In the early 1950’s, a young Ricky Nelson was just starting out in the music industry. He had big dreams and was determined to make it as a music star.
Despite some challenges along the way, Nelson eventually achieved massive success and became one of the biggest stars of the decade. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at his rise to fame and explore some of his most famous songs!
Ricky Nelson’s early life and how he got into music
Ricky Nelson was born on May 08, 1940, in Teaneck, New Jersey, United States. His birth name was Eric Hilliard Nelson. He was born to Harriet Nelson (nee Evelyn Melson) and Ozzie Nelson. Ricky was of English, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, and Swedish descent. His parents were popular radio stars in the 1930s and 1940s.
Ricky started his musical journey at a young age. When he was just eight years old, he appeared on his parents’ radio show. He sang a duet with his father on the song, “Up a Lazy River”. This was just the beginning for young Ricky Nelson. A few years later, he started playing guitar and wrote his first song, “I’m Walkin’”.
By the late 1950s, Ricky Nelson had become a bonafide star. His first hit song, “Poor Little Fool”, was released in 1958 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This made him the second-youngest artist to ever achieve this feat. His debut album, “Ricky Nelson Sings!”, was also a huge success. It reached number one on the Billboard 200 chart and cemented Nelson as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.
Ricky Nelson and the The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is one of the most beloved situation comedies in television history.
The show, which aired on ABC from 1952 to 1966, follows the lives of the Nelson family, including father Ozzie, mother Harriet, and their two sons, Ricky and David. Ricky Nelson became a breakout star on the show, thanks to his natural charisma and musical talent.
Over the course of the series, Ricky Nelson performed more than 200 songs on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, ranging from pop hits to country ballads. He also released several successful albums, including 1957’s Ricky Nelson Sings. Thanks to his role on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Ricky Nelson became one of the biggest teen idols of the 1950s and 1960s. He continued to enjoy success as a musician until his untimely death in 1985.
Ricky Nelson and his films
In addition to his musical career, Ricky Nelson also appeared in a number of films throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
Some of his most famous roles include appearances in The Story of Mankind (1957), Rio Bravo (1959), and The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1965). He also had a starring role in the 1956 film, Love and Marriage.
The success of “Poor Little Fool”
On August 4, 1958, “Poor Little Fool” became the first ever #1 single on Billboard’s newly instituted Hot 100 singles chart. The song was written by American singer-songwriter Sharon Sheeley and recorded by 18-year-old Ricky Nelson.
It was an instant hit, selling over two million copies and staying at the top of the charts for four weeks. “Poor Little Fool” remains one of Nelson’s most enduring hits, and its success helped to establish him as one of the biggest stars of the early rock ‘n’ roll era.
Here’s Ricky Nelson singing “Poor Little Fool”
Ricky Nelson’s last hit
Though he’d been retired for several years, in 1972 Nelson released “Garden Party” and it ended up becoming a minor hit. The song is notable for a few reasons – first, because it was a rare instance of Nelson writing about his own life, and second, because it was a marked departure from his usual style.
“Garden Party” is a wistful ballad, with Nelson looking back on a time when he tried to play at Madison Square Garden but was booed off the stage. The experience left him feeling jaded and he stopped chasing fame, instead choosing to focus on making music that he enjoyed. In the end, the song resonates because it’s a reminder that even legends can have humble beginnings.
Though he was past his prime, Nelson’s continued willingness to experiment kept him relevant and allowed him to reach a new generation of fans.
He ranked #91 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time
Ricky Nelson was one of the most successful American rock and roll musicians of the 1950s and 1960s. He ranked #91 on Rolling Stone’s 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
Nelson began his musical career in the late 1940s as a member of his family’s band, The Nelsons. His first hit single, “Poor Little Fool”, was released in 1958 and reached #1 on the Billboard charts. Nelson continued to have success with a string of hits including “Travelin’ Man” and “Garden Party”.
Ricky Nelson’s personal life
In 1957, when Ricky was 17, he met and fell in love with Marianne Gaba. They got married the following year and had four children together: Tracy, Gunnar, Matthew, and Sam. Sadly, their marriage ended in divorce in 1962.
Ricky went on to marry Kristin Harmon in 1963; they had two sons together, twins named Nelson and Christopher. Ricky Nelson died on December 31st, 1985 in a plane crash. He was only 45 years old. Though he was taken from us too soon, his music continues to live on.
The Comeback Tour
Ricky Nelson’s “Comeback tour” with Fats Domino in 1985 was a huge success. The two legends of rock and roll came together for a series of live concerts that thrilled audiences across the country. For Nelson, the tour was a chance to recapture some of the magic of his early career. For Domino, it was an opportunity to show the world that he was still a force to be reckoned with. The tour was a triumph for both men, and it is still remembered fondly by fans today.