Roy Kelton Orbison (April 23, 1936 – December 6, 1988) was an American singer, songwriter, and musician known for his powerful voice, wide vocal range, impassioned singing style, complex song structures, and dark, emotional ballads. The combination led many critics to describe his music as operatic, nicknaming him “the Caruso of Rock” and “the Big O”. While most male rock-and-roll performers in the 1950s and 1960s projected a defiant masculinity, many of Orbison’s songs instead conveyed vulnerability. His voice ranged from baritone to tenor, and music scholars have suggested that he had a three- or four-octave range. During performances, he was known for standing still and solitary, and for wearing black clothes, to match his dyed jet-black hair and dark sunglasses, which lent an air of mystery to his persona.
A Black & White Night Live is a Roy Orbison music album made posthumously by Virgin Records from the HBO television special, Roy Orbison and Friends: A Black and White Night, which was filmed in 1987 and broadcast in 1988. According to the official Roy Orbison discography by Marcel Riesco, the album was released in October 1989 and included the song “Blue Bayou” which because of time constraints had been deleted from the televised broadcast. However it did not include the song “Claudette” and “Blue Angel” which were also cut from the original broadcast for the same reason. The SACD/CD Hybrid Audio Disc includes “Blue Angel” as a bonus track – the SACD/CD Hybrid Disc is contained in a pack with the DVD released by Image Entertainment, USA (ID27700BDVD). “Claudette” was included in later releases of the concert. According to Riesco’s discography, all tracks are now released on the 30 year anniversary “Black & White Night 30.”
On piano was Glen D. Hardin, who had played piano for Buddy Holly as well as Elvis Presley. Lead guitarist James Burton, drummer Ronnie Tutt and bassist Jerry Scheff were also from Presley’s group. Male background vocals and some guitars were provided by Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther and Steven Soles. Female background vocalists were k.d. lang, Jennifer Warnes and Bonnie Raitt.
The show also had a number of celebrities in the audience such as Kris Kristofferson, Billy Idol and Sandra Bernhard.
On February 24, 2017, a 30th anniversary edition, titled Black & White Night 30, was released. The edition has been expanded, re-edited, and remastered, and it is available both as a CD/DVD and a CD/Blu-ray set. This release has sold 161,400 copies as of March 2017.