Do you remember Ricky Van Shelton? The country music star scored big hits with "I'll Leave This World Loving You," "Keep it Between the Lines," "Hole in my Pocket," "I Meant Every Word He Said," "Wild Man," "Statue of a Fool" and his Dolly Parton duet "Rockin' Years." Over the course of his 20-year career, Shelton had 10 No. 1 hits and was among the ranks of timeless country singers like Conway Twitty, George Strait, Randy Travis and Garth Brooks.
Shelton released his debut album Wild-Eyed Dream in 1987. The album, which spawned the hits "Crime of Passion," "Life Turned Her That Way," "Somebody Lied" and more, hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums chart. He followed up the album's success with his sophomore release Loving Proof, which featured "From a Jack to a King," "Don't We All Have the Right" and a the Hank Cochran-penned "He Got You," which was originally recorded by Patsy Cline as "She's Got You."
Shelton would go on to release RVS III in 1990, Backroads in 1991, Greatest Hits Plus and gospel album Don't Overlook Salvation in 1992 and Making Plans in 1998.
In May 2006, Shelton announced that he was retiring from country music to spend time with his family and his wife Bettye. The "I Am a Simple Man" singer had made enough money and decided to finally kick off his boots. Born in Danville, Virginia and raised in Grit, Virginia, Shelton didn't need fame to be happy.
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And Shelton wasn't just a country singer. When he wasn't crooning country songs, he wrote a hit series of children's books too. Tales From a Duck Named Quacker and Quacker Meets Mrs. Moo were both successes in their own right.
But Shelton had had enough. He was more interested in backroads than red carpets. The "Life's Little Ups and Downs" singer is living proof that fame and fortune aren't what make people happy. He released his last album, Fried Green Tomatoes, in 2000. After doing some touring, he decided to leave the industry behind.
These days, according to his website, "Ricky spends time flying his airplane, working on his 150-acre farm, gardening, repairing his collection of classic cars and antiquing."
From his debut album all the way to his last performance, Ricky gave us everything he had and he left behind decades of country classics for us to enjoy.
This article was originally published in September 2019.