Barbara Orbison, widow of rock legend Roy Orbison, passed away in Los Angeles yesterday (12/6) following a battle with pancreatic cancer. In May of 2011 she underwent treatment at USC Medical Center and was ultimately re-admitted in mid-November. She was 60.
Roy Orbison passed away on the same day 23 years ago in 1988. The two met at a nightclub in Leeds, England in 1968 when Barbara was 17 and Roy was 32. They were married in Nashville in 1969.
Barbara Orbison (born Barbara Anne Marie Wilhonnen Jacobs in Germany) managed her husband’s career and estate since the 1980s, including co-producing the 2008 box set titled Roy Orbison: The Soul of Rock and Roll (Sony Legacy), the first all-inclusive anthology of Roy’s lengthy career. In 1998, she accepted the Recording Academy’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Roy, and in 2010 accepted his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Boulevard.
A respected entrepreneur, Barbara ran operations for Nashville-based publishing company Still Working Music, which was awarded with BMI’s Song of the Year honor in 2010 for Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” She also developed and launched a perfume line called Pretty Woman in 2009.
“Barbara loved the Nashville music community and was adored by many here and all over the world,” said Clay Myers, GM/VP for Orbison Music/Still Working Music. “She was a true champion for songwriters and loved the music publishing business! I have truly been blessed to have been able to work for her for the past 10 years. She was a great lady who will be deeply missed.”
She is survived by sons Roy Kelton Orbison, Jr., and Alexander Orbison.
Barbara will be buried next to her husband at Westwood Village Memorial Park in Los Angelas, and a private graveside service will be held. The family will announce plans for a Celebration of Life reception at BMI’s offices in Nashville. Donations in her memory may be made to the Roy Orbison Foundation, c/o Leeann Hard, Forte Management, 725 Arizona Ave., Ste. 206, Los Angeles, CA 90401. The family requests that messages be sent to: [email protected].