Ricky Nelson became famous for the string of tender ballads he recorded throughout the 1950s, many of which he debuted on "The Ozzie and Harriet Show," sparking clamoring demand across the country for each of his new singles. But his recording career began almost as a fluke.
One night in 1957, Nelson was on a date with a young lady who swooned over an Elvis Presley song playing on the radio. In a move to impress her, Nelson fibbed that he, too, was cutting a record, and the girl laughed in his face. Nelson entered a recording studio, sang a cover of Fats Domino's "I'm Walking," and played it on "The Ozzie and Harriet Show." Within a week, the record had sold one million copies, an unheard of figure for the time. The track went to #2 on the Billboard chart and the b-side, "A Teenager's Romance," reached #2 as well.
From then on, Nelson performed a song at the end of every broadcast and quickly became the first teen idol (as coined by Life magazine). He played with a backing band that included bassists James Kirkland and Joe Osborn, and legendary guitarist James Burton.
On December 31, 1985, while en route from Alabama to a New Year's Eve show in Dallas, Nelson's DC-3 crashed in a field near DeKalb, Texas. None of the passengers survived.
Nelson was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Although he made his last recordings more than 20 years ago, Nelson's music remains timeless.