About The Song

The song was written for Orbison’s first wife, Claudette Frady. One day, she left for the store — by “walking down the street” — and by the time she returned, Orbison had written what would become his most enduring hit.

Frady died in a motorcycle accident in 1966, two years after the song hit No. 1 on the charts.

Orbison’s second wife, Barbara Orbison, says the song was “like Bruce Springsteen said: It’s the best girl-watching rock ‘n’ roll song ever.”

Independent producer Ben Manilla spoke with Barbara Orbison and Bill Dees, the co-writer of “Oh, Pretty Woman,” to tell the story behind of Roy Orbison’s most enduring hit.

“He turned to me with the guitar lick, and he said, ‘I feel like I need to say something while they’re playing [that guitar lick],'” Dees says. “I said, ‘Well, you’re always saying [the word] ‘mercy,’ why don’t you say mercy?’ You know, I said, ‘Every time you see a pretty girl you say mercy.'”

This track was prominently featured in the 1990 film “Pretty Woman” with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.
On May 14, 2008, The Library of Congress selected “Pretty Woman” for preservation in the National Recording Registry.

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