Johnny Lee | Photo credit: allmusic.com

Prior to his 1980 smash hit, Lookin’ for Love,” Johnny Lee had a remarkable song called “Country Party” in 1977. His record was a modified version of the former teen idol Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party.” While this cover single did not reach the same success as the soundtrack to the Urban Cowboy film, “Country Party” still managed to crack the chart’s Top 20. Peaking at No. 15 on the country chart, the song was the singer’s most successful single in the late ‘70s. Prior to recording his version, Lee had the lyrics to the original cut slightly altered including the title. From “Garden Party,” it was made into “Country Party” to suit the modified wordings.

The Origin of Country Party

“Garden Party” was among the few songs that Rick Nelson penned and it was very important to him. The tune was based on his experience during a concert at Madison Square Garden, New York City on October 15, 1971. At the concert, Nelson got booed after performing a country-rock cover of “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones. That was really a rough evening for Nelson. However, the awkward encounter taught him a valuable lesson. He came out of it stronger and determined not to be a nostalgia act.

Nelson was able to turn his brightest shining moment from what could have remained the darkest day of his life. “Garden Party” became Nelson’s first Top 10 hit in the US. The song emphasizes that doing what feels right to you is the most important thing. As Nelson sings,

But it’s alright now, I’ve learned by lesson well

You see, you can’t please everyone
So you’ve got to please yourself

Here is Lee’s version of “Country Party.”

Other Covers

Aside from Johnny Lee, various artists have performed and covered Nelson’s major hit. Country legend, Dwight Yoakam, even performed the song live in a concert. Artist and TV personality, Tarsha Vega, the UK band, Smokie, and John Fogerty were among the celebrities who recorded their respective versions of the song.

Below is Rick Nelson singing the original version, “Garden Party,” from which “Country Party” was derived.

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