time / Life Music 2:58
Party of the Millennium 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:56
16 Biggest Hits 1999 Monument / Legacy 2:57
Hear It Now! The Sound of the '60s 1999
Various Artists
Legacy / Columbia 2:57
Anthology 1999 Orbison Records 6:18
Millennium Party [Rhino Box] 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 2:59
Party Time, Vol. 4 1999
Various Artists
SPG 2:59
The Ultimate Grammy Box: From the Recording Academy's Collection 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:57
Classic '60s [Time Life] 1999
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 2:58
Movie Hits [Metacom] 1999
Various Artists
Metacom 2:58
The Great Roy Orbison, Vol. 1: Original Hits 2000 Platinum Disc 2:57
The Millennium's Greatest Hits, Vols. 1-2 2000
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Roy, Gene & Dion 2000 WEA International 2:59
20 Golden Hits 2000 Teevee Records 3:00
Best of the Best 2000 Federal Records 3:00
The Great Roy Orbison: Original Hits 2000 Platinum Disc 2:57
Love Songs of the 60's [Sony] 2001
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:58
Greatest Number 1's Ever 2001 EMI Music Distribution 2:58
This Is 2001 Back Biter 2:59
Gold 2001 Disky 3:03
Orbison 2001 Bear Family Records 3:33
Dick Clark's #1's: 50's to 70's "When AM Radio Was King" 2001
Various Artists
Rhino 2:58
The Legends Collection: The Roy Orbison Collection 2001 Legends Collection 2:51
The Ultimate Rock & Roll Collection: The 60's 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Roy Orbison Collection, Vol. 1 2001 Dressed To Kill 2:51
Oh Pretty Woman [Collectables] 2002 Collectables 2:55
Monumental Hits [Collectables] 2002 Collectables 2:57
Ultimate Country Super Hits [Sony Box Set] 2002
Various Artists
Immediate / Sony Music Distribution 2:58
50 All Time Greatest Hits 2002 Collectables 2:57
Big Hits from the Big "O" 2002 Balboa Recording Corporation 3:04
The Rockin' 60's [Platinum Disc] 2002
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:58
Sixties Jukebox Classics 2002
Various Artists
Universal International 2:58
60's: The Decade of Love & Music 2003
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:57
The Very Best of Love 2003 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:57
The Best of Roy Orbison [EMI] 2003 CEMA Special Markets / EMI-Capitol Special Markets 3:03
Top Hits of the Sixties: Chart Toppers 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Chick Flix 2003
Various Artists
UTV 2:55
Rock and Roll at Fifty: A Galaxy of Hits from Rock's First Decade 2003
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 2:56
Oh Pretty Woman/I Like Love 2003 Dynamic 3:00
On Your Radio [Box] 2003
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:59
The Ultimate Chick Flick Love Songs 2003
Various Artists
Warner Music 2:56
Time 100: Music of Our Lives 1960-1980 2004
Various Artists
WEA International 2:58
Most Famous Hits: The Album 2004 Surpr!se 2:51
Sweets for Sweden: The Very Best of Roy Orbison 2004 Virgin
Casey Kasem: The 60's #1 Pop Hits 2004
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 2:57
60's the Decade of Love and Music 2004
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 2:57
Platinum Collection 2004 Virgin 3:03
No Image 2004 Sony Music Entertainment 3:03
Hits! Hits! Hits! 2004 Orbison Records 3:02
The Millennium's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 2004
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Rock & Roll's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 2004
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Lifetime of Romance [Time Life] 2005
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 0:00
Solo lo Mejor de Roy Orbison 2005 Music Brokers 2:56
I Can't Stop Loving You 2005 Rex Recording 2:57
80's Fever: The Best 80's Album...Ever 2005
Various Artists
Music Brokers 2:56
Rock Breakout Years: 1961 2005 Collectables / Madacy 2:55
Housework Songs 2005
Various Artists
Virgin / EMI 2:58
The Very Best of Roy Orbison [Sony/BMG Australia] 2006 Virgin 3:02
I Luv Mum: For the Best Mum in the World Ever [2007] 2007
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:58
Havin' a 60's Party 2007
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution / Custom Marketing Group 3:00
Top Hits of the 60s: Chart Toppers 2007
Various Artists
Collectables 2:57
Top of the Pops 1964 2007
Various Artists
EMI 2:57
Peace And Love [Madacy] 2008
Various Artists
Madacy 2:58
Lo Esencial de Las Clásicas de... Universal 92.1 FM 2008
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:59
Forever Friends: Thank You Mum 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 2:57
Original Hits: Love 2009
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:58
101 Barbecue Songs 2010
Various Artists
EMI 2:58
The Monument Singles: A-Sides (1960-1964) 2011 Legacy / Monument Records / Orbison Records / Sony Music / Sony Music Distribution 2:58
Pure... 60s 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:58
The Ultimate Collection [Legacy] 2016 Legacy / Sony Music 2:58
Definitive Collection [2 Disc] Phantom
Lost and Found: 1962-1969
Various Artists
EMI
On Your 60's Radio
Various Artists
Columbia 2:59
Summer Holiday
Various Artists
Sony Music 2:58
Super Oldie Hits, Vol. 2: Die Grössten Hits der 50er, 60er und 70er
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 2:56
The Rebirth of the Sixties
Various Artists
Music Brokers 2:57