Ersel Hickey

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Ersel Hickey
Ersel Hickey.jpg
Background information
Birth nameErsel O'Hickey
Born(1934-06-27)June 27, 1934
Brighton, New York, U.S.
OriginColumbus, Ohio
DiedJuly 9, 2004(2004-07-09) (aged 70)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, musician
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1954–2004
LabelsFine, Epic, Kapp, Apollo, Laurie, Toot, Janus, Black Circle, Unifax, Rameses III, Parkway, Magnum

Ersel Hickey (born Ersel O'Hickey, June 27, 1934 – July 9, 2004) was an American rockabilly singer best known for his hit song "Bluebirds over the Mountain".

Early life[edit]

Hickey was born in Brighton, New York, and was named after the family doctor, Dr. Ersel.[1] His mother was from Kingston, Ontario; his father, who was Irish, died when Hickey was four. He was one of eight children. One brother's name was Allen and another brother's name was William. His mother had a nervous breakdown and was put into a mental hospital, causing Hickey to be placed in successive foster homes. He would frequently run away, living in different parts of New York State.

When Hickey was 15, he started traveling with his sister Chicky Evans, an exotic dancer. She was very popular in the carnival circuits and together they traveled for about a year. He decided to go on his own and travel with the carnival, then left and then began living in Columbus, Ohio. From there he was sent to a "tough kids" home, where he became familiar with the main rhythm and blues groups and started singing with the gospel group there.[citation needed]


In 1954, Hickey heard Elvis Presley's "I Don't Care if the Sun Don't Shine" and became a devoted fan of rock and roll. He played a few venues in Rochester, New York that his brother booked him in, and was successfully drawing audiences. It was around this time that he made his first record on Fine Records. One side was "Then I'll Be Happy", an old song; the other side was "Baby You're No Good", a song he had written. The single was released locally, but not much happened with it.

While visiting Rochester in 1957, Phil Everly told Hickey he should write his own material. That night Hickey wrote "Bluebirds Over the Mountain", which he subsequently recorded and charted at No. 75 in the United States. The song was later recorded by Ritchie Valens in 1958 and was a top 100 hit for The Beach Boys in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1968.

Hickey also wrote songs for other artists, including "The Millionaire" for Jackie Wilson, "A Little Bird Told Me So" for LaVern Baker, and "Don't Let the Rain Come Down", which was a US top ten hit for the Serendipity Singers.

Hickey's contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

In 1957, Hickey was staying with his aunt in Buffalo, New York when he arranged to have publicity pictures taken at a local photography studio, Gene Laverne's Studio of the Stars. The pose—Hickey with his knees bent and pointing his guitar like a machine gun—was the idea of Laverne, an exotic dancer and female impersonator. The photograph appeared in 1976 on the opening page of The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll.


Actor Ron Thompson based many of his dance moves on Hickey's, who was Thompson's mentor and friend, for his performance in the film American Pop.[2]


Hickey died at age 70 in July 2004 after surgery to remove his gallbladder at New York University Medical Center.[3]



Year Title Label
1955 Then I'll Be Happy/Baby You're No Good Fine Records
1958 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around (Cnd) Epic Records 9263
1958 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around Epic Records 9278
1958 Lover's Land"/"Goin' Down That Road Epic Records 9278
1958 "Ersel Hickey in Lover's Land"
Lover's Land/Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Goin' Down That Road/Hangin' Around
Epic Records EG 7206
1958 The Wedding/You Never Can Tell Epic Records 9296
1959 You Threw A Dart/Don't Be Afraid of Love Epic Records 9309
1959 I Can't Love Another/People Gotta Talk Epic Records 9320
1959 Love in Bloom/What Do You Want (Picture Sleeve) Epic Records 9357
1960 Stardust Brought Me You/Another Wasted Day Epic Records 9395
1961 Teardrops at Dawn/I Guess You Could Call It Love Kapp Records 372
1961 Lips of Rose/What Have You Done To Me Kapp Records 406
1962 The Millionaire/Upside Down Love Apollo Records 761
1963 Some Enchanted Evening/Put Your Mind at Ease Laurie Records 3165
1967 Blue Skies/Tryin' To Get To You Toot Records 602
1968 (Play On) Strings of Gitarro/There Is Just One Time Toot Records 607
1970 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Self Made Man Janus Records 151
1971 Oh, Lord Look What They've Done To Your Garden/Slidin' Home Black Circle Records 845
1972 How Unlucky Can You Get/Put It To Your Heart Unifax Records 100
1975 Waitin' For Baby/In Spite of the Fool That I Am Rameses II Records 2003
1982 Let Me Be Your Radio/? Parkway Records
1984 Country Tough/Country Tough Magnum Records


  • Bluebirds Over The Mountain

(KAPP KM2601) KM on the sleeve, KR on the label Going Down That Road/Love in Bloom/Wedding Day/You Threw A Dart/You Never Can Tell/Don't Be Afraid of Love/I Guess You Could Call It Love/What Do You Want//Hanging Around/Another Wasted Day/Stardust Brought Me You/Blue Birds Over The Mountain/Lover's Land/Teardrops at Dawn/Self Made Man/Blue Birds Over The Mountain

  • 1985 Back-Trac Records #18750 The Rockin' Bluebird:

Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around/You Never Can Tell/Lover's Land/Goin' Down That Road/Love in Bloom/Shame on Me/What Do You Want?/Stardust Brought Me You/Don't Be Afraid of Love

  • Bluebirds Over the Mountains

Bear Family Records – BCD 15676 Bluebirds Over The Mountain (US Version)/Hangin' Around/You Never Can Tell/The Wedding/Lover's Land/Goin' Down That Road/Love in Bloom/Another Wasted Day/You Threw A Dart/Shame on Me/What Do You Want?/Stardust Brought Me You (2)/Due Time (Incomplete)/A Mighty Square Love Affair/Teardrops at Dawn/Magical Love/I Guess You Could Call It Love/Lips of Roses/What Have You Done To Me?/Stardust Brought Me You (1)/Roll on Little River (Unknown)/Don't Be Afraid of Love/People Gotta Talk/I Can't Love Another/Bluebirds Over The Mountain (CAN Version)

  • Rockin Bluebird

Collectables Records – COL 6479 RELEASE DATE: January 16, 2001 Tracks: Bluebirds Over The Mountain, Hangin' Around, Goin' Down That Road, Lover's Land, You Never Can Tell, Wedding Day, Don't Be Afraid Of Love, You Threw A Dart, People Gotta Talk, I Can't Love Another, What Do You Want?, Love In Bloom, Stardust Brought Me You, Another Wasted Day, Shame On Me, Some Enchanted Evening, Put Your Mind At Ease, Rockabilly Dream, In Spite Of The Fool That

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Leigh, Spencer (July 15, 2004). "Ersel Hickey (obituary)". The Independent. Retrieved November 11, 2008.[dead link]
  2. ^ Maçek, J.C., III (August 1, 2012). "'American Pop'... Matters: Ron Thompson, the Illustrated Man Unsung". PopMatters.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ "Rockabilly Singer Ersel Hickey Dies". Billboard. July 13, 2004.

External links[edit]