Roy Orbison - I Drove All Night [Single/Album Version]Details

This song was completed after Roy Orbison's death from unfinished recordings. There are two slightly different versions: a harder edge version that originally appeared on the White Knuckle Scorin' album and a slightly softened mix version that turned up almost a year later on Roy's King Of Hearts album. The hard version of the song was used in the video which starred Jason Preistley and Jennifer Connelly. It was supposedly written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly specifically for Roy Orbison, but he initially rejected it. Cyndi Lauper then recorded the song and had a hit with it in 1989. At this point, it's not clear if Orbison actually rejected the song and finally recorded it after Lauper had a hit with it, or if Orbison recorded the song before Lauper, but didn't release it at the time because he didn't consider it good enough. Celine Dion also recorded the song and released in in 2003.

"When I first heart the demo, it was maybe... two years ago. And, uh... From that moment I heard I Drove All Night I said, 'I've gotta have a go at that song. That's...' And that really talked me into doing more."
Jeff Lynne (1991 - Electronic press kit for King Of Hearts album)

"BARBARA ORBISON: They wrote a song especially for Roy at one time, after seeing Roy perform about five, six years ago. When I say 'they,' it's Kelly and Steinberg, you know, the song writing team. And so they wrote a song called I Drove All Night. And Roy stopped by the house one day, and put down the vocal for this song. So the song was left to us and Jeff Lynne went in to finish it. He did the production around it and, I think really honored the feeling of the song.

Jeff Lynne: So I had to do a lot of soul searching to think, 'Should I do this?' He's not here to say, 'Ooh,' y'know, 'I don't like that bit' or whatever. So it's a very touchy thing. I gave it lots and lots of thought before I did it. And then, I went in and, uh, y'know, it was actually another chance to work with Roy, y'know. Um... That's the way I see it. It's probably a selfish thing. But it was for a charity, and uh, so I thought it was a worthwhile thing. And, uh, Roy used to trust me quite a lot, believe it or not. And so, uh, I did it with... with as much integrity as I could and not... no twiddly bits, just very straight. Basically a very, very, um... I love the tune, I think, and Roy sings it marvelously well.

JENNIFER CONNELLY: I heard it about, uh, about a month ago when I first heard about the video was being done and the tape was... Because the song had never been released, um...

JASON PREISTLEY: It was covered by somebody, but it was never released by Roy.

JENNIFER CONNELLY: But his version had never been release so, uh, I had no opportunity to hear it. So that was the first time.

JASON PREISTLEY: It's about the same for me. And I heard it. And, uh... And when I heard it, I, uh... My enthusiasm about the project was, uh, was certainly matched by, uh, my enthusiasm for the song.

BARBARA ORBISON: We gave the song to the memory of Bobby Brooks. Bobby Brooks was the agent for Roy in the last year of Roy's life. And when Bobby died so suddenly in that helicopter crash, you know, some of us got together and we wanted to do something in memory of Bobby.

JENNIFER CONNELLY: I think it's so exciting, uh... I think it's so wonderful that this work is being done. Um, what they're doing is raising money from... for illiteracy.

BARBARA ORBISON: Well the story of the video is a boy driving all night to get to a girl. I think Jason [Preistley] brings to this video a wonderful quality.

JASON PREISTLEY: I brought my hair. That's all, just my hair.

BARBARA ORBISON: The video is done with lots of integrity and everybody felt really special one more time. You know, Jason turned around to me and, uh, and said, 'You know, this is really going well.' He said, 'Something bigger than all of us is working here.' And I said, 'Right you are.'"

