Co-writer of Orbison's classic 'Oh, Pretty Woman' toured with him
By The Associated Press
Published: Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, 6:08 p.m.
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — Bill Dees emerged from his days as an out-of-cash young songwriter to pen tunes recorded by Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and other country music greats, but the centerpiece of his career was his work with Roy Orbison, including co-writing the classic rock hit, “Oh, Pretty Woman.” Dees, who died in Arkansas last week at age 73, had said writing that song with Orbison in 1964 changed his life.
In a 2008 interview with National Public Radio, Dees recalled that the night they penned the hit song, Orbison told him he wouldn't need to go to work that Monday if he didn't want to.
“He said, ‘Buy yourself an electric piano, and I'll take you on the road with me.' And he said, ‘I'll pay you what the band's getting,'” Dees said during the NPR interview, which is posted on his Dees' website.
He went on to tour Europe and perform on the Ed Sullivan Show with Orbison, with whom he also co-wrote numerous other songs, including “It's Over,” which also was a No. 1 hit.
The Texas native left home to seek work in Nashville, where he went on to write songs recorded by performers who also included Glen Campbell. But working with Orbison defined his career.
Dees didn't initially seek out Orbison after moving to Nashville because he wanted to establish himself without help, according to a biography on Dees' website. But the pair reconnected, and with Orbison, Dees crossed Europe and twice went to England.
“I was shocked when we got off the plane in London, and there was like 10,000 people there at the airport meeting the plane,” Dees told NPR. “It was like The Beatles when they came over here.”
They appeared with The Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and played on the Ed Sullivan Show.
Dees continued to write songs and perform, and released his first solo album in 2002, “Saturday Night at the Movies,” which includes songs he wrote with Orbison.
Dees said many times that he and Orbison were life-long friends. Orbison died in 1988.
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