Singer Ricky Nelson

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on December 4, 2005

Who was America's first singing "teen idol"? Was it Elvis?
—A. Dover, Jupiter, Fla.

The term "teen idol" was first used by Life magazine in 1958 to refer to … drumroll please … Ricky Nelson. The fresh-faced, rockabilly-pop singing sensation shook up the radio airwaves for 15 years with hits such as "I'm Walkin'," "Hello Mary Lou," "Travelin' Man" and "Garden Party." Fans around the world mourned his death in a plane crash, en route to a New Year's Eve show in Dallas on Dec. 31, 1985. For more about the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, tune into PBS during the month of December (check local listings) for repeated telecasts of Ricky Nelson Sings, a new documentary commemorating the 20th anniversary of his death.