Barbara Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Jennifer Connelly and Jason Preistley (1991 - Electronic press kit for I Drove All Night single)

"A couple of issues ago, I mentioned a Roy Orbison track produced and arrange by Jeff called I Drove All Night. Featuring a typically spine-tingling Big O vocal performance and a great spray-on, rockabilly production a la I'm Gone, the track made No. 7 when finally released as a single (MCA MCSTD 1652), despite being a Top Ten hit for Cyndi Lauper as recently as 1989 when it also made No. 7! (spooky, eh?) However, the song is not strictly speaking a cover version. Originally penned for (we presume) the Mystery Girl sessions, the writers Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, (who also wrote [ELO Part II's] Kiss Me Red!) later offered the song to Cyndi when Roy died before completing the track. It also appears on a compilation CD called White Knuckle Scorching [sic], produced to accompany a new Nintendo game, of all things!"
Andrew Whiteside (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #12)

"[Jeff Lynne] features on I Drove All Night and current single Heartbreak Radio, basically doing everything bar the main vocal!"
Andrew Whiteside (1992 - Face The Music fanzine #13)

"Roy Drove All Night (Again): No doubt most of our UK readers have seen the recent spate of car ads which use the Jeff produced track [I Drove All Night] as its soundtrack. Well, (surprise, surprise), it has been re-released by Virgin, backed with the classic Crying."
Andrew Whiteside (1993 - Face The Music fanzine #16)

"Hit songwriter Billy Steinberg shares, 'Tom (Kelly) and I wrote I Drove All Night as a tribute to Roy's music. We never thought he would record it. We just wanted to write a song to remind us of our favorite artist and writer.' A few months after writing the song, it was arranged for Orbison to meet Steinberg and Kelly at their studio in Kelly's home. 'I got weak in the knees as Roy pulled up. He was so gentle, soft spoken, humble. He came inside, sat down and told us stories about writing his hits. We must have asked a million questions.' Steinberg and Kelly ran the song down for Orbison, then the three put on headphones and stepped into the 16-track studio with Kelly at the controls. Steinberg continues, 'when he sang Uh huh, yeah, Tom and I looked at each other and turned to jelly. It was the answer to our dreams. It was the single most exciting moment in my career as a songwriter, when Tom and I heard him sing that line.' After Orbison's death, the demo made it's [sic] way to producer Jeff Lynne's hands, where he once again, handled the voice with care, completing this track for the King Of Hearts album. Released in 1992, I Drove All Night was a #12 hit in the UK."
Tanja Crouch and Roy Orbison (1996 - liner notes for The Very Best Of Roy Orbison)

"On January 13th 1992 Roy Orbison's first new song since(!) his death was released. I Drove All Night was the Steinberg/Kelly tune which Cindy Lauper had taken to the charts a few years earlier. Roy's version again made it as far as No. 7 in the British charts. [Heartbreak Radio] was together with I Drove All Night and eight non Jeff Lynne tracks also featured on Roy Orbison's King Of Hearts album [released in October 1992]."
Patrik Guttenbacher, Marc Haines, & Alexander von Petersdorff (1996 Unexpected Messages)
Editor's Note: I Drove All Night was first released on the White Knuckle Scorin' compilation, not King Of Hearts.

"Jeff Lynne's talents graced I Drove All Night. His deep understanding of music allowed him to match Roy's voice in ways no one else was ever able. Roy could sing flawlessly over anything Jeff played and Jeff could play perfectly behind anything Roy sang. They worked well together, and Jeff added yet another chapter in the genius of Roy's life. [...] 1992: I Drove All Night became a Top 5 international hit."
Roy Kelton Orbison, Jr. (2008 - The Soul Of Rock And Roll liner notes)

"Two of the songs [for Roy Orbison's King Of Hearts album] were not merely produced by Jeff, but completely stripped down and reconstructed by him, with the result that he played everything behind Roy’s lead vocal. The better-remembered of the two, I Drove All Night, had been offered to Roy by its writers Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, and he recorded it in 1987, but it remained unreleased at the time. It was then covered by Cyndi Lauper, becoming a top-ten hit on both sides of the Atlantic two years later. Jeff’s work on it sounded much more restrained than his contributions to Mystery Girl, as he explained: 'That’s probably because I was very careful about backing vocals. I was asked to put a lot on. So I did but I kept them very quiet. There was also a kind of unspoken agreement between Don, Robbie and myself that all the tracks on the album had to respect Roy’s voice, it had to be the focus of attention.' [...] The results added to Roy’s tally of posthumous chart singles in Britain, with [I Drove All Night] reaching No. 7 (as had the Cyndi Lauper version) and [Heartbreak Radio] No. 34, while neither even showed in the American Top 100."
John Van der Kiste (August 2015 - Jeff Lynne: Electric Light Orchestra - Before and After)

