October 24, 2011
The Beatles era was in full flower during 1964 and the face of popular music was changing. Ricky Nelson’s brand of rock ‘n’ roll was becoming antiquated and his commercial success was coming to an end, until a comback during the early 1970s when his sound went in a country/rock direction.
“A Happy Guy” was released November 28, 1964 and only reached number 82 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It deserved better as it was a catchy, up-tempo pop/rock creation that was on a par with his best material. Even the flip side, “Don’t Breathe A Word,” is still worth a listen.
It remains among my top ten Ricky Nelson songs and is well worth seeking out among his vast catalogue of material.
October 17, 2011
Rick Nelson played a concert at Madison Square Garden on October 15, 191 with the likes of Chuck Berry and Bobby Rydell. He began with “Hello Mary Lou” and “She Belongs To Me” but then played a verson of The Rolling Stones, “Honky Tonk Woman,” and the booing got so bad he left the stage and did not return.
It all ended well as he wrote a song about the experience. “Garden Party” was released July 29, 1972 and reached number six on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
The song started a career comeback for Nelson that continued until his death.
June 28, 2011
Ricky Nelson was at the height of his popularity when he released “Teen Age Idol,” August 11, 1962. It was an autobiographical song about one of the true teen idols of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The song would resonant with his large fan base, which would propel it to the number five position on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.
The single’s B side was “I’ve Got My Eyes On You.” it looked back to his early rockabilly days and is a forgotten gem in his vast catalogue of material.
January 22, 2011
Rick Nelson covered Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin'” two months after its release. That was typical during the fifties as white artists would issue pop versions of the rhythm and blues hits of the day. Many times this prevented the R&B versions from becoming hits on the pop charts. Once in awhile the originals would sneak through.
Ricky Nelson sang “I’m Walkin'” on the Ozzie & Harriet show and then released it as the B side of his first record during May of 1957. “A Teenager’s Romance” would reach number two on the pop charts and “I’m Walkin'” would reach number four, which was exactly the same position Fats Domino’s version reached.
Nelson’s early singles had a rockabilly feel and this two sided hit was no exception. He also had the advantage of presenting his material on one of the most popular television shows of the era.
“I’m Walkin'” remains an excellent outing from one of the original teenage idols.
October 31, 2010
“Poor Little Fool” was released during mid-1958 and became Ricky Nelson’s first number one hit spending two weeks on top of The United States music world. He had reached number two, twice and three, once but had never made it to the top of the mountain.
It was close to a traditional ballad with a soft vocal that just flowed freely past the senses. While he would issue some up-tempo hits in the future, this song would lead him in a pop direction with good commercial results.
Also of note, it was the first song to reach the top of BILLBOARD MAGAZINE’S newly named Hot 100 chart.
October 27, 2010
Ricky Nelson released the double sided hit “Be Bop Baby/Have I Told You That I Love You” during 1957. His first two hits had been issued on the Verve Label but now he switched to Imperial which would become his home for 38 of his 54 chart singles.
This was back in the era when one single could produce two hits and so it was here. “Be Bop Baby” reached number three and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” checked in at number 29.
The songs were a good match. “Be Bop Baby” looked back to his rockabilly roots with a stacatto beat while “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You” was a romantic ballad originally made popular by Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters in 1950.
This is Rick Nelson at the beginning of his career and while the songs would not rank with his very best work, they were still very good.
October 10, 2010
“Fools Rush In” is an old Johnny Mercer/Rube Brown song that Glen Miller took to number three on the charts way back in 1940. It would reach The United States singles charts three more time during the pop era. Brook Benton would record a smooth version which reached number 24 during 1960. Etta James would release it as a flip side to a single during 1962 and it would sneak onto the charts at number 87.
Rick Nelson would record the song a year later. It would reach number twelve on the American charts during 1963. He did not know it at the time but his commercial career was nearing its end. “Fools Rush In” was his 43rd of 54 titles to reach the American charts.
He gave a traditional performance of the song that falls into the pop category. It was effective but not his best vocal and certainly did not have the smoothness of Benton’s version. He would only have two more songs make the American top twenty.