Barbara Orbison was a force of nature. Artist, entrepreneur, visionary, my employer and friend. She left us 5 years ago today. Her passing was on the twenty third anniversary of Roy’s death.
Barbara hired me to run her publishing company, Still Working Music in the late nineties. Upon arriving, she told me, “I want you to run this company like it’s your own.” It was certainly a defining moment for me. (Of course, when I was let go the reason given was, “You’re running this company like it’s your own…”) She offered me the opportunity to rise from an independent song plugger to a general manager of an international publishing company in a flash. My new address book included not only contact numbers for every record company president on the planet, but also (at that time) the home numbers of the three remaining Beatles! (Almost called Ringo several times.)
She allowed me to travel abroad and create new business for the company. Those were incredibly hectic, crazy and amazing times.
A lot of industry people didn’t “get” Barbara, but the ones who mattered did. She was eccentric, for sure. But she had the gift of creativity and knew exactly where art and commerce intersected. Her production of Roy’s “Black and White Night” is one shining example. And the success of her publishing company continues today.
I will always be grateful to Barbara for the break she gave me and for the chance to learn the business from her.
Remembering Barbara Orbison today. Thank you!
Until next time, friends….be nice!
Chris Keaton is a Nashville TN based entertainment industry executive, music consultant, bon vivant and lover of great music, wine, fashion and fast cars.