|Ricky was born in Danville, Virginia to Jenks and Eloise
Shelton. He was brought up in a small community called Grit, where his family still
lives today. Ronnie and Don Shelton are his brothers, and his sisters are Judy Underwood
and Cacky Guill. Ricky is the youngest sibling.
Ricky with his Mom and Dad,
Eloise and Jenks Shelton
As a young boy, he loved being outdoors, and would camp out in the
neighborhood woods during the summer with his friends; all they needed was a blanket. They
used to explore the area and hiked for miles each day -- his youth was filled with fun,
innocence and daily adventures.
During his school days, Ricky's favorite classes were
art and chorus. He loved to paint and draw pictures and was able to earn his spending
money by selling one oil painting a week to local customers.
Besides drawing, Ricky spent a great deal of his time
singing; whether he was in church, at fish fries, or in his bedroom -- singing was Ricky's
life. He fell in love with country music when he was fourteen years old and
discovered a style that combined gospel, rock n' roll and soul music. He has been hooked
on country ever since.
After high school, he continued to perform
wherever possible, accepting local bookings at lodges, clubs, and private parties. For
years, he worked a regular day job, rehearsed in the evenings and performed on
week-ends. His past jobs have included car salesman, house painter, plumber, appliance
store manager and construction worker. He pumped gas at Jack Dawson's service station and
even cut up chickens in the meat department of a local grocery store. Whenever a
particular "day" job interfered with his "music", he quit and found
He started dating Bettye Witt in 1979; and in December 26, 1984, the two of them moved to
Nashville Tennessee, to try their luck in the music business. Bettye had accepted a
position as Personnel Manager with a new company; and Ricky spent his days cleaning house,
writing songs and preparing his voice to be ready for his "big break". At night,
Ricky visited local night clubs, making contacts in the industry and handing out homemade
demos to whomever would listen.
Ricky's drawing of Bettye as a young girl
Bettye and Ricky were married August 4,
1986, the same year Ricky signed with CBS Records. They have built a log house outside of
Nashville and raise a small herd of Beefalo cattle. Ricky has also written and published a
series of children's books, called "Tales From a Duck Named
Today, when he's not touring, Ricky spends
time flying his airplane, working on his 150-acre farm, gardening, repairing his
collection of classic cars and antiquing.