Twenty-three years to the day since her husband passed away, Barbara Orbison died on Tuesday (Dec. 6) at USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. She had battled pancreatic cancer since her admission into the hospital in May. She was 60.
Born in Germany, she met rock star Roy Orbison in London where the Beatles had opened for him in an earlier U.K. tour and she later married him in Hendersonville, Tenn., in 1969. They remained together until his death, also in Hendersonville, in 1988.
During his life, she became his manager and guided his recording and touring career through such highlights as his stint as “Lefty Wilbury” in the very successful Traveling Wilburys (a band that also featured Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne), a Grammy Award for his rerecording of “Crying” with k.d. lang and for the television special A Black and White Night Night with Bruce Springsteen and other prominent artists.
After her husband’s death, Barbara Orbison opened an office and publishing company in Nashville to administer his estate and legacy with Roy Orbison’s music reissues as well as finding and nourishing new songwriting talent. She continued with both efforts throughout her life, with the publishing company providing No. 1 songs for Taylor Swift and other country artists and with many Roy Orbison rereleases.
She is survived by her sons Roy Kelton Orbison Jr. and Alexander Orbie Lee Orbison and Roy’s son from a previous marriage, Wesley Kelton Orbison.
She will be buried next to her husband at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angeles. Following a private graveside service, the family will announce plans for a celebration of life reception at the BMI offices in Nashville.