Oh, Pretty Woman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the film named after this song, see Pretty Woman.
"Pretty Woman"
Single by Roy Orbison
B-side "Yo te Amo María"
Released August 1964
Format 7" vinyl
Genre Rock
Length 2:55
Label Monument 45-851
Writer(s) Roy Orbison, Bill Dees
Producer(s) Fred Foster
Certification Gold (RIAA)
Roy Orbison singles chronology
"It's Over"
"Oh, Pretty Woman"
Music sample

"Oh, Pretty Woman" (originally issued as "Pretty Woman") is a song by Roy Orbison, written by himself and Bill Dees.[1] It was released as a single in August 1964 on Monument Records and spent three weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 – the second single by Orbison to top the US charts.[2] It was also Orbison's third single to top the UK Singles Chart chart (for a total of three weeks).[3] The record ultimately sold seven million copies and marked the high point in Orbison's career.[4] Within months of its release, in October 1964, the single was certified gold by the RIAA.[5] At the year's end, Billboard ranked it the number four song of 1964.[6][better source needed]

The lyrics tell the story of a man who sees a pretty woman walking by. He yearns for her and wonders if, as beautiful as she is, she might be lonely like he is. At the last minute, she turns back and joins him. The title was inspired by Orbison's wife Claudette interrupting a conversation to announce she was going out. When Orbison asked if she was okay for cash, his co-writer Bill Dees interjected "A pretty woman never needs any money."[7] Orbison's recording of the song, which used four guitars,[citation needed] was produced by Fred Foster.[1]

Orbison posthumously won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his live recording of "Pretty Woman" on his HBO television special Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night. In 1999, the song was honored with a Grammy Hall of Fame Award and was named one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #222 on their list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time." On May 14, 2008, The Library of Congress selected the song for preservation in the National Recording Registry and in 2012, Texas Music magazine ranked the song No. 7 on its list of "The Top 50 Classic Texas Songs".[citation needed]


There were four guitar players on the session: Roy Orbison, Billy Sanford, Jerry Kennedy, and Wayne Moss. Billy Sanford, who later played session for Elvis and Don Williams and many others, played the intro guitar. Williams introduced him as a kid who had just arrived Nashville, with a borrowed guitar, who heard Orbison was minus a guitar player, who went over and got the gig. Other musicians on the record included Floyd Cramer on piano, Bob Moore on an upright bass, Boots Randolph and Charlie McCoy on sax, and Buddy Harman and Paul Garrison on drums. Orbison played a 12 string epiphone.[citation needed]

Lawsuit against 2 Live Crew[edit]

In 1989, the controversial rap group 2 Live Crew recorded a parody of the Orbison song, using the alternate title "Pretty Woman" for their album As Clean As They Wanna Be. The 2 Live Crew sampled the distinctive bassline from the Orbison song, but the romantic lyrics were replaced by talk about a hairy woman and her bald-headed friend and their appeal to the singer, as well as denunciation of a "two-timing woman."

Orbison's publisher, Acuff-Rose Music sued 2 Live Crew on the basis that the fair use doctrine did not permit reuse of their copyrighted material for profit. The case, Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided in 2 Live Crew's favor, greatly expanding the doctrine of fair use and extending its protections to parodies created for profit. It is considered a germinal fair use decision.[8]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Preceded by
"The House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison

September 26, 1964 (three weeks)
Succeeded by
"Do Wah Diddy Diddy" by Manfred Mann
Preceded by
"I'm Into Something Good" by Herman's Hermits
UK number one single
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison (first run)

October 8, 1964 (two weeks)
Succeeded by
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" by Sandie Shaw
Preceded by
"(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" by Sandie Shaw
UK number one single
"Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison (second run)

November 12, 1964 (one week)
Succeeded by
"Baby Love" by The Supremes

Cover versions and parodies[edit]

The song has been covered by a number of artists:

In other media[edit]

  • The original Orbison song inspired the title for the 1990 feature film, Pretty Woman starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. The film featured the song, licensed from Orbison's publisher Acuff-Rose. Since the work that the film was based on bore a different title, the producers also licensed the trademark rights to the title.
  • The Van Halen version of the song was used in the mall scene in the 1985 John Hughes film Weird Science. This has been replaced in UK broadcasts and the initial home video release in the US with the Weird Science theme music by Oingo Boingo, presumably due to music clearance issues. When Weird Science was re-released on DVD in 2006, it was restored.
  • The song is playable in the videogame Band Hero. It was also released as downloadable content for the videogame Rock Band.
  • The song is heard on The Chipmunks' record Rockin' Through the Decades and the episode, "Sploosh" (which was a spoof of the film Splash).


  1. ^ a b Rice, Jo (1982). The Guinness Book of 500 Number One Hits (1st ed.). Enfield, Middlesex: Guinness Superlatives Ltd. p. 85. ISBN 0-85112-250-7. 
  2. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of #1 Hits, 5th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 157.
  3. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 186. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  4. ^ Lehman, Peter. Roy Orbison: Invention of an Alternative Rock Masculinity. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2003, p. 2, 13
  5. ^ "American certifications – Roy Orbison – Pretty Woman". Recording Industry Association of America. 
  6. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1964
  7. ^ Amburn, Ellis. Dark Star: The Roy Orbison Story. New York: Carol Publishing, 1990, p. 127
  8. ^ Jackson, Matt (March 1995). "Commerce versus art: The transformation of fair use". Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 39 (2): 190–199. doi:10.1080/08838159509364298. 
  9. ^ Kent, David (2005). Australian Chart Book (1940–1969). Turramurra: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-44439-5. 
  10. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  11. ^ "Ultratop.be – Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  12. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media) 76 (50): 19. December 12, 1964. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  13. ^ "Top Singles – Volume 2, No. 5, September 28 1964". RPM. Walt Grealis. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media) 76 (49): 15. December 5, 1964. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  15. ^ "Accès direct à ces Artistes: Roy Orbison" (select "Roy ORBISON" and then click "Go") (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media) 77 (1): 19. January 2, 1965. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  17. ^ "Officialcharts.de – Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman". GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  18. ^ "Search the Charts" (enter "Roy Orbison" into the "Search by Artist" box, then select "Search"). irishcharts.ie. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved August 22, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 1, 1965" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  20. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  21. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman". VG-lista. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  22. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media) 77 (8): 24. February 20, 1965. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  23. ^ "Archive Chart: 1964-10-10" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  24. ^ "Roy Orbison – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Roy Orbison. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
  25. ^ a b c Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2, illustrated ed.). Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 0-214-20480-4. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  26. ^ "American single certifications – Roy Orbison – Oh, Pretty Woman". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 21, 2014.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
  27. ^ The Newbeats, "Remember Love" single release Retrieved April 25, 2015
  28. ^ Chad Childers. "Van Halen, ‘Oh Pretty Woman’ – Banned Music Videos". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved 2015-03-21. 
  29. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 656.
  30. ^ Ray Dylan (2010-11-01). "Ray Dylan, Goeie Ou Country - Vol.2, CDs, Musica A World awaits - 6005298030511". Musica.co.za. Retrieved 2014-04-05. 

External links[edit]