Raising hackles with ‘Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation’ scribe Joel Selvin

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On November 15, 1985, pouty-lipped, blue-eyed Rick Nelson signs autographs and poses for selfies backstage at the 3,500 capacity Manchester Apollo [renamed the O2 Apollo Manchester] in Ardwick Green, Manchester, England, during his final international tour only six weeks before he died. Photography by Iain Young, co-author of 1988’s “The Ricky Nelson Story: Hollywood Hillbilly” with John Stafford; Young’s wife Maureen gazes affectionately at Nelson in the background]

The Joel Selvin / Rick Nelson Interview, Part One

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“The river keeps on rolling, my lifestream keeps on flowing:” Rhinestones enhance the green shirt and dark jacket ensemble of a hunky Rick Nelson during his tenure shepherding the Stone Canyon Band circa 1974. Image Credit: The Melissa Fankhauser‎ Collection / Ricky Nelson Facebook group
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“Rick’s Place at the Sahara,” written by Joel Selvin and published in the Sunday, October 8, 1978, edition of the San Francisco Examiner. Image Credit: Black Press Group Ltd. / Newspapers.com
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Inaccurately dated as 1978, this backstage shot actually finds Hank Ballard, Rick Nelson, and Fats Domino truly enjoying each other’s company on August 22, 1985, at the since-demolished Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles. Nelson and Domino were in the midst of a three-week tour. Cameras were present that evening to tape the syndicated “Rockin’ with Rick and Fats” 60-minute television special that is still widely available. Both were on the same record label — Imperial — through 1963. The “Poor Little Fool” balladeer also recorded Domino’s “I’m In Love Again” for his second self-titled album in 1958. Note the foreboding aircraft necklace that Domino is innocently sporting. Ballard had been an entertainer nearly as long as Domino, fronting the Midnighters and scoring a dozen Top Ten R&B singles in the 1950s. He finally found significant pop crossover appeal in 1960 with his compositions “Finger Poppin’ Time” and “Let’s Go, Let’s Go, Let’s Go.” Photography by Jan Butchofsky-Houser / The “Jim the Curator Santa Barbara” Collection
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Possibly at the finale of a rocked up reimagining of “Believe What You Say,” 40-year-old showman Rick Nelson prepares to pump his fist into the air on February 24, 1981, during a high profile gig at the Ritz rock club in New York City. Nelson was promoting “Playing to Win,” his 23rd studio album and the final containing original material issued during his lifetime, as well as the non-charting “It Hasn’t Happened Yet” b/w the self-penned “Call It What You Want” single. Capitol, Nelson’s new record label, proved to be a brief, disillusioning experience. Photography by Gary Gershoff / Getty Images
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The black and white cover of “Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation,” dropped by San Francisco Chronicle pop music reviewer Joel Selvin on May 8, 1990. Image Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Contemporary Books / AbeBooks
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The long out-of-print “Teenage Idol, Travelin’ Man: The Complete Biography of Rick Nelson,” written by Philip Bashe and released in May 1992. Side by side the homogeneous nature of both covers depicting Nelson in the early ’60s becomes obviously apparent. Image Credit: The Kobal Collection / Hyperion Publishing
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“He sang his way into the heart of millions, but few knew the inside story:” “Cold Squad” cast member Gregory Calpakis is transformed into Rick Nelson for the DVD cover of “Ricky Nelson: Original Teen Idol,” originally distributed as a 93-minute VH1 television movie on August 22, 1999. In the background are Sara Botsford [devoted housewife Harriet Nelson], Jamey Sheridan [multi-faceted actor, writer, producer, director, bandleader, and composer Ozzie Nelson], and Anthony Lemke [producer-director-actor David Nelson]. Image Credit: ViacomCBS / Lightyear Video / Amazon
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Near the 1990 publication of his debut tome, “Ricky Nelson: Idol for a Generation,” San Francisco State University faculty alum Joel Selvin indicates his affinity for James Brown as a poster for Mr. Dynamite’s July 28, 1966, concert at the historic New York Apollo Theater is visible in the background. Photography by Tom Levy / Bill Graham Archives

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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