Poor Little Fool

Album: Greatest Hits (1958)
Charted: 4 1
  • songfacts ®
  • Artistfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • "Poor Little Fool" was written by 17-year-old Sharon Sheeley when she was still attending high school in Newport Beach, California. Female songwriters were rare at the time, and when the song climbed to #1 in the US, she became the first woman to compose an American chart-topper on her own.

    Sheeley later co-wrote "Somethin' Else" with Eddie Cochran. When Cochran was killed in a car accident, Sheeley, who was by then his girlfriend, was also involved in the accident but survived, despite getting badly injured. She also collaborated with Jackie DeShannon on hits for artists like Brenda Lee ("Dum Dum" and "Heart In Hand") and Irma Thomas ("Breakaway," which years later became a big hit for Tracey Ullman). Sheeley and DeShannon were the first female writing team to have significant success in the pop realm. She died in 2002 at the age of 62 of complications following a cerebral hemorrhage.
  • This song is about a guy who falls for a girl who breaks his heart, reneging on her promise to always be together. The song's writer Sharon Sheeley drew inspiration from an affair she was having with Don Everly of the Everly Brothers, who was married at the time. It was Everly who introduced her to Eddie Cochran.
  • When Billboard magazine printed the first Hot 100 singles chart in August 1958, this was their first #1 hit.
  • Ricky Nelson was a year into his singing career when this song became his first #1 hit. He was second only to Elvis among American male solo artists around this time in terms of popularity.
  • Nelson didn't hear hit potential in this song, but his father, the popular bandleader Ozzie Nelson, did. Ozzie convinced Ricky's label, Imperial Records, to issue it as a single, but Ricky refused to approve a photo for the cover and wouldn't perform it on the family TV show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Ozzie's instincts were correct.
  • This was the first Ricky Nelson single to feature The Jordanaires, who were Elvis Presley's backing singers. They were not credited because of their association with Elvis.
Please sign in or register to post comments.

Comments: 6

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaStill my very fav Nelson tune, glad he decided to get some one to finish it and recorded it.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 30th 1958, Ricky Nelson gave the first of six sold-out performances, over a three day period, at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey...
    One month earlier on July 30th, 1958 his "Poor Little Fool" peaked at #1 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart...
    Between 1957 and 1973 he had fifty-three songs make the Top 100; seventeen made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, his second #1 was "Travelin' Man" for two weeks in 1961...
    He just missed having four #1s when "Teenager's Romance" {1957} and "Stood Up" {1958} both peaked at #2 on the Top 100...
    R.I.P. Fredrick Hilliard Nelson {1940 - 1985}.
  • Terry from Ojai, CaRick never liked the song and he never sang it on the Ozzie & Harriet show. He didn't start singing the song live until the late 70's when he started singing more of his early hits. He was also against having it released as a single but Lou Chud insisted and then it went on to become his first #1 hit.
  • Coy from Palestine, TxAccording to James Kirkland, Rick Nelson's bass player--Sheeley didn't quite write the song "without any help from a male partner". James said Sheeley "cried big crocodile tears" because Rick told her "I can't use this song". The song was real fast and the tune resembled "Good Rocking Tonight". Finally, to get Sheeley to stop crying, Rick said "Let me see what I can do". Nelson then tossed the song to James Burton and Kirkland and said "see what you can do with this". Burton and Kirkland changed the tune and Nelson, who still didn't really like the song, recorded it as a "B" side. When Sheeley heard it, she threatened to sue, till it hit number one. She wrote the song about Don Everly, who she was dating after he broke up with her. She later dated Cochran, who was killed in the car wreck. Finally she married the guy who started Shindig and they both ran the show for five years.
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, TnThis big #l hit for Ricky Nelson was a bit before my time so I missed its chart-run. I got to know it from one of his later "greatest hits" compilations & learned to love it ever since. Some of my cousins had a real serious crush on him during the high school years in the early Sixties. And one of them was male!! Haa! Oh well, that's how it goes some times. Love the guitar on this hit & the male background singers. Weren't they rumoured to be Elvis's background singers? How did that happen?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyRicky Nelson released four records were both sides made the Top 10: 'Lonesome Town {#7} b/w 'I Got A Feeling' {#10}, 'Never Be Anyone Else But You' {#6) b/w 'It's Late' {#9}, 'Just A Little Too Much' {#9} b/w 'Sweeter Than You' {#9}, and 'Traveling Man' {#1} b/w 'Hello Mary Lou' {#9}!!! (Only Elvis & The Beatles have more; each has five records were both sides made the Top 10}
see more comments

Ian Astbury of The CultSongwriter Interviews

The Cult frontman tells who the "Fire Woman" is, and talks about performing with the new version of The Doors.

Director Nick Morris ("The Final Countdown")Song Writing

Nick made some of the biggest videos on MTV, including "The Final Countdown," "Heaven" and "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)."

Yoko OnoSongwriter Interviews

At 80 years old, Yoko has 10 #1 Dance hits. She discusses some of her songs and explains what inspired John Lennon's return to music in 1980.

Dino Cazares of Fear FactorySongwriter Interviews

The guitarist/songwriter explains how he came up with his signature sound, and deconstructs some classic Fear Factory songs.

Eric ClaptonFact or Fiction

Did Eric Clapton really write "Cocaine" while on cocaine? This question and more in the Clapton edition of Fact or Fiction.

Women Who RockSong Writing

Evelyn McDonnell, editor of the book Women Who Rock, on why the Supremes are just as important as Bob Dylan.