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Born as Gerhard Hollerich on January 25, 1943, German romantic ballad singer Roy Black started in the pop music business as a rock & roll artist, forming the group Roy Black & His Cannons in 1963 at the age of 20, taking the stage name Roy Black from his dark hair color and a lifelong fascination with the American singer and songwriter Roy Orbison. The group signed a contract with Polydor Records, but the label increasingly pushed Black as a solo artist, and by the late '60s Black had been entirely recast as a singer of lushly orchestrated romantic pop ballads, becoming one of Germany's most successful recording artists through the early '70s. Beginning in 1967 Black began appearing in a string of German movies and television shows, usually always musical comedies. His career as a pop singer faded, but he was on the verge of a comeback when he died on October 9, 1991, reportedly of heart failure, although his history of alcoholism and substance abuse led some to speculate that he deliberately overdosed on various medications in order to take his own life.