It probably isn’t that unusual for someone to turn in outstanding performances in several types of music and still fall short of sustained stardom. But it is a little surprising that someone as talented as Roy Head, who conquered everything from rock to traditional country to blue-eyed soul, topping the charts with his unforgettable “Treat Her Right,” would pretty much miss the boat to long-lasting fame.
The Texas-born Head was the leader of a group called the Traits, one of many rockabilly-themed outfits around in the late 1950s, but even in the early days the guys often veered off into R&B territory. Some of the group’s early records reflected that influence, but it was confirmed in a big way within a few years. Although Head’s previous records had done well, 1965’s “Treat Her Right” was a huge hit on both pop and R&B charts.
Many fans of the song initially thought Head was black, but his performance was so vibrant and memorable that it didn’t really matter. His live show was even better, and his stage moves reminiscent of James Brown wowed fans too. (See first video below.)
Many other artists would also record the song but one of my favorites occurred years later, when the performers in The Commitments, a movie that was dedicated to blue-eyed soul — the Irish variety — would have fun with it.
Roy Head never had another hit of that magnitude but he continued to perform and record in a number of styles, often combining country, blues, and a few other things too. Some of his best songs include “Apple Of My Eye,” “The Door I Used To Close,” and “Come To Me.” In later years he leaned more to traditional country music, and he continues to occasionally entertain fans even now.