Roy Head, the musician known for his 1965 hit "Treat Her Right," died Monday at the age of 79 in his home in Porter, Texas, his family members told Variety Tuesday. The rocker, whose most famous song reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B chart in 1965, had a resurgence last year when Quentin Tarantino raved over the use of it for the credits in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, 29 years after it was used in the 1991 film The Commitments.
"Memphis was always first and foremost in my mind. Cause that's where all the bad boys come from," Head recalled of his love of the Tennessee city in a 2008 interview with The Commercial Appeal. "I have been fortunate in my life to work with Jerry Lee Lewis, Bobby Bland. The only one I never worked with was Elvis. And the only reason I never took any of those gigs is I knew there was no reason to get up there with him. You don't get on stage with a pagan god, 'cause the Roman will fall real quick."
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top eulogized Head as a "rock ’n’ soul phenomenon who had been one of our early and continuing inspirations. Roy will always be remembered for his music, his drive and the fact that, as he liked to put it, he was most happy when he was ‘a-wigglin’ and a-gigglin’."
Head is also the father of Sundance Head, who was crowned the Season 11 winner of The Voice after singing "Treat Her Right" as a duet with coach Blake Shelton in 2016. Sundance had previously made the semifinals of American Idol in 2007, at which point his father told USA Today, "I’m still out here scratching, still doing flips and splits and all that stuff — but it’s tough when you’re double sixes," as per Variety.
Head's genius was appreciated publicly by Tarantino as he opened the film at the Grammy Museum in 2019, calling the song "50% of me doing the movie." While he originally had "a much more elaborately planned opening credit sequence in [his] mind forever and even shot footage for it," the filmmaker said he was moved to "throw in the Roy Head song" when he was filming the scene with Sharon Tate in the Pan Am first class 747 couch lounge area. "The song is maybe only two minutes long," he continued. "Start off with a honky-tonker and then just burn for two minutes and then boom, we’re done, we start the movie."