Ricky Nelson was a fixture on the bedroom walls and record players of millions of American fans from his 17th birthday onwards. Already a radio and TV celebrity, he then burst into the hit parade in May 1957 with “A Teenager’s Romance.” It took a little longer for his popularity to travel the Atlantic, with British fans giving him his first really big hit there with “Poor Little Fool” in the summer of 1958.
After opening that door, Nelson became a UK chart regular. “Poor Little Fool” was followed by top ten success for “Someday” and “It’s Late” and two other top 20 hits, before the new chart for September 11, 1959 showed Ricky with a new entry for “Just A Little Too Much.”
As ever, the single appeared on London in the UK, and Imperial back home, where the Johnny Burnette song had recently reached No.9. Nelson was still only 19, and it was already his tenth Top 10 hit in the US. The most remarkable thing about that statistic was that his 11th came with the other side of the very same single.
Two hits for the price of one
It was quite commonplace for the two sides of a 45 to earn separate chart positions in the US, where “Sweeter Than You” hit the Hot 100 a week later and also reached No. 9. Not the first time, two Nelson songs were racing each other, with each one taking the lead at different stages. It provided the answer to the chart trivia question of which artist had two different No.9 hits in the US within two weeks of each other in August 1959.
Such chart activity was much more unusual in the British market, which had “Just A Little Too Much” as the nominal UK b-side of “Sweeter Than You.” The latter song entered the chart there a week earlier and got as high as No.19. But “Sweeter Than You” was only ranked in its own right for three weeks, overtaken by the popularity of “Too Much.”
Soon, both sides would be appearing on his album Songs By Ricky, which reached No.22 in the States. Like all of his albums, it failed to make the UK bestsellers, but at 45 revolutions per minute, Ricky Nelson was a veritable hit machine.
“Just A Little Too Much” is on the album Songs By Ricky, which can be bought here.
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