The legendary singer Roy Orbison’s wife and manager, Barbara Orbison, died in Los Angeles on December 6, the 23rd anniversary of her husband’s death. Barbara was the head of a music publishing company in Nashville called Still Working Music. She was fighting pancreatic cancer. She died at age 61, with her sons all around her.
After his wife, Claudette, died in a motorcycle accident in 1966, he met Barbara Anne Marie Wilhonnen Jacobs in the summer of 1968 in Leeds, England. Jacobs moved to the U.S. later that year, and the two got married in Nashville on May 25, 1969, when they were 17 and 32. The couple built a house in Hendersonville, Tennessee, just around the corner from where Orbison’s old house burned down, killing two of his three children.
In an interview earlier this year, Barbara told Spinner that Roy went from the 1950s to the 1960s well. “In the 1970s, he was putting his life back together. He didn’t want to do anything but be in love, have some money, and have a lot of fun. He was ready again by the 1980s.”
In 1988, when he was 52 years old and on a comeback tour with the Traveling Wilburys, Orbison died of a heart attack. With the help of the Wilburys and the release of “Mystery Girl” after his death, Barbara kept putting out her husband’s music on her Orbison Records label.
In 1998, the album “Combo Concert” came out. It had live recordings that had never been released before. The label also released a big box set and an “Authorized Bootleg Collection” with shows from 1969 to 1980.
Barbara was also in charge of “The Monument Singles Collection,” a two-CD/one-DVD collection of the “Only the Lonely” singer’s biggest hits and B-sides that came out earlier this year. She told Spinner, “I told them I couldn’t do another “Greatest Hits.” “I’m here to do one thing: tell you about this amazing man and musician named Roy Orbison.”
Wesley, Roy Kelton Jr., and Alexander are Barbara’s sons who are still alive. She will be buried next to her husband at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles. In Nashville, there will be a celebration of her life.
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