Our record company, Liberty Records, sent us out to perform on stage for a radio station promotion. We arrived in the Montgomery, Alabama airport on a sunny November morning in 1962. The general manager of the radio station met our plane. No matter how many times I told him my name was Dee Dee, he kept referring to us as Dick and Dee Bee.
“Yep, Dee Bee, it shore is nice you folks could drop in on us. Ya’ll must be find, wonderful folks.”
I assured him that we tried to be.
We arrived at the large arena in time to catch Roy Orbison’s rehearsal with the band. He was leading them through the charts to his hit record, “Crying.” Roy stood poised on stage, his body still, eyes closed. A blue filter colored his hair, like a black river reflecting the dark blue sky at midnight.
“I was alright for awhile, I could smile for awhile.”
Suddenly the band hit a wrong chord and Roy’s eyes opened. Blinking at the musicians through thick glasses, his quiet voice drawled, “Let’s take it again.” As the song started, his high tenor voice cut through the atmosphere like a warm knife through butter. His high notes were pure magic.
As Roy hit the last note of the song and held it, the entire auditorium (crew, promoters, disc jockeys, and other singers) broke into applause. Roy nodded, embarrassed, said a few final works to the band and left the stage.
Later, Dick and I were waiting in the dressing room for our rehearsal when Roy entered.
“Roy, this is Dick and Dee Bee,” the general manger shouted.
I said, “It’s Dee Dee. D…E…E…D…E…E…”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Roy replied.
Dick wasn’t paying attention. Something triggered a strong desire in Dick. I recognized the signs. He was almost salivating. What was he after? I followed the direction of Dick’s eyes as they swept the dirty dressing room floor, finally resting on Roy’s shoes.
I’d never seen anything like them. Made out of the softest black leather, the shoes had no laces. Instead, the ankle boots sported strips of elastic on either side to facilitate pulling them on and off.
Two years later the Beatles would wear similar shoes on their first American tour, forever redefining footwear for thousands of American men. But in 1962, only Roy Orbison owned a pair of what would be known as Beatle boots.
Dick could contain himself no longer. He moaned, “Oh, man, I really dig those shoes!”
Roy smiled and looked down, as if noticing the shoes for the first time. “Yeah. I just got them.”
“Where did you buy them?” Dick asked. “I’d give anything for a pair of shoes like that.”
Roy smiled at Dick’s child like fascination. “I got them in England. You can try them on if you like.”
Roy bent over, slipped off the shoes and handed them to Dick, who slid them on his feet with gusto. He rocked back and forth like Dorothy wearing the emerald slippers.
“They’re so cool,” Dick muttered.
“They fit you perfectly. Take them. They’re yours.” Roy smiled broadly.
Dick looked shocked. “No, I can’t take your shoes.”
“I’ve got another pair just like them. Go ahead. Take them. They look great on you.”
Dick pumped Roy’s hand up and down, and then stared down at his feet encased in the new shoes. When we went out of stage for the rehearsal, Dick kept his eyes on the floor. He didn’t even react when the disc jockey introduced us to the band as Dick and Dee Bee.
We never worked with Roy Orbison again, but Dick wore Roy’s shoes for many years, always telling anyone who would listen about Roy’s generosity.
Dee Dee Phelps,CA,USA
The Dick and Dee Dee website:
(USED WITH PERMISSION)
HA HA…….great story! There was absoloutely NOBODY like Roy Orbison. I saw him in 1981 (I think) in Lubbock, Texas, when they had the un-veiling of the Buddy Holly statue at the Civic Center. Tony Joe White, the Crickets, and Roy Orbison performed, though I’m sure there were others. I think I had seats in the 5th or 6th row. This was the first time I ever saw Roy and I was about to find out why he was called “the human jukebox” as he just stood on stage, sang in the microphone, and never moved a muscle. No need to run around and show off on stage………he just sang the songs and shyly thanked the audience after each song. I’ll never forget him doing the ending for the song CRYING about 3 or 4 times that night as people continuously stood and cheered every time he hit “those” notes at the end of the song………I can still picture it in my mind as if it were yesterday and can still hear him hit those notes and the loud ovations he received! WOW!!!! I still get goosebumps just thinking about it…………….
Thank you so much for that wonderful story about Roy Orbison and
Just another example of how generous and sweet he was.
Thanks so much,
Hi Dee Dee,
I love the book. It really gives us a chance to get to know you and Dick.
Roy will always be atop my musical Mt. Rushmore. One of a kind singer/songwriter and one of a kind person.
Thanks for sharing.
Port Washington, NY.
Just wanted to say Hello to everyone.
Much to read and learn here, I’m sure I will enjoy !
Just a wonderful story, thanx Dee Dee.
(*Dee Dee Phelps: Thanks for your interest in the wonderful Roy Orbison.
Dee Dee Phelps, Apr. 2008)
About the author, Dee Dee Phelps:
Throughout the years I met so many wonderful people. This blog provides a way to re-connect with friends from the past and to forge new relationships in the future.
I’ve been a writer my entire life. On this blog you’ll hear stories…some current and some about past experiences. I’m hoping to get to know you better, so please write your stories, too.
I began my career in journalism, songwriting and singing at age sixteen. Since that time I’ve has been a newspaper columnist, top forty recording artist (singing as Dick and Dee Dee, one of the most popular recording duos of the Sixties), songwriter, performer, and author of the newly released narrative non fiction memoir, Vinyl Highway.
Some of you fans of 60’s music might remember some of our hit records: The Mountain’s High, Tell Me, Young and In Love, Turn Around and Thou Shalt Not Steal.
www.dickanddeedee.com to view vintage videos).
Some of my exploits are chronicled in other books. “Rock and Roll and Remember,” by Dick Clark and “Liberty Records,” by Michael “Doc Roc” Kelly. In the past few years, I attended numerous memoir classes at UCLA as a writer’s program student during the years spent writing Vinyl Highway.
I also attended the Maui Writer’s Retreat, 2003.
So now, let’s write! Rock on!
Dee Dee Phelps, CA, USA