Songwriter Bill Dees,"Oh, Pretty Woman" co-writer, dead at 73

Reuters News
Posted: Nov 01, 2012 2:41 AM
Songwriter Bill Dees,"Oh, Pretty Woman" co-writer, dead at 73

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer-composer Bill Dees, best known for his songwriting collaboration with Roy Orbison on the hits "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "It's Over," has died at age 73 in Mountain Home, Arkansas, according to an obituary posted online by a local funeral home.

Dees, a Texas native who got his start in the 1950s with a high school band called the Five Bops, is credited with writing scores of songs in all, some recorded by such performers as Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Glen Campbell.

But Dees' most fruitful collaboration was his work with fellow Texan Orbison, with whom he teamed up to write Orbison's signature 1964 hit, "Oh, Pretty Woman." which was featured years later in the soundtrack to the movie "Pretty Woman," starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

The band Van Halen also scored a hit with a cover version of "Oh, Pretty Woman."

According to various accounts, the song's refrain grew out of an offhand comment Dees made when Orbison's wife, Claudette, walked into the room where the two men were writing together, and Orbison asked her if she needed any money.

Dees cracked, "Pretty woman never needs any money," and the song took shape from there, with the bulk of the composition coming together in less than hour.

As recounted in one biography posted on Dees' official website, Dees also contributed uncredited harmony vocals on the record.

"Oh, Pretty Woman" went to No. 1 in United States and topped the charts in Britain, as did the 1964 Orbison ballad co-written by Dees, "It's Over," a considerable achievement given the dominance of the Beatles and other British groups on both sides of the Atlantic at the time.

Other Orbison singles Dees co-wrote included "Born on the Wind," "Crawling Back," "Communication Breakdown," "Walk On," "Windsurfer" and "So This Is Love."

Dees died last week, on October 24, at Mountain Home, where he had lived since 1989, according to an announcement posted on the website of the Kirby & Family Funeral Home, where a memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, November 3.

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Eric Walsh and W Simon)