1958 Ricky Nelson – Waitin’ In School
Ricky Nelson was the son of a singer and a bandleader. His parents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, began broadcasting their own radio show in 1944. The show featured light comedy about family life. Professional child actors initially played the parts of Ricky and his brother David. The boys began reading their own parts in 1949 when they were 8 and 12 years old.
The family starred in the film Here Come the Nelsons in 1952, and the success of the film led them to replace their radio show with a half hour television show on ABC. The show was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, running through 1966.
Sixteen-year-old Ricky wanted to impress his girlfriend. She was a fan of Elvis, and Ricky boasted to her that he would also be recording records. The first two songs he recorded became a two-sided hit on Verve Records. Ozzie added lip-synced performances by Ricky to the end of one or two shows each month and that helped turn him into a teen idol.
A Teenager’s Romance and a cover of the Fats Domino record I’m Walking reached #2 and #4 on the pop charts in early 1957. After another single, Ozzie negotiated a better contract and moved Ricky to Imperial Records. His first single for Imperial also became a two-sided hit, with Be-Bop Baby reaching #3 on the chart in 1957.
Ricky’s first hit single in 1958 featured Stood Up as the a-side. The song reached #2 on the charts, held off of the top spot by Danny and the Juniors’ hit At The Hop.
The b-side, Waitin’ In School, gave Ricky his third double-sided hit when it peaked at #18 on the Hot 100. Johnny and Dorsey Burnette wrote the song, resulting in one of Ricky’s strongest rockabilly recordings.
Ricky landed at least seven singles in the top forty in 1958, and another five the next year. Most people know he changed his name to Rick Nelson when he turned 21 in 1961. It may surprise you to learn that he returned to using Ricky when he began a comeback tour in 1985. Later that year, Ricky was killed in a plane crash.
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