Roy Kelton Orbison was born on April 23, 1936, in Vernon, Texas, United States to the family of an oil well driller and car mechanic Orbie Lee Orbison and a nurse Nadine Vesta Shults. Like many of the South’s rock pioneers, Orbison’s earliest musical influences came from the sounds of country and gospel music; his intent was to become a country music performer. His father and uncles taught him to play guitar when for his sixth birthday, Orbison asked for a harmonica, but his father gave him a guitar. Together with Clois Russell, Orbie Lee’s neighbor and workmate, they would often play and sing. The first song Roy ever played was the classic “You Are My Sunshine.” He learned very quickly, so that way he could stay up late with the grown-ups and sing.
The Orbison family moved to Forth Worth sometime in 1942. In Forth Worth, they found employment in the munitions and aircraft factories that had been expanded due to America’s entry into World War II. But due to epidemic polio in 1944, Roy and his elder brother Grady were sent back to live with their maternal grandmother, a divorcee, in Vernon. When the War was over, the family re-united in Vernon and soon moved out west to Wink, Texas, in late 1946.