Ricky Van Shelton is a country music legend whose career spanned over three decades and produced numerous hits. Born in Danville, Virginia in 1952, Shelton grew up listening to a variety of genres including gospel, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll. His love for music led him to pursue a career in the industry, and he quickly became one of the most successful country singers of his time.
Shelton’s unique voice and style set him apart from other country singers, and his success helped to shape the genre in the 1980s and 1990s. With 12 number one hits, four platinum albums, and countless awards, Shelton’s impact on the country music scene is undeniable.
In this article, we will explore his early life, musical influences, breakthrough hits, collaborations, personal life, and legacy, as well as his extensive discography.
- Ricky Van Shelton had a career spanning over three decades, with 12 number one hits, four platinum albums, and numerous awards.
- His unique voice and style set him apart from other country singers, and he collaborated with established songwriters and producers.
- Family was always a top priority for Ricky Van Shelton, and he emphasized family values in his music and personal life.
- His influence on country music can be seen in the careers of many contemporary artists, and his traditional country sound is often compared to that of George Jones and Merle Haggard.
Early Life and Musical Influences
During his formative years, Ricky Van Shelton was exposed to a variety of musical genres, including gospel, country, and R&B, which would later influence his unique style and sound.
Born in Danville, Virginia, in 1952, Shelton grew up in a musical family. His father was a guitar player and singer who performed at local venues, while his mother sang in the church choir. Shelton himself started singing in church at the age of three, and by the time he was a teenager, he had developed a love for music that would stay with him for the rest of his life.
Shelton’s early musical influences were diverse and eclectic. His father introduced him to the classic country sounds of Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell, while his mother exposed him to the gospel music of Mahalia Jackson and the soulful R&B of Ray Charles.
As a result, Shelton’s musical style blended traditional country with elements of gospel and soul, creating a unique sound that set him apart from other artists in the genre.
Finding Success in Nashville
Achieving success in the highly competitive Nashville music industry requires a combination of talent, persistence, and strategic networking. Ricky Van Shelton’s breakthrough moment came when he signed a recording contract with Columbia Records in 1986. He quickly became a country music sensation, releasing a string of chart-topping hits and earning numerous awards and accolades.
To understand how Van Shelton found success in Nashville, it is important to consider the following factors:
- Van Shelton’s unique blend of traditional country and honky-tonk music appealed to a broad audience.
- His distinctive voice, often compared to that of George Jones, set him apart from other artists of the time.
- Van Shelton’s hard work and dedication to his craft helped him build a loyal fanbase and establish himself as a respected musician.
- By collaborating with established songwriters and producers, he was able to create hit songs and albums that resonated with listeners.
- Finally, Van Shelton’s savvy marketing and branding strategies helped him maintain his popularity and relevance in the ever-changing music industry.
One key aspect of Ricky Van Shelton’s career was his ability to produce breakthrough hits that resonated with audiences and helped establish his reputation as a successful country musician.
Van Shelton’s debut album, ‘Wild-Eyed Dream,’released in 1987, included two chart-topping singles, ‘Crime of Passion’and ‘Somebody Lied.’The latter became his first number-one hit and earned him the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Male Vocalist award in 1988.
Van Shelton continued his success in the following years with his second album, ‘Loving Proof,’which produced four top-ten hits, including ‘I’ll Leave This World Loving You,’which reached number one on the country charts.
He also had hits with cover songs such as ‘From a Jack to a King’and ‘Statue of a Fool,’which helped him gain a wider audience.
Van Shelton’s ability to connect with his audience and deliver powerful performances made him a force to be reckoned with in the country music industry.
Winning multiple awards and critical acclaim, Ricky Van Shelton’s albums, including ‘RVS III’ and ‘Backroads,’ solidified his reputation as a talented artist with a unique sound.
The album ‘RVS III’ released in 1990, won the Country Music Association Award for Album of the Year and received a platinum certification. It featured hit songs like ‘I am a Simple Man,”Statue of a Fool,’and ‘I’ll Leave This World Loving You.’The album showcased Van Shelton’s ability to blend classic country with modern sounds, creating a fresh sound that appealed to a wide audience.
In 1991, Van Shelton’s album ‘Backroads’ was released, which also received critical acclaim. The album featured songs like ‘Rockin’ Years,’a duet with Dolly Parton, and ‘Backroads,’which became a fan favorite. The album was certified gold and won the Academy of Country Music Award for Album of the Year.
With his unique style and powerful voice, Van Shelton continued to produce award-winning albums throughout his career, cementing his place in country music history.
Collaborations and Duets
Collaborations and duets were an integral part of Ricky Van Shelton’s career, with his unique voice blending seamlessly with other country music stars like Dolly Parton, George Jones, and Brenda Lee.
