‘Songs By Ricky’: Ricky Nelson Enlists James Burton And Jordanaires

After almost simultaneous US top ten hits with ‘Just A Little Too Much’ and ‘Sweeter Than You,’ the teen idol charted with the ‘Songs By Ricky’ album.

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 posting 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 28 September included a new entry for Songs By Ricky.

Listen to Songs By Ricky right now.

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.

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.

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.’

Songs By Ricky, in a double edition with Ricky Sings Again, can be bought here.