Orbison’s “Pretty Woman” Was Also a Cheater
(The following is an excerpt from my new upcoming Rock trivia book...more details soon.)
Q: OH PRETTY WOMAN is supposed to be about Roy Orbison's wife. Wasn't she somewhat of a troublemaker?
A: Well, to put it nicely, she had a cheatin' side. Claudette Frady – who was very attractive - married Roy Orbison when she was 16 and he was 21. The song he wrote about her, CLAUDETTE, became a hit in 1958 for The Everly Brothers (#30) as the b-side to ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM. In 1963 while Roy was on tour, Claudette wound up having an affair with the contractor that built their house in Tennessee. On Roy's next tour, he took her with him so she wouldn't sleep around; even so, she found time to cheat and they split for awhile, reconciling not long afterward. In 1964 Roy was home writing songs with Bill Dees when Claudette came sashaying in, saying she was going shopping and needed money. Dees then made the comment, "a pretty woman never needs any money." Roy immediately came up with the line "pretty woman, walking down the street" to which the opening drum beat is supposed to mimic a woman in heels walking down the sidewalk. They threw in “yeah, yeah, yeah” based on the Beatles' SHE LOVES YOU, Roy's growl, the ad-libbed “mercy” and the song was complete. As OH PRETTY WOMAN was rising on the singles charts, Claudette started cheating again and they divorced. They were both miserable and remarried in 1966; but 2 months later, as Roy and Claudette were riding their motorcycles, she was hit by a semi-trailer truck and killed instantly; she was only 24 years old.