Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: I have recently discovered the song “This Lonely Heart,” by a singer who sounds like Roy Orbison. The arrangement even sounds perfect for a Roy Orbison hit single.

I know there is a musical about Roy titled “This Lonely Heart.” Could it be the song I've heard is from that musical and performed by a talent that has captured the spirit and essence of Roy's delivery?

I have searched without success all sources available to me including music publications, Roy Orbison fan clubs, countless LP and CD track listings (USA and British), and several Orbison web sites.

“This Lonely Heart” is found at many of the music download sites, but the MP3 version making the rounds is incomplete. Is the complete song available?

Tell me what you can about the “This Lonely Heart” mystery.
— Cal Stout

DEAR CAL: You are absolutely right about “This Lonely Heart” being “performed by a talent that has captured the spirit and essence of Roy.” So convincingly that I doubt anyone could tell this amazing impersonator from the real Roy Orbison.

It is also correct to connect this tune with the musical with a similar title, currently playing all over Great Britain. Earlier, “This Lonely Heart” ran through 40 successful dates throughout Canada.

The star of “This Lonely Heart: The Roy Orbison Experience” is Larry Branson, a Canadian now with 15 years experience doing Roy Orbison tribute concerts.

In 1989, the year after Orbison died, Larry began a four-year stint impersonating Roy in the renowned “Legends of Rock and Roll” stage show.

Producers of another British musical, “The Roy Orbison Story,” spotted Branson working the “Legends” show and signed him to star in their new musical tribute.

Next for Branson came “This Lonely Heart: The Roy Orbison Experience.” For this revue, Larry wrote the tune that has you spinning your wheels: “This Lonely Heart.” Here is where the spinning ends.

As a Branson original, written in 1998, you now know why you cannot find it on any of Orbison's albums.

An 18 track “This Lonely Heart” CD exists, containing eight studio tracks and 10 recorded live during the “Legends of Rock and Roll” shows.

DEAR JERRY: I read one of your past columns on No. 1 C&W hits (1944 through 2002) where you list Conway Twitty with 40 No. 1s. However, his web site says he had 55, so who's right? Can I find a list of them somewhere?
— Edwin J. Reine, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR EDWIN: Being unfamiliar with the site you mention, I do not know their sources. The universally accepted music chart source is Billboard magazine, so we'll list his No. 1 hits according to them — as conveniently compiled in Joel Whitburn's Billboard “Top Country Singles”:

1968: “Next in Line.” (1)

1969: “I Love You More Today; To See My Angel Cry.” (3)

1970: “Hello Darlin'; Fifteen Years Ago.” (5)

1971: “After the Fire Is Gone; How Much More Can She Stand; Lead Me On.” (8)

1972: “(Lost Her Love) On Our Last Date; I Can't Stop Loving You; She Needs Someone to Hold Her (When She Cries).” (11)

1973: “Louisiana Woman, Mississippi Man; You've Never Been This Far Before.” (13)

1974: “There's a Honky Tonk Angel (Who'll Take Me Back In); As Soon As I Hang Up the Phone; I See the Want To in Your Eyes.” (16)

1975: “Linda on My Mind; Touch the Hand; Feelins; This Time I've Hurt Her More Than She Loves Me.” (20)

1976: “After All the Good Is Gone; The Games That Daddies Play; I Can't Believe She Gives It All to Me. ” (23)

1977: “Play, Guitar Play; I've Already Loved You in My Mind.” (25)

1979: “Don't Take It Away; I May Never Get to Heaven; Happy Birthday Darlin'.” (28)

1980: “I'd Love to Lay You Down.” (29)

1981: “Rest Your Love on Me; Tight Fittin' Jeans; Red Neckin' Love Makin' Night.” (31)

1982: “The Clown; Slow Hand; The Rose.” (35)

1984: “Somebody's Needin' Somebody; I Don't Know a Thing About Love (The Moon Song); Ain't She Somethin' Else.” (38)

1985: “Don't Call Him a Cowboy.” (39)

1986: “Desperado Love.” (40)

In parenthesis, at the end of each year above, is a running count of the No. 1 hits.

My guess is that the other 15 songs they are counting are hits that missed No. 1 on Billboard, but still made their Top 5. Many of those definitely topped some of the nation's local and regional charts.

As you see, the only years from 1968 through '86 that Conway did not have a No. 1 hit are 1978 and '83.

IZ ZAT SO? Conway Twitty's most famous tune ever did not make the C&W charts, as it came out about seven years before his switch to a country music style.

For the record, “It's Only Make Believe” did reach No. 1 on the Pop and Rock charts in late 1958.

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