GAMES PEOPLE PLAY: The late Roy Orbison teaming with the Super Mario Brothers? Strange but true.
“I Drove All Night,” the first new song from the late Rock and Roll Hall of Famer since the release of his “Mystery Girl” album shortly after his death in late 1988, is the biggest prize of “White Knuckle Scorin’,” a “soundtrack” album for a new Nintendo video game. The Orbison single will be released by MCA Records on Wednesday, with the album due in stores Dec. 2.
The song was written for Orbison shortly before he died of a heart attack by the team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, whose parade of hits includes Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” Virgin Records--which has the rights to the recording--has long been excited about the song and was holding it for a key spot in a retrospective album and/or film biography that are now in the works.
So how does it end up in a Nintendo collection that is being released by another label?
The album is dedicated to the memory of rock booking agent and Nintendo player Bobby Brooks, who died in the 1990 helicopter crash that also killed Stevie Ray Vaughan. MCA Chairman Al Teller had long been thinking about doing an album to tap the Nintendo youth market (he’s a Nintendo ace himself) and he decided to combine that idea with a tribute to Brooks, who was widely admired in the industry. Some proceeds from the album will go to start a foundation to benefit a favorite Brooks cause: literacy.
Brooks had been Orbison’s agent--as well as that of Crosby Stills & Nash, Dire Straits, Flesh for Lulu and Sheena Easton, all of whom contribute songs to the album. Most of the songs were written specifically for the story line of the game.
“I know about the obsession some kids have with these games,” says Barbara Orbison, Roy’s widow. “But this project will give to kids with literacy problems and maybe even get to kids that are playing Nintendo too much.”