In 1988, Ricky Van Shelton’s “I’ll Leave This World Loving You” became the country singer’s fourth consecutive No. 1 hit as it snagged the top spot of Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Not only that, but the song was also Shelton’s first multi-week No. 1.
The country ballad was released as the lead-off single from Shelton’s album Loving Proof. But did you know he’s not the first one to record it? Written by Wayne Kemp and Mack Vickery, Kemp recorded the country ballad as early as 1974 and even cut it once again six years later.
Unfortunately, Kemp’s version did not become a hit, only reaching No. 47 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart. Nevertheless, it became a very significant element in Kemp’s writing career.
After many years, “I’ll Leave This World Loving You” caught the attention of Steve Buckingham – Columbia’s record producer. Buckingham was in the midst of stowing away songs that he especially liked, hoping that he would one day find the right singer for the label that would be perfect for his hidden gems.
Finally, in 1987, that perfect singer appeared right before his eyes in the form of Ricky Van Shelton.
Shelton’s debut project with Columbia, “Wild-Eyed Dream,” was a big success – generating three chart-topping hits! These songs have been meticulously selected from Buckingham’s stash of previously recorded tunes. For instance, Shelton’s first No. 1 track, “Somebody Lied,” was penned by Conway Twitty’s nephew Larry Jenkins and was first recorded by Twitty for his 1985 studio album “Don’t Call Him A Cowboy.” His second hit, “Life Turned Her That Way,” was also a minor hit for Mel Tillis in 1967.
Now, Buckingham and Shelton were geared up to work on the country singer’s second album, and they have ultimately chosen “I’ll Leave This World Loving You” as one of Ricky Van Shelton’s songs.
You can listen to Ricky Van Shelton’s “I’ll Leave This World Loving You” in the video below.
Ricky Van Shelton