The Song and Its Origin
A tune originally recorded in 1961, “I Will Follow Him” was first rendered by Franck Pourcel. Initially, it was an instrumental titled “Chariot.” However, it gained its widest success and popularity through the recording of Little Peggy March in 1963.
The original “I Will Follow Him” instrumental was written by French composers Franck Pourcel and Paul Mauriat. It was then adapted by Arthur Altman and were given English lyrics by Norman Gimbel.
Moreover, the song became a popular song in the ‘60s gaining different renditions. Also, it entered quite a number of different charts around the globe. From the United States to as far as the Philippines, and from Europe to Oceania. That is how big the song was in the mid-1960s.
With all the different versions, Little Peggy March’s was still incomparable as it paved the way to the song’s success. Her version went on to chart at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963. She was just 15 years old when she recorded the song. Thus, she was the youngest female artist to have a U.S. chart-topping single.
Here is Little Peggy’s version of the song:
Ricky Nelson: A ‘50s Teen Idol
One of the biggest idols in the ‘50s was the dashing crooner Ricky Nelson. During his era, there were many budding and talented artists that he has to compete the spotlight with. Gaining more of his popularity in pop/rock recordings, he managed to get more promotional push than any other rock musicians in the ‘50s. However, he wasn’t the greatest singer. Elvis Presley, Gene Vincent, Carl Perkins, and many others are even better than him. But, Nelson was extraordinarily consistent during the first five years of his recording career.
Moreover, Nelson focused on crafting pleasant pop-rockabilly hybrids which made him distinct from the other rock and roll artists. Also, he played a somewhat underestimated role in rock & roll’s absorption into mainstream America — how bad could rock be if it was featured on one of America’s favorite family situation comedies on a weekly basis?
By the early ’50s, the series was on television, and Ricky grew into a teenager in public. He was just the right age to have his life turned around by rock& roll in 1956. Furthermore, he started his recording career the following year recording a cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin'” that went to no. 4.
Nelson’s Version of “I Will Follow Him”
As mentioned earlier, “I Will Follow Him” became a massively popular single in the ‘60s. Well, thanks to the 15-year-old Little Peggy March. It was then rendered by different artists from different genres. One of them was Ricky Nelson. This time, the word “him” was changed to “you.”
True enough, the tune complemented Nelson’s vocals. The naivety and innocence of his voice is just as charming as he looked like. Released in 1963, his version became a part of his album For Your Sweet Love.