“Poor Little Fool” was Ricky Nelson’s first number one, but his sixth hit overall. In 1958, Billboard changed the way it displayed the hits. Before this there were several charts, one for jukebox play, one for radio play, and one for record sales in stores. There were probably others, but these were the top three. They decided to consolidate everything into one chart and The Billboard Hot 100 was born. That chart still exists today. “Poor Little Fool” was the first number one on the new Billboard Hot 100 chart.
It’s interesting to me how some performers feel about their own work, especially when that work is loved by the public. “Poor Little Fool” was written by Sharon Sheeley, who was Eddie Cochran’s girlfriend, for Ricky’s second album “Ricky Nelson”, but he hated the song. He didn’t want it released as a single, but Imperial Records (his label) did it anyway. I guess creative control only went so far. The record eventually sold two million copies. Now, he was stuck singing it for the rest of his career. He did manage to veto a picture sleeve for the 45 record, but that didn’t seem to hurt sales. He hated the song so much that he refused to play it on the TV show.
The writer of “Poor Little Fool,” Sharon Sheeley traveled with Eddie Cochran and it was just a couple years later, in 1960, that they got into a terrible car crash in Britain that took the life of Eddie Cochran.
Some might remember that Ricky’s sons came into prominence in 1990 as the group they just called Nelson. They had a number one hit called “(I Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection.” If the number one project is still running when we get to 1990, I will talk about that song then, but the important thing to note here is that there were three generations of the same family that have had number one songs.
Ricky’s father Ozzie Nelson was a bandleader in the Thirties and Forties and had a number one with “And Then Some” which went to number one in 1935. Ricky, of course had two number ones, “Poor Little Fool” and “Travelin’ Man”. Now his sons “Nelson” have a number one. This is the only time in music history that three generations of the same family have all had number one hits. It’s happened many times for two generations, but only once for three.
“Poor Little Fool” entered the pop chart on July 7, 1959 and stayed at number one for two weeks.
Next: “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)” – Domenico Modugno