"Cyndi Lauper – I Drove All Night (originally written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly and performed by Roy Orbison): Having been released in 1992, a full four years after Roy Orbison’s death in 1988, Roy Orbison’s original version was also strangely only released once it was an established hit by Cyndi Lauper in 1987. Both releases managed to peak at number 7 in the UK singles chart, and both are beautifully haunting in their own special ways. The fact that both performers’ vocals on their respective recordings are utterly top notch means that the stylistic differences – one being a more typically rock n roll Jeff Lynne production, whilst the other is a much more synth n keyboards-driven affair – are almost too superfluous to mention. The longing is there in the lyrics and the melody, and both performers understand that."
Daniel Gumble (April 18, 2016 - Musical Instrument Professional website)

"[You Got It and California Blue] are included in The Ultimate Collection, in addition to the later Heartbreak Radio (from 1992's King of Hearts album) and I Drove All Night, a song written for Roy by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, but made famous by Cyndi Lauper. Her version was recorded after, but released before, the Orbison original."
Unknown (September 12, 2016 - Roy Orbison's The Ultimate Collection press release)

"By now the songs were coming fast and furious, Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, a successful songwriting team, who had penned Madonna's Like A Virgin, wrote I Drove All Night for Roy. He both loved the song and the energy the pair brought to their meetings. [...] By taking unfinished songs recorded by Roy in 1987 and 1988 and overdubbing new background tracks to them, and new album, King Of Hearts, was released in October 1992. If featured... a couple of tracks that were finished by Jeff Lynne (Heartbreak Radio and I Drove All Night). [...] Roy hit the Top 10 again with I Drove All Night and Crying with k.d. lang peaked at number 13 in the UK charts."
Roy Orbison Jr, Wesley Orbison and Alex Orbison with Jeff Slate (October 2017 - The Authorized Roy Orbison)

"My dad took most of 1986 to collect songs and write for 'the new album' that became Mystery Girl. In 1987, he recorded with everyone from T Bone Burnette to Rick Rubin. During this time, Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly pitched the song [I Drove All Night] to my dad and my dad recorded it with them. I think the song was a complete surprise to my mom and my dad only sang it that one time ever. It was such a gift to have for 1992 King Of Hearts album the my mom Barbara did with Jeff Lynne."
Alex Orbison (October 14, 2016 - The Huffington Post)

"Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly wrote it for Roy, and Roy just did a quick demo-- he literally ran through it twice-- and it got shelved. Cyndi Lauper recorded it and had a hit with it. The, after Roy passed away, they found these demos. Jeff Lynne cleaned it up and made quite a good record of it..."
Don Reedman (2017 - Vintage Rock Presents Roy Orbison Collectors Edition)

"Say Roy Orbison drove all night, crept in your room, woke you from your sleep ... would that in any way be all right? Is the question any better if it’s Cyndi Lauper, who actually had the first hit with I Drove All Night, though Roy cut it earlier, which leads to even more questions, probably answered by legal mumbo-jumbo, though the other answer is yes, for me, Cyndi’s more my type, being a woman and not dead.

