If you listen to the handful of oldies radio stations that still exist today, you'd think that Ricky Nelson only had a couple of hit records. In reality, he had 62 records that made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 and Bubbling Under charts. He had 36 songs in the Billboard Top 40, 19 of those being in the Top 10. He had only two Number One hits, however, Travelin' Man and Poor Little Fool.
You might be wondering about some of his other classics, such as Hello Mary Lou. That only went to #9 on Billboard, but it hit #1 regionally, like on 1050 CHUM in Toronto, WLS-AM Silver Dollar Survey in Chicago, and even RTE in Ireland. He even had a #1 hit in Australia with his cover of Yes Sir That's My Baby. Garden Party and For You both peaked at #6 on Billboard's Hot 100, but they did manage to make it to Number One on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart.
This song, however, never made it on to any airplay or sales charts, anywhere in the world.
Be True To Me was released on Imperial EP 159 in 1958, shortly after his first #1 hit, Poor Little Fool, and a little bit before It's Late and Never Be Anyone Else But You. It was also around the time he was filming Rio Bravo with John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Walter Brennan (A great movie, by the way, that you should rent if you haven't seen it yet).
This is the #1 hit record that Ricky Nelson made that, for some strange reason, was completely overlooked by radio stations...
Ricky Nelson was born Eric Hilliard Nelson on May 8, 1940 at 1:25 in the afternoon at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey. What a life he had! When he was just nine years old, he became part of a radio sitcom that had already been running since 1944 which featured his family, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Hilliard Nelson, and brother David. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet moved to television in 1952 and began an incredible run that lasted for 14 years. Right around that same time, Ricky appeared in a movie based on the show called Here Come The Nelsons. By the time he was 13, Ricky was earning over $100,000 a year (which put him in the 93% income tax bracket back then!) But his parents managed his money and only gave him an allowance of 50 bucks, which often left him hurting for cash as a kid who literally attended Hollywood High School.
Ricky was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on January 21, 1987. He died when the airplane that carried him and his band crashed near DeKalb, Texas on December 31, 1985. I plan to visit that crash site later this year.