Forty-four appearances on the Billboard singles chart in a little over six years. That was the proud track record of Rick Nelson by September 1963, when he revived a World War II hit by Glenn Miller for his next successful 45.
‘Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread)’ was written in 1940, with music by New York composer Rube Bloom and lyrics by the celebrated Johnny Mercer. In those days in which new potential hit copyrights were seized upon by multiple recording artists, several versions of the number made Billboard’s charts that year.
Miller & his Orchestra had the biggest wartime hit with their version, which made the listings in June and spent a week at No. 1 the following month. August brought further hit interpretations, by vocalist Tony Martin and by Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra, whose vocalist was a 25-year-old from New Jersey called Frank Sinatra.
The song was revived for a post-war audience by Jo Stafford in 1953 and Keely Smith four years later, and then emerged again in the early 1960s, with versions by a myriad of artists. Brook Benton, Shirley Bassey, Brenda Lee, Etta James, Doris Day and Al Hirt were all among those covering it before Decca Records chose it as Nelson’s new single, and saw it revive his fortunes.
By the later months of 1963, for all that great chart history, Rick had been without a top 20 US hit since ‘It’s Up To You.’ That was, admittedly, only eight months earlier, but four singles after that had performed relatively modestly, in the period in which Nelson switched labels from Imperial to Decca.
‘Fools Rush In’ made its start on the 14 September Hot 100 at No. 87, right next to Roy Orbison’s new entry with ‘Blue Bayou.’ This time, Rick was onto a winner, and the song climbed steadily over the next months before landing at No. 12 in November. Before the year was out, he would be reviving an even older song in ‘For You’ and getting an even bigger hit.
‘Fools Rush In’ is on the album Rick Nelson Sings For You, which can be bought here.