Thing is, both versions -- let’s just not talk about the Celine Dion cover -- justly became hits, three years apart. Side by side, or back to back, they’re both propulsive, sensual, hook-filled. Cyndi’s makes more use of melodrama; romping guitars lead Roy’s cut, possibly added or mixed up higher by fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne, who boosted it onto the charts in 1992, four years after the man in black died. Cyndi’s puts that powerhouse voice up front; Roy’s attack stays characteristically slinkier, easier, even when he shoots into falsetto stratosphere at 2:48, a bit that might blow your mind, especially if you try to sing along and match that note without serious warmup and possibly tight underwear.

They’re both great driving songs. On the highway a few days ago, I listened, semi-obsessively, to both, for whatever random reasons. What I didn’t do, as you can guess because I’m not typing while dead, is watch the alluring videos. Neither of the vivid visualizations dodges the song’s overtly sexual thrust. In Cyndi’s, she’s decked out like a glam starlet from mid-20th century, putting aside her earlier Annie Hall vacationing in Toontown aesethetic, when not in a scarlet slip, or slipped out of that. She swings her mike and hips like Elvis, swooping alto-tenor to soprano as the King would have, had he been able. Then she gets naked -- apparently, in flickering frames -- hunkered down, as film images play across her back and carefully covered sides.

So. They didn’t try to go the sexy route with Roy. For all the fragile, tremulous beauty of that voice -- called the 'Caruso of rock,' Orbison’s believably listed as one of those rare singers with a four-octave range, and unlike melismatics such as Mariah Carey or Dion, didn’t abuse it -- he wasn’t considered a rock ‘n’ roll hunk like Presley, just a year older. Afflicted with bad eyesight from childhood, he wore dense glasses, dyed his near-white hair black, and draped himself in similar dark shades, standing mostly stock-still on stage. Had he the chiseled chin of a Chris Isaak, whose swoop clearly worships the master, or the swaggering authority of friend Johnny Cash, Roy could have become an even bigger star. When he passed of a heart attack, he was just 52, and in the midst of a comeback abetted by fans and fellow musicians such as Lynne, and Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce gave the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech for Roy, in 1987, just a year before the shy, stage-frightened man died: 'In 1975, when I went into the studio to record ‘Born To Run’ I wanted to make a record with words like Bob Dylan, that sounded like Phil Spector’s productions... but most of all, I wanted to sing like Roy Orbison.' The opening song on Bruce’s breakthrough record, Thunder Road, begins simply, evocatively: 'The screen door slams/Mary’s dress waves/Like a vision she dances across the porch as the radio plays/Roy Orbison singing for the lonely/Hey, that’s me and I want you only/Don’t turn me home again, I just can’t face myself alone again.'

In Roy’s I Drove All Night video, curvaceous actress Jennifer Connelly flirts outrageously, mugs in various sensual poses and tight clothes, draped over some clothes-hanger pretty-boy from an ’80s TV show. So that’s all right, at least on the more obvious levels.

One last driving question: What was Dion thinking? In her I Drove All Night video -- I broke down and checked it out -- she looks alternately to be fervently shrieking at Lovecraft’s Dark Ones, posing with Blue Steel like a space alien who’d been talked at about the concept of 'Sexy,' or mimicking wild adventures on dime horsey rides outside an old Kmart.

She shoots for a high, high note, too, late in the song, and, at least technically, hits it, though its resemblance to music is the same as that of a jellybean-filled Easter novelty to an actual life-bearing shelled zygote vessel. It’s the same note Roy nailed without making a big deal of being able to do it.

Pop music, while tied inextricably to visual style at least since Sinatra, and certainly once Little Richard and Elvis landed here on Earth, shouldn’t be tied down by static image failure. Because sometimes it’s perfectly cool to just stand and deliver. ’Cause Roy, whose plaintive voice answered all the lonely."

