is the debut album by American actor and rock and roll musician Ricky Nelson
, released in 1957
The album topped the Billboard LP chart.
Eric Hilliard Nelson (May 8, 1940 – December 31, 1985) was an American rock and roll star, musician, and singer-songwriter. From age eight he starred alongside his family in the radio and television series The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. In 1957 he began a long and successful career as a popular recording artist. Nelson's first album, Ricky
, was released in October 1957 and hit #1 before the end of the year. Following these successes, Nelson was given a more prominent role on the Ozzie and Harriet show and ended every two or three episodes with a musical number. Ozzie Nelson later had the idea to edit footage together to create some of the first music videos.
At age thirteen, Ricky was making over $100,000 per year, and at sixteen he had a personal fortune of $500,000. Nelson's wealth was astutely managed by his parents, who channeled his earnings into trust funds. His parents permitted him a $50 allowance at the age of eighteen, Rick was often strapped for cash and one evening collected and redeemed empty pop bottles to gain entrance to a movie theater for himself and a date.
As one of the top "teen idols" of the 1950s his fame led to a motion picture role co-starring alongside John Wayne and Dean Martin in the western feature film Rio Bravo (1959) and received a Golden Globe nomination for "Most Promising Male Newcomer".
He placed 53 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.
On May 8, 1961 (his 21st birthday), he officially modified his recording name from "Ricky Nelson" to "Rick Nelson". His childhood nickname proved hard to shake, especially among the generation who had watched him grow up on "Ozzie and Harriet". Even in the 1980s, when Nelson realized his dream of meeting Carl Perkins, Perkins noted that he and "Ricky" were the last of the "rockabilly breed."
In 1985, Nelson began a "Comeback tour" with Fats Domino. He put the "y" back on his name and became "Ricky" again. He sang the songs for which he was famous and released a greatest hits album. His comeback was cut short when, while on the tour circuit, his plane crashed.
Nelson dreaded flying but refused to travel by bus. In 1985, he decided he needed a private plane and paid $118,000 for a 1944 Douglas DC-3 that had once belonged to Jerry Lee Lewis. The plane had been plagued by a history of mechanical problems. A malfunction prevented Nelson from participating in the first Farm Aid concert. In December 1985, Nelson and band members took off from Guntersville, Alabama for a New Year's Eve show in Dallas. On December 31, 1985, the plane crash-landed in a cow pasture less than two miles from a landing strip, hitting trees on its way down. Seven of the nine occupants were killed. Pilots Ken Ferguson and Brad Rank escaped.
He had four children: Tracy Kristine, twin sons Gunnar Eric and Matthew Gray
, and Sam Hilliard. A year after the death of their father in a plane crash, Lorne Michaels agreed to have Gunnar and Matthew Nelson
as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live
, at the request of their manager at the time. They became the first unsigned band to play on the show. Matthew was the lead singer and bassist, while Gunnar played the drums. As they returned home from the show, Gunnar told Matthew that they should start sharing the front stage together. Gunnar promised to learn to play guitar and did so in a year. They achieved success with their double platinum debut album After the Rain, which featured the number-one hit "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection". Matthew and Gunnar also perform under the name of Ricky Nelson Remembered, as a tribute to their father. They are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family to reach number one record status in three successive generations
(beginning with grandparents Ozzie and Harriet Nelson).
Rick Nelson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
in 1987. In 1996, Nelson was ranked #49 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time. In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Nelson #91 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
After releasing his first two singles, "A Teenager's Romance"/"I'm Walking" and "You're My One and Only Love," on Verve Records, Ricky Nelson switched to Imperial Records in the fall of 1957 for his third single, "Be-Bop Baby"/"Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?," and his debut album, Ricky. The result was even greater success: the single's A-side reached the top five and its B-side the Top 40, making for a gold record, and the LP topped the charts.
Heard at length for the first time on the 12-track album, the 17-year-old continued to display the combination of natural pop instincts and genuine rock & roll feel that set him apart from the burgeoning pack of Elvis Presley imitators. He was derivative, to be sure, a TV star from a celebrity family who attended Hollywood High School and whose life had been scripted for public consumption since he was eight years old, making him a far cry from the Hillbilly Cat. But he also sang rhythmically in his smooth voice, negotiating the rock & roll beat with far greater ease than Pat Boone. Two songs were borrowed from Carl Perkins and one from Jerry Lee Lewis, and Nelson covered Jimmie Rodgers' recent hit "Honeycomb." All of his covers were more relaxed, less frantic than the originals, but the band, pushed way back in the mix, kept up a steady guitar combo sound. There were also several updates from what could have been the Ozzie Nelson catalog: "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You" (1945), "Am I Blue?" (1929), and "I'm Confessin'" (1930), plus a version of the recent Cole Porter hit "True Love." In Nelson's hands, these songs sounded more like Elvis Presley than Bing Crosby, though the older generation was never quite forgotten, and that was the idea.