"Stood Up" on New Years: RICK NELSON
Well, since we're on the subject of early rock n' roll "teen" stars who definitely don't get the respect they deserve, let's talk for a moment about RICK(Y) NELSON. While this post may seem out of the blue, it's unfortunately quite timely. Unfortunate because it was 22 years and one day ago, December 31, 1985, when Rick Nelson died alongside his fiance and band in a plane crash on his way to a New Years Eve concert in Dallas, Texas.
Rick Nelson's early career on his family's radio and television program (the massively popular The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) did nothing in the long run to help legitimize his music career. Nelson's musical performances on the television show did a great deal to bring rock n' roll into mainstream households and make the form palatable to conservative parents who may have been fretting where the younger generations obsessions were heading (remember, this was the generation who were frightened of Elvis's pelvis).
Sadly, Nelson's boy-next-door persona and insane good looks would pigeonhole him as one of rock's first "teen idols." This, paired with the fact that his father refused to let Nelson peform any one of Ricky's dozens of hits on any other show but his own, put the figurative shackles on his musical career.
It must have been perplexing for Nelson to deal with having so many hit singles and yet receiving little respect in his lifetime for being one of rock's earliest stars. While posthumous, his induction into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in its second ever induction (by John Fogerty) was a fitting tribute just a year after his death. Not long afterward, he was also inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Too little too late, perhaps, but respect is respect in my book.
"Stood Up": (Previously posted here in October 2005) A staple of my old DJ sets, "Stood Up" was usually played as the last song of the night, as a little joke to all those sad bastards still hanging around the bar trying miserably to arrange that last-minute hook-up. If I owned a bar, this is how I'd announce closing time every single night.
"Hello Mary Lou": How many great singles did Nelson have? So many that "Hello Mary Lou" was the frigging b-side to "Travelin' Man," and both were massive hits!
"Poor Little Fool": Written by Sharon Sheeley, the fiance of Eddie Cochran who - along with Gene Vincent - was one of the other passengers present in the car crash that would result in Cochran's death.
"I Will Follow You": Originally recorded under the title "Chariot" by Petula Clark, and then covered as "I Will Follow Him" by 14 year old Little Peggy March, who had a #1 hit with the song the same year that Nelson recorded it, 1963.
"Lonesome Town": Whether or not you'd like to admit it, appearing on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack can go a long way to re-igniting interest in an artist's career. I probably wasn't 18 years old the first time I heard "Lonesome Town," but I'm pretty sure catching it on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack sparked a newfound interest in this guy I'd always assumed was as square as Pat Boone.
"Garden Party": Nelson's biggest (only?) late-career hit, "Garden Party" tells the story of a concert in the early 70s where Nelson joined other rock legends at Madison Square Garden, and was booed after performing new material (some reports say he was covering a Rolling Stones song). While it later came to light that the audience was possibly booing some police officers in the crowd, Nelson took the incident quite personally, leaving the stage and later penning one of the biggest hits of his career. "It's all right now / I've learned my lesson well / You can't please everyone so you've got to please yourself."
"My Rifle, My Pony, and Me" (with DEAN MARTIN): In what has to be one of the most pimp musical moments in celluloid history, crooner Martin joins up with Nelson for this classic little nugget of a country song, taken from the John Wayne movie Rio Bravo.
FOR MORE ON RICK(Y) NELSON:
- His official homepage if pretty packed with info, trivia, merch and more. The gallery of old 45" picture sleeves is a particularly fun way to waste a few minutes. And if you've been confused at my usage of Rick and Ricky tonight, please note that his own site uses both names as well.
- A bunch of Nelson clips over at YouTube