WINK, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- It’s been more than 30 years since Rock ‘n’ Roll legend Roy Orbison died. We traveled all the way to Wink and learned a lot about Orbison from people there and along the way we made a new friend … Helen Voyles.
Wink is a City in Winkler County with a population of about 1,000 people. In other words, everyone basically knows everyone.
“Everybody called everybody mom and dad,” said Helen Voyles.
Voyles has lived almost her entire life in Wink with her husband. The pair said the town is very united and everyone helps out each other no matter what.
Wink is considered a stop for music country fans. Why? Well, the legendary singer Roy Orbison lived there for part of his childhood and young adult life.
“Well he and I were just friends and he didn’t have a date and last minute he said let’s go and I said yeah … I’ll go,” said Voyles.
She’s talking about Orbison. That’s right, Orbison and Voyles went to prom together in the 1950s, but there’s not an actual picture of them during the high school dance.
Voyles said cameras weren’t a thing back then.
“I told him while we was dancing it would be much better if you were up there playing and it would have been,” said Voyles jokingly.
In high school, Orbison had formed a band with a group of friends called the Wink Westerners and later they changed their name to the Teen Kings.
We also paid a visit to Barbara Sabonya who has volunteered at the Roy Orbison Museum in Wink for more than 10 years.
“I do know that he (Roy) was on [with the Teen Kings] and they had a program on Saturday afternoon every Saturday at 4:30 p.m., but I don’t know what channel it was on at that time,” said Sabonya.
Well, we may have an answer for that. In the 1950s the Teen Kings performed for more than a year on a show on KMID which is now commonly called ABC Big 2. It wasn’t until the 1960s that Orbison’s career took off and his classic, Oh, Pretty Woman song became a hit.
He was known for rocking black hair, dark clothes and his signature piece … the dark glasses.
Voyles did mention Orbison had really bad eyesight as a kid.
“The iconic sunglasses is very just a tiny bit [of the story] that he left the glasses on a plane over in England, they’re handcrafted and he couldn’t get another pair made so he started using the sunglasses,” explained Sabonya.
Of course, we got to see the museum’s most treasured piece donated by the Orbison family themselves … the dark glasses.
“The first thing that surprised me when I saw them is the color they’re not dark black like they look in all the pictures,” Sabonya said. The glasses actually looked a tad bit purple.
The museum opened in 1989 and people from all over the world still flock to this place for a moment to go back in time. Almost every little thing in the museum has been donated.
People who visit can check out Orbison’s birth certificate, school yearbooks and even a movie poster. That’s right, many people don’t know Orbison starred in a movie called the Fastest Guitar Alive.
With much success, it wasn’t always a happy time for Orbison. He experienced overwhelming loss in his life.
“His home in Nashville burnt, he had two sons that drowned and he lost his wife on a motorcycle accident … it was sad,” shared Voyles.
After losing his wife Claudette and then two sons, Orbison remarried a few years later to a woman named Barbara.
Voyles said till this day she doesn’t know how he kept going after such loss, but Orbison continued to perform for decades.
She shared that Orbison was very quiet and she never saw him do really anything outrageous as a kid.
We also asked Voyles if she could tell Orbison anything right now, what would it be?
“I [would] tell Roy how proud I was of him and proud that he made … and made it big,” said Voyles.
Sabonya said that the City of Wink owns the building the museum is in and since only volunteers run the place, people have to call in advance to visit.
It’s free to get in, but monetary donations are accepted.
Sabonya’s phone number is below if you are interested in visiting the museum:
432-999-8838 or 432-227-5303