Today’s episode is called Birthdays. I was born October 18th, 1970 in Nashville Tennessee to Roy Orbison and Barbara Orbison. Some of my story is that I was created in Australia while my mom and dad were on their honeymoon. I was conceived overlooking the Sydney Harbor and the Sydney Opera House. They continued their honeymoon and went to Beverly Hills where they stayed at the hotel that’s in the movie Pretty Woman and then they went back to Nashville. I was born at 5:13 or 5:33 in the morning and strangely enough my brother Alex was born at 5:13 or 5:33 in evening. We were born on the same minute on a Sunday. I was born on a Sunday morning and in room at the time of my birth was Roy Orbison and his friend Johnny Cash. After the doctor, the nurse, my dad, and my mom held me, Johnny Cash would have been the fifth person to hold me as a baby. I consider that to be my first birthday.
Also born on October 18th is my great hero Chuck Berry. A very happy birthday to Chuck Berry. It was always debatable what day and year he was born but I think the consensus ended up being October 18th and I’ve always celebrated his birthday that day.
My first birthday…I only really remember the cake and that’s probably from seeing pictures of it. Wesley my older brother, John Carter Cash, and a nanny were there, and the cake was a round, yellow, smiley cake; I love smileys. My dad let me know years later that I would say “fmiley,” that was one of my first words and I couldn’t really say the “s” so I would say it through my nose. The cake was made by a woman who made cakes for Johnny and Roy. I remember I was with John Carter recently and I said, “do you remember the name of the woman who made those cakes for us?” He didn’t remember what I meant, and I said, “she made those great lemon cakes,” and he said, “oh yeah,” and then I said, “she made great coconut cakes.” She made these white cakes with coconut shavings on them. I remembered her name about a month ago, it was Miss Copeland; my mom would be happy that I remembered that. This is going way back when I was 1, 2, 3 years old. I got so excited when I saw Miss Copeland and she made me that great smiley cake so I’m forever grateful to her.
The next birthday that I remember of importance was my 5th birthday. Some years I would be a cowboy, a Viking, a fireman or whatever. I would wear that costume all the way from my birthday October 18th until Halloween or as far as I could go wearing it. I think my parents would hide it from me around November 10th. So, for about three weeks every year I would run around in sheets, a GI Joe costume, or whatever it was. That’s how I was traveling when I was in England, I was a cowboy for my 5th birthday. I was standing on the side of the stage and my dad said, “I have a special announcement to make, it’s my son Roy’s 5th birthday, Roy, come on out here.” I walked out, and he presented me with a guitar. I got my first guitar and my first guitar lesson on my 5th birthday. My dad gave it to me on stage as I was saying, and it was a magnificent birthday. He presented me with a guitar that was made by John Birch, it was a Stratocaster copy. While I was on stage the audience was clapping so much that I took a bow and my cowboy hat fell off, then the crowd erupted into more laughter and applause, so I played into the moment and I put back on the hat and took another bow and let it fall off my head again. It’s funny how kids can do that, you play into the crowd a little bit. I was happy to get the guitar and I think he let me speak and I said, “thank you,” in a high voice. We have a tape of that that I would like to play for you now. I listen to it every birthday, it’s my dad Roy Orbison on stage singing happy birthday to me.
That birthday was fantastic, my dad pulled out all the stops. It was right around the time they were making the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He had the Umpa-Lumpas there, they were orange with green hair. I had the real Umpa-Lumpas at my 5th birthday. The actors who played them were all big Roy Orbison fans and they came out to the show. We also had the band at the time and my mom there. I’ll never forget that birthday, I still remember a lot of it.
I’ll jump ahead to my 15th birthday when we had moved to California. I was 14 years old when we moved to Malibu and I saw skateboards everywhere, so that’s what I wanted. My mother and father took me to Rip City Skates in Santa Monica. They parked outside while I went inside for an hour and picked out all the wheels, bindings and the whatever it was I picked out. I came out with a Pal-Peralta which was popular at the time and is still a collectable. It was red with the skull and bones sword and I spent the next two years on that skateboard pretty much every day. While we were driving back with the skateboard they said, “where do you want to go to eat for your birthday, we’ll take you anywhere?” I said, “Jack in the Box.” We didn’t have Jack in the Box anywhere else but in California and for some reason I thought that was a great pick. We went to the Malibu Jack in the Box for my 15th birthday. I also got my first surfboard on my 15th birthday from Zuma Jay. There was a great surfboard store there called Zuma Jay, I believe it’s still there. Zuma Jay was a legend when I got to Malibu. We spent a lot of time in that store looking at the surfboards.