Some of his most well-known collaborations include the hit song ‘Rockin’ Years’with Dolly Parton, which reached number one on the country charts in 1991. He also collaborated with George Jones on the song ‘I’ll Leave This World Loving You,’which was a number one hit in 1988. Additionally, he recorded a duet with Brenda Lee titled ‘As Long as There’s a Heartbeat,’which was featured on his album ‘Love and Honor.’
In 1993, Ricky Van Shelton recorded a duet with his wife, Bettye Witt, titled ‘Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This,’which was included on his album ‘A Bridge I Didn’t Burn.’The couple’s chemistry on the song was palpable, and their voices blended together perfectly.
Throughout his career, Ricky Van Shelton demonstrated his ability to collaborate and create beautiful music with other artists. His unique voice and musical style made him a sought-after partner for many other country music stars, and his collaborations continue to be cherished by fans today.
Touring and Live Performances
Touring was a significant aspect of Ricky Van Shelton’s career, as he embarked on numerous live performances across the country, including opening for country music legends like Conway Twitty and George Jones. He gained a reputation for his engaging stage presence, and his shows were known for their high energy and emotional performances.
Shelton’s concerts were often sold out, and he performed in large arenas and smaller intimate venues alike. He was also known for his willingness to connect with his fans, often spending time signing autographs and taking pictures after his shows.
In addition to his solo tours, Shelton also participated in several music festivals and benefit concerts. He was a regular performer at the Grand Ole Opry, and he also toured with the country music supergroup The Highwaymen, which included Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Waylon Jennings.
Shelton’s live performances were a testament to his talent as a singer and performer, and they played a key role in establishing him as one of the most popular country music artists of the 1980s and 1990s.
Acting Career and Other Ventures
Apart from his music career, Ricky Van Shelton also ventured into acting, making his debut in the 1990 film ‘Windfall.’ He went on to make a few more appearances in films and television shows throughout the 1990s, including ‘Maverick Square’ and ‘The Mambo Kings.’ However, despite his initial success, Shelton’s acting career failed to take off, and he eventually returned his focus to music.
In addition to his music and acting careers, Shelton has also pursued other ventures. He has written a cookbook, titled ‘Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Ricky Van Shelton,’ which features recipes from his family and personal favorites.
He also became a licensed pilot in the early 1990s and has been known to fly himself to his live performances. Additionally, Shelton has been involved in various charity efforts, including participating in benefit concerts for organizations such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Personal Life and Family
When it comes to the personal life of this country music star, Ricky Van Shelton has been married to Bettye Witt, his high school sweetheart, since 1986, and the couple has three children together. Despite being a public figure, Shelton has managed to keep his personal life away from the media’s prying eyes. He has always been a private person and prefers to keep his family life out of the spotlight.
Family has always been a top priority for Ricky Van Shelton, and he has been known to cancel shows or tours in order to spend time with his wife and children. Shelton’s music often touches upon the themes of love, family, and relationships, which reflects his strong emphasis on family values.
Overall, Shelton’s personal life has been one of privacy and devotion to his family, which is a refreshing change in the world of fame and fortune.
Legacy and Influence on Country Music
Ricky Van Shelton’s legacy and influence on country music is undeniable, as he has left a lasting impact on the genre through his unique sound and heartfelt lyrics.
Shelton’s traditional country sound, often compared to that of George Jones and Merle Haggard, resonated with audiences during the 1980s and 1990s. He had a string of chart-topping hits, including ‘Somebody Lied’and ‘I’ll Leave This World Loving You,’and won numerous awards, including the CMA Horizon Award in 1987.
Shelton’s influence on country music can be seen in the careers of many contemporary artists. He paved the way for the neo-traditionalist movement in country music, which saw a return to more traditional country sounds and themes. Artists such as Alan Jackson, George Strait, and Vince Gill have all cited Shelton as an influence on their music.
Shelton’s legacy continues to live on through his timeless music, which remains popular with country music fans today.
Ricky Van Shelton’s Discography
One notable aspect of the career of Ricky Van Shelton is his extensive discography, which spans over a decade and includes numerous chart-topping hits.
He released his debut album, ‘Wild-Eyed Dream,’in 1987, which produced four number one singles and was certified platinum.
His subsequent albums, including ‘Loving Proof’and ‘RVS III,’also achieved commercial success and cemented his status as a prominent figure in country music.
Throughout his career, Ricky Van Shelton showcased his versatility as an artist by incorporating various styles and genres into his music, including traditional country, honky-tonk, and rockabilly.
He collaborated with other notable musicians in the industry, such as George Jones and Dolly Parton, and also recorded covers of classic country songs.
His discography remains a testament to his talent and impact on country music, and continues to inspire new generations of artists in the genre.