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Eric Hilliard Nelson placed fifty-three songs on
the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1973, including nineteen top-ten
hits, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January
Nelson began his entertainment career in 1949 playing himself in the
radio sitcom series, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, and, in 1952,
appeared in his first feature film, Here Come the Nelsons. In 1957, he
recorded his first single, debuted as a singer on the television version
of the sitcom, and recorded a number one album, Ricky. In 1958, Nelson
recorded his first number one single, "Poor Little Fool", and, in 1959,
received a Golden Globe Most Promising Male Newcomer nomination after
starring in the western film, Rio Bravo. A few films followed, and, when
the television series was cancelled in 1966, Nelson made occasional
appearances as a guest star on various television programs.
Nelson and Sharon Kristin Harmon were married on April 20, 1963, and
divorced in December 1982. They had four children: Tracy Kristine, twin
sons Gunnar Eric and Matthew Gray, and Sam Hilliard. On February 14,
1981, a son was born to Nelson and Georgeann Crewe. A blood test in 1985
confirmed Nelson was the child's father. Nelson was engaged to Helen
Blair at the time of his death in an airplane crash on December 31,
Nelson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, and to
the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
at 1515 Vine Street.
Along with the recording's other participants, Nelson earned the 1987
Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for "Interviews from the Class
of '55 Recording Sessions."
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked Nelson number 91 on their list of the 100
Greatest Artists of All Time.
At the 20th anniversary of Nelson's death, PBS televised Ricky Nelson
Sings, a documentary featuring interviews with his children, James
Burton, and Kris Kristofferson. On December 27, 2005, EMI Music released
an album titled Ricky Nelson's Greatest Hits that peaked at number 56 on
the Billboard 200 album chart.
Bob Dylan wrote about Nelson's influence on his music in his 2004
memoir, "Chronicles, Vol. 1".
Nelson's estate (The Rick Nelson Company, LLC) owns ancillary rights to
the Ozzie and Harriet television series, and, in 2007, Shout! Factory
released official editions of the show on DVD. Also in 2007, Nelson was
inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
John Frusciante song "Ricky" was inspired by Ricky Nelson.
For the 25th anniversary of Nelson's death, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer
James Burton, Nelson's original guitarist for nearly ten years, spoke
about his friendship and experiences with the singer in an extensive
series of interviews for Examiner.com. The first installment is entitled
"Remembering Rick Nelson: An Interview With His Friend, Guitarist James