My 16th birthday was up in the hills of Malibu, we were staying in a house there at the time. I woke up and my dad was gone, that was one of the few birthdays that he wasn’t there, but my mom made up for it, she had cards and decorations everywhere. I was really shocked because I woke up in the morning and she’d spent all night long decorating, putting out the cake, and lighting the candles. It was just Alex, my mom, and I on my 16th birthday. I didn’t get a car for my 16th birthday and I don’t remember wanting a car for my birthday.
Afterwards, I started wanting a car, I don’t think my parents wanted to let me take off driving around LA in a car at 16 years old. By Christmas I got a fantastic car, a BMW. My first car was way too nice, I was way too spoiled but that was my first car. That was also my birthday present, but I didn’t really get it until Christmas. They played a joke on me that Christmas, they gave Alex all his toys and I had no toys, there was nothing under the tree for me, there was nothing anywhere; there were a couple of sweaters to be honest. I opened these sweaters and I was disappointed, Alex was getting great toys, then I’d open another sweater, and then Alex had a great toy. At the very end, I was nearly crying, my dad could see it, I was done with Christmas. Then he said, “look again,” and I looked down there and I had missed one little package; it was a very small little package with a bow on it. I was opening it, not even expecting anything, and there was a key, a car key that said “BMW.” I looked around the room and then I took off running and I didn’t say anything. I knew it had to be hidden in the garage since I didn’t see it outside. So, I’m running for the garage and my dad goes, “slow down, slow down, slow down.” They all got up and went with me, they went in first, Alex, my mom, and my dad and then they said, “alright come on in.” I opened the door and walked in and there was a brand new, shiny, black BMW with a giant red bow on it. They were all laughing, they were all in on it, even Alex knew about it. I didn’t know anything about it the whole time, I didn’t know how they snuck the car in, how they kept me out of the garage or anything. That was an extended birthday.
For my 18th birthday my dad was working so I didn’t see him, but I did get a hand-written letter that he wrote me that I still look at all of the time. It’s beautifully written and he says, “happy birthday, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it……your father, Dad.” I got a great letter that year and I missed seeing him, but he had to work late, I believe he was doing the re-records for the greatest hits.
Another super memorable birthday was my 26th birthday. I didn’t like to fly but somehow my mom talked me into flying to Paris. I think she told me she had to trick me again, she had to say there was business or something that we had to do. I believe she got me to London because she knew I loved London and then we got on the Eurostar and we went to Paris. I thought it was just going to be one day, but we stayed for the weekend. She rented this great roof-top apartment that overlooked the whole city, we had 360-degree views and we could see the Eiffel Tower. I just remember how sweet and fantastic she was, I guess I was really missing my dad and we didn’t have a very big family. It was just her and I walking up and down the river and going into little antique stores. We spent two hours in an antique map store looking at maps. We ate fish soup in a little restaurant, a little hole in the wall kind of place. We walked down these steps into a little tunnel area and ate down in that little tunnel. We saw the bridge where they have all those locks on the bridge and we saw the Notre Dame Cathedral; that was my 26th birthday. Looking back on it, it was one of the more memorable ones although it came again as a surprise, I didn’t know we were going to be in Paris for my birthday. That was one of my best birthdays, 26 years old, grown man, walking around with my mom in Paris. We had a great time.
I had a lot more memorable birthdays but I don’t remember them all immediately. I would have to look through pictures and think about where we were, but they were all great. That brings me to my birthday this year, I’m going to be in Los Angeles, California. We’re doing a Grammy Museum book signing for the new book that we’ve written. Alex, Wesley, and I wrote a book with Jeff Slate called The Authorized Roy Orbison. It comes out October 16th, 2017. On the 17th we’ll be at the Grammy Museum and that leaves me free on the 18th for my birthday. On my birthday we’ll be going to my parent’s grave site to put some flowers down there and say happy birthday to myself with them. We are going to the beach in Malibu and we may go swimming since there’s hot weather right now. Then we’ll end up in some nice restaurant with my family and some friends. We’re probably going to the Guitar Center in Hollywood, that’s one of my favorite places to go, I don’t know why but I can spend hours there. It’ll be going home; Los Angeles and Malibu are home to me.
It’s my birthday this week, October 18th and that’s why I did this Birthdays podcast, I thought I would tell you a little bit about myself and some of the highlights of birthdays I remember. It’s an easy one to do but thank you so much for letting me walk down memory lane and tell you some things that I experienced on October 18th. It’s kind of a celebration and this is part of my birthday present, doing a podcast for you. I hope you enjoy your birthdays and I hope I get to spend some birthdays with some of you guys. We’ll have to do some other birthdays, I’ll have to do my dad’s birthdays or my son, baby Roy the III’s birthdays; those are fun ones these days. To end, happy happy happy birthday and thank you for listening.