In the 1950s, Ricky Nelson
brought tender ballads and rock 'n' roll to living rooms across America, co-starring in his parents' weekly hit, "The Ozzie and Harriet Show
." For the first time, his most romantic recordings have been collected for a new CD and digital album, Ricky Nelson: Greatest Love Songs
, to be released January 15 by Capitol/EMI, just in time for Valentine's Day. The 22-track collection features 14 Top 20 hits, including the #1 smash, "Poor Little Fool." Two Ricky Nelson ringtunes will also debut on January 15.
Ricky Nelson became famous for the string of tender ballads he recorded throughout the 1950s, many of which he debuted on "The Ozzie and Harriet Show," sparking clamoring demand across the country for each of his new singles. But his recording career began almost as a fluke.
One night in 1957, Nelson was on a date with a young lady who swooned over an Elvis Presley
song playing on the radio. In a move to impress her, Nelson fibbed that he, too, was cutting a record, and the girl laughed in his face. Nelson entered a recording studio, sang a cover of Fats Domino
's "I'm Walking," and played it on "The Ozzie and Harriet Show." Within a week, the record had sold one million copies, an unheard of figure for the time. The track went to #2 on the Billboard chart and the b-side, "A Teenager's Romance," reached #2 as well.
From then on, Nelson performed a song at the end of every broadcast and quickly became the first teen idol (as coined by Life magazine). He played with a backing band that included bassists James Kirkland and Joe Osborn, and legendary guitarist James Burton.
On December 31, 1985, while en route from Alabama to a New Year's Eve show in Dallas, Nelson's DC-3 crashed in a field near DeKalb, Texas. None of the passengers survived.
Nelson was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Although he made his last recordings more than 20 years ago, Nelson's music remains timeless.
"To this day I consider Ricky Nelson one of the true pioneers of rock & roll." - John Fogerty
(Rolling Stone, "The Immortals" - April 21, 2005)
Ricky Nelson's most recent Capitol CD and DVD collections, Greatest Hits
and Ricky Nelson Sings
, respectively, were released in December 2005 to mark the 20th anniversary of his death. With first week sales of more than 18,000 units, the career-spanning Greatest Hits
was Nelson's highest chart debut since Garden Party's debut in 1972, and Ricky Nelson Sings
, which debuted many of his classic "Ozzie and Harriet" performances on DVD, was soon certified gold.
"Before I could play a guitar I used to take a tennis racket, stand in front of the mirror and pretend I was singing Ricky Nelson songs to my dream girl," says Chris Isaak
. "This was pretty much job training for my future. Nobody ever rocked so hard and looked so laid back at the same time. There is only one Ricky Nelson."
Ricky Nelson played a pivotal role in the development of rock 'n' roll, and there is no question that he remains one of the 20th Century's most intriguing entertainment icons.