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February 14

Ricky Van Shelton: What Happened to One Of The Hottest Stars in the 1980s?

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Do you still remember Ricky Van Shelton? He was one of country music’s biggest stars in the late 1980s – especially to the female fans. According to a 1989 article published by People magazine, “women were thoughtful enough to pin their names and phone numbers inside their bras before tossing them onstage.”

The country superstar asserted it is not his sex appeal but instead the passion and authenticity of his singing that thrills the faithful. The moment he gets to hold a microphone, Ricky Van Shelton said, “I just start cryin’ out loud.”

And he absolutely did! Crying nothing but a river of great fortune. 

Struggling for years to establish himself in Nashville, Shelton never lost faith in his talent. He actually started pursuing a career in country music in his teens, but it was only during his late 30s – after years of anonymity – when his lucky break came.

When he released his debut album, Wild-Eyed Dream, in 1987, it sold over a million copies – which is out of the ordinary for a country record to achieve at that time – launching Shelton into instant stardom.

Shelton followed that achievement with hits after hits like “I’ll Leave This World Loving You,” “I Meant Every Word He Said,” “Wild Man,” and his beloved duet with Dolly Parton, “Rockin’ Years.”  Throughout his two-decade career, Shelton also won various accolades, including 1989 Male Vocalist of the Year. 

He got his last Top Ten hit in 1992.

Young Ricky Van Shelton

Read More: 10 Of The Biggest and Best Ricky Van Shelton Songs Of All Time

So, what happened to the legendary Ricky Van Shelton?

In a letter dated May 3, 2006, Ricky Van Shelton announced he would be retiring from country music after sixteen albums and twelve No. 1 singles. The singer has “asked to be released from the performance obligations that have been made for the rest of this year” to spend time with his family.


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