Why Did Roy Orbison Wear Sunglasses?

Why Did Roy Orbison Wear Sunglasses?

Roy Orbison, a legendary American singer-songwriter, was not only known for his powerful and emotive voice but also for his signature look of wearing dark sunglasses. Throughout his career, Orbison rarely appeared in public without his trademark shades, sparking curiosity and speculation among his fans and the general public. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind why did Roy Orbison wear sunglasses and explore the various theories surrounding this iconic fashion statement.

The Origin of Roy Orbison’s Sunglasses

Roy Orbison Sunglasses
Source: Billboard

Roy Orbison’s association with sunglasses can be traced back to the late 1950s when he first began wearing them during his live performances. The origins of this distinctive choice can be attributed to a practical reason rather than a mere fashion statement. Orbison suffered from a visual impairment, specifically a condition called myopia, which affected his ability to see clearly at a distance. The use of sunglasses helped him overcome the challenges posed by his vision while performing on stage.

Personal Insecurities and Performance Anxiety

Beyond the practical aspect, Orbison’s decision to wear sunglasses may have been influenced by personal insecurities and performance anxiety. Orbison was known to be a shy and introverted person, and he often felt self-conscious about his appearance. In an effort to shield himself from the scrutinizing gaze of the audience, he adopted the sunglasses as a form of protection. The shades acted as a barrier between Orbison and the outside world, giving him a sense of security and allowing him to focus on his music rather than his own self-doubt.

Creating a Mystery and Stage Persona

Roy Orbison’s sunglasses also played a crucial role in crafting his stage persona and creating an air of mystery around him. The dark shades obscured his eyes, making it difficult for the audience to discern his emotions and adding an enigmatic quality to his performances. This element of intrigue further captivated the audience, enhancing Orbison’s allure as a performer. The sunglasses became an integral part of his image, elevating his status as a rock and roll icon and setting him apart from other artists of his time.

As Orbison’s career progressed, his sunglasses became inseparable from his identity as a musician. They became synonymous with his image and were even considered a fashion statement. In the 1960s, when the Beatles and the Rolling Stones dominated the music scene, Orbison’s unique style, including his sunglasses, helped him stand out from the crowd. The sunglasses became a recognizable symbol of his persona and contributed to his enduring legacy as a music legend.

Medical Issues and Health Concerns

In addition to the aforementioned reasons, there were also medical factors that influenced Orbison’s continued use of sunglasses. In the mid-1960s, Orbison experienced a personal tragedy when his wife, Claudette, died in a motorcycle accident. This devastating event left him emotionally scarred, and he found solace in wearing sunglasses to shield his eyes from the public, concealing his grief and emotional pain. Furthermore, Orbison suffered from chronic migraines, and the sunglasses helped alleviate the sensitivity to light often associated with this condition.


Roy Orbison’s decision to wear sunglasses throughout his career was a multifaceted choice, influenced by both practical considerations and personal factors. While his visual impairment played a significant role in adopting sunglasses, they also became a symbol of his shyness, stage persona, and mystique. Orbison’s sunglasses created an aura of intrigue around him and helped him establish an iconic image that remains etched in the annals of music history. Ultimately, Orbison’s choice to wear sunglasses not only protected his eyes but also contributed to his enduring legacy as one of the most influential musicians of all time.

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Yasir Jamal
By Yasir Jamal

Hey folks, meet Yasir Jamal here. As a blogger for more than six years, my passion has never faded. I love writing in a variety of niches and writing about outdoor gear and helpful guides for your outdoor ventures. This site is mainly focused on sunglasses. I have a keen interest and bringing in the right information and honest reviews in my blog posts. So stay with me and never spend another dime on a worthless product.

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