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Encyclopedia > Joe Melson

Joe Melson (born May, 1935), is an American singer and a BMI award winning songwriter.

Roy Orbison & Joe Melson

Born in Bonham, Texas, United States, he was raised on a farm until he was sixteen. He attended high school in Gore, Oklahoma and Chicago, Illinois before returning to Texas to study at Odessa College. He studied and played music as a teenager and fronted a rockabilly band called "The Cavaliers."

Beginning in 1959, first at his home in Midland, Texas and then in Nashville, Tennessee, Joe Melson teamed up with a virtual unknown by the name of Roy Orbison where for Monument Records they would write a string of hits. Prior to their collaboration, Orbison had been mired in rockabilly songs and although Melson himself was rooted in that music genre, he had begun writing rhythm and blues sounds. Melson recognized the potential in Orbison's voice, encouraging the singer to explore its power through their first collaboration, "Only The Lonely." What resulted on March 25, 1960 was the first Operatic rock ballad in the history of popular music. The song went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the United States and to #1 in Britain, launching Orbison to international musical stardom. Not only did that song influence Orbison to write such operatic ballads as "In Dreams," but a few months later it also induced Orbison's friend Elvis Presley to record "It's Now Or Never" based on the Italian opera-influenced ballad, "O Sole Mio."

Melson and Orbison followed up with similar sounds such as the dramatic Running Scared that went to #1 in the USA. The result of their collaborative efforts produced such songs as:

  • Uptown (1960)
  • Only The Lonely (1960)
  • Blue Angel (1960)
  • I'm Hurtin' (1961)
  • Running Scared (1961)
  • Crying (1961)
  • The Crowd (1962)
  • The Actress (1962)
  • Gigolette (1962)
  • Blue Bayou (1963)
  • Blue Avenue (1964)
  • Raindrops (1964)
  • Lana (1964)
  • Cry Softly Lonely One (1967)
  • Harlem Woman (1972)

Between 1960 and 1963, Joe Melson recorded several singles of his own for Hickory Records and also wrote songs for some of that label's other artists. He then recorded a few songs for the EMP Records label in 1964 and 1965 that achieved limited success. His last hit collaboration with Orbison came in 1963 with the writing of "Blue Bayou" although some of their cooperative efforts would be recorded in later years. The two got together again between 1971 and 1975, but while the venture did not yield the commercial success their collaboration once had, it brought such memorable songs as Harlem Woman

Over the years, Joe Melson continued to perform at rockabilly and nostalgia festivals and in 2002 he was inducted into the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee, the home and final resting place of a "father" of rockabilly, Carl Perkins.

  Results from FactBites:
Joe Melson :: Legendary Songwriter :: Songs (0 words)
Joe Melson, creator of the dramatic rock ballad, may be the most unsung hero of song writing.
Joe Melson was inducted into the International Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee on August 8, 2002.
Melson's songs had over 15 million confirmed airplays in the United States alone, not including airplay overseas where his songs were bigger than Elvis.
  More results at FactBites »



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