- Category : Entertainment-Actor-Actress
- Type : PSP
- Profile : 6/2 - Role Model / Hermit
- Definition : Single
- Incarnation Cross : LAX Defiance 1
American singer and songwriter, one of the first teen idols, later named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As a second career, he became an impassioned tennis player as a young adult.
The second of two sons born into the show business family of his perfectionist dad, Ozzie and Harriet Hilliard Nelson, Ricky worked with his mom and dad on radio in 1949 and on TV in "Here Come the Nelsons" in 1952. Their TV show, "Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," 1952-'66, was the longest running family show ever seen on TV and the nation watched as young Ricky grew up. His first of five movie appearances was in "The Story of Three Loves" with Ethel Barrymore in 1953.
When a high school girlfriend swooned over Elvis Presley, he said he would make a singing record. Getting a band together, he recorded Fats Domino's "I'm Walkin," sang the song on their TV show and the following week sold one million singles. He was essentially the first video rock star. Appearing on the cover of Life magazine in 1958, he was promptly dubbed a teen idol. Clean cut and good looking, he smuggled rock and roll into America's living rooms. He was the first person to top the "Billboard Hot 100" chart. By 21 he had recorded nine gold singles and sold 35 million records with an income of $400,000 a year.
Ricky wrote most of his own material. In 1963 Ozzie made him sign a 20-year contract with Decca records, completing his last album for them in 1974. By the mid-1960's his popularity ended with the British music invasion. In 1969 he made a comeback with a new group, the "Stone Canyon Band," featuring the West Coast sound. His last hit was "Garden Party" in 1972. In 1977 he recorded for a new label. In 1975, Ricky's dad died.
Rick married teen sweetheart Kristin Harmon, 17, in April 1963. They had four kids; Tracy in 1963, twins, Matthew and 45 minutes later, Gunnar on 20 September 1967 and Sam in 1974. His marriage folded in 1967 with his wife accusing him of being a cocaine freak, leading to a bitter five-year battle up to a divorce in 1982.
On 31 December 1985, New Year's Eve, Rick, his fiancé of two years and five band members perished in the crash of a DC 3 plane; the pilot and co-pilot survived. They left Guntersville, Alabama at 2:00 PM and crashed three hours later near DeKalb, Texas. Rick had traces of cocaine, marijuana and alcohol in his system. The cause of the crash was declared to be a faulty heater in the rear of the plane though the suspicion lingered that free-basing had caused a fire and explosion, bringing the plane down
At the time of his death, Rick was doing about 200 dates a year at state fairs, bars and clubs. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in December 1987.