Mark Hughes Cobb (December 26, 2018 - Tuscaloosa News)

  • Running Time: 3:46
  • Record Date: 1987 (started) and 1991 (finished)
  • Record Location: Unknown
  • Written By: Billy Steinberg & Tom Kelly
  • Produced By: Jeff Lynne
  • Engineered By: Richard Dodd
  • Performed By: Roy Orbison (vocals, guitar), Jeff Lynne (all other instruments)

  • Released On:
    • White Knuckle Scorin' CD album (1991 November — USA — MCA MCAD-10440)
    • I Drove All Night CD single (1992 — UK — MCA MCSC 1652)
    • I Drove All Night CD single (1992 — UK — MCA MCADS 54419)
    • I Drove All Night cassette single (1992 May — USA — MCA MCACS-54287)
    • I Drove All Night CD single (1992 May — USA — MCA MCADS-54419)
    • I Drove All Night CD promo single (1992 May — USA — MCA CD45-2025)
    • I Drove All Night VHS videotape (1992 May — USA — MCA MCAV-10639)
    • King Of Hearts CD album (1992 October 20 — UK — Virgin VUS 58)
    • King Of Hearts CD album (1992 October 20 — USA — Virgin V2-86520)
    • King Of Hearts LP album (1992 November 16 — UK — Virgin VUSLP 58)
    • I Drove All Night 7" single (1993 — UK — Virgin VUS 79)
    • I Drove All Night CD single (1993 — UK — Virgin VUS CD 79)
    • I Drove All Night CD promo single (1993 November — USA — Virgin DPRO-12744)
    • The Very Best Of Roy Orbison CD album (1996 November 4 — UK — Virgin CDV2804)
    • The Very Best Of Roy Orbison CD album (1996 — USA — Virgin Records America 7243 8 42350)
    • Love Songs CD album (2001 — Europe — Virgin VTDCD 360)
    • Greatest Hits DVD (2003 July 15 — USA — Eagle Vision EV30043-9)
    • Greatest Hits DVD (2004 February 2 — UK — Eagle Vision EREDV328)
    • The Platinum Collection CD album (2004 August 2 — UK — Virgin VTDCDX632)
    • Greatest Hits DVD/CD (2004 October 19 — USA — Eagle Vision EV 30092-9)
    • Greatest Hits DVD (2004 October 25 — UK — Eagle Vision ERDVCD020)
    • The Essential Roy Orbison CD album (2006 March 28 — USA — Sony 82876816082)
    • The Essential Roy Orbison digital album (2006 March 28 — USA — Sony 884977725438)
    • The Essential Roy Orbison digital album (2006 March 30 — UK — Sony 884977725438)
    • The Very Best Of Roy Orbison CD album (2006 October 16 — UK — Sony/BMG 82876 81276 2)
    • King Of Hearts CD album (2007 October 20 — UK — Sony 886971120424)
    • King Of Hearts digital album (2008 April 15 — USA — Legacy 886971120455)
    • Black & White Night/King Of Hearts CD album (2008 September 15 — UK — Sony 88697365162)
    • The Soul Of Rock And Roll CD album (2008 September 30 — USA — Legacy 88697 05537 2)
    • The Best Of The Soul Of Rock And Roll CD album (2008 November 24 — Europe — Sony Music 88697-40992-2)
    • The Soul Of Rock And Roll digital album (2009 February 10 — USA — Legacy 884977045659)
    • The Soul Of Rock And Roll digital album (2009 May 17 — UK — Legacy 888880705372)
    • The Essential 3.0 Roy Orbison CD album (2009 August 25 — USA — Legacy 88697 42581 2)
    • The Soul Of Rock And Roll CD album (2010 November 8 — USA — Legacy 88697 05537 2)
    • King Of Hearts digital album (2014 April 14 — UK — Legacy 886971120424)
    • The Ultimate Collection LP album (2016 October 29 — Worldwide — Legacy 0889853799916)
    • The Ultimate Collection CD album (2016 October 29 — Worldwide — Legacy 88985379982)
    • The Ultimate Collection digital album (2016 October 29 — Worldwide — Legacy ?)

  • Top UK Chart Position: 7
  • Top US Chart Position: - Did not chart

  • Used in the Advertising Campaign: Peugeot TV ads (1993 — UK)