Ricky Nelson: A Closer Look at the TV/Music Idol's Life & Career and His Connection to Elvis, Johnny Cash & John Lennon

Herbie J Pilato

Photo byAmazon.co.uk

According to IMDB.com, actor/pop-music idol Ricky Nelson, who died in a tragic plane accident on New Year's Eve in 1985, once said, "A career is a series of comebacks."

As IMDB also notes, Nelson starred with his older brother David Nelson and their parents in the legendary TV show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

IMDB further chronicles the following about Ricky, who idolized Elvis Presley:

Johnny Cash wrote the song "Restless Kid" for him to sing in Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo (1959). But music director Dimitri Tiomkin insisted that Nelson perform the folk song "Cindy" and Dimitri Tiomkin's own "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me." Cash's "Kid" tune, which helps to define Ricky's Rio Bravo role as "Colorado" in less than two minutes, never appeared in the film. Instead, it was released on Nelson's third album, Ricky Sings Again.

Years later, in 1971, Ricky, the former brother-in-law of Mark Harmon and Kelly Harmon, appeared at The Rock Revival at Madison Square Garden. For that performance, he was not informed that he was to don wardrobe from the 1950s, his original era of popularity. So, he received boos from the audience, which inspired him to write the hit song "Garden Party."

As IMDB also notes, Ricky was elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, one year after his demise. He was also voted the 91st Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone. And according to the January 23, 2005 issue of TV Guide, that magazine listed him as #2 in their list of "TV's 25 Greatest Teen Idols."

A beloved performer across the board, Ricky, was the first teen idol to use television as a way to promote hit records. As IMDB also reports, his version of the song, "I'm Walkin'," reached #4 on the Billboard singles chart and sold over a million copies after he performed it on television.

As IMDB also chronicles, Ricky was good friends with former Beatle John Lennon, who also died too young and tragically (after being shot on December 8, 1980, by Mark David Chapman).

As IMBD.com concluded, ever since Ricky's demise in a private plane crash on New Year's Eve, 1985, "it had been speculated that the fire that caused the crash was the result of drug use - supposedly freebasing cocaine - either by Nelson himself or by one of his crew. This theory has since been discredited by, among other sources, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in their official report on the crash. Their evidence shows that the cause originally given for the crash (an onboard heater short-circuiting and catching fire) is the correct one."

To read more about Ricky Nelson, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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