The summer of 1959 had been another great one for Ricky Nelson, and as the evenings grew cooler, he was back in the album charts. After he posted almost simultaneous top ten hits in America with both sides of his Imperial single “Just A Little Too Much” and “Sweeter Than You,” Billboard’s Best Selling LPs listings for September 28 included a new entry for Songs By Ricky.
The album, his fourth, included further material by the Burnette brothers, Dorsey and Johnny, who had written several hits for Nelson already. Still only 19, and two years into his career as America’s biggest teen idol, Ricky was producing pop material to a consistently high standard, with the help of a top-notch band that featured guitar virtuoso James Burton. Pianist Gene Garf, bassist James Kirkland, and drummer Richie Frost were also part of what was, by now, a regular line-up, and there were backing vocals by the Elvis-endorsed Jordanaires. Burton himself would of course join the court of The King in later years.
The young star had gone all the way to No.1 with his first album Ricky in January 1958, a few months after bursting onto the singles scene. A swift, self-titled follow-up, reached No.7, before early 1959’s Ricky Sings Again made No.14.
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Songs By Ricky had a slightly tougher time, climbing only as high as No.22, and the following year of 1960 was also a little more restrained by comparison to his massive initial success. More Songs By Ricky went to No.18 that year. But if Nelson and his label thought that the writing was on the wall, they had reckoned without the next golden period he would enter, after turning 21, in 1961 and 1962, with hits like “Travelin’ Man” and “Hello Mary Lou.”
Buy or stream Songs By Ricky, in a double edition with Ricky Sings Again.