He was born Ersel O'Hickey, named after the family doctor, Dr. Ersel. His mother was from Kingston, Ontario; his father, who was Irish, died when Hickey was four. He was one of eight children. His mother had a nervous breakdown and was put into a mental hospital, while he was put into 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.
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 was playing a few places in Rochester, New York that his brother booked him in; he was drawing very well. 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 #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.
Ersel Hickey's contribution to the genre has been recognized by the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
According to his publicist, Hickey died after surgery to remove his bladder in July 2004 at New York Medical Center. He was 70 years old.
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1955 FINE RECORDS Then I'll Be Happy/Baby You're No Good
1958 EPIC RECORDS 2203 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around (Cnd) 9263 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Hangin' Around 9278 Lover's Land/Goin' Down That Road EG 7206 "Ersel Hickey In Lover's Land" Lover's Land/Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Goin' Down That Road/Hangin' Around 9296 The Wedding/You Never Can Tell
1959 9309 You Threw A Dart/Don't Be Afraid Of Love 9320 I Can't Love Another/People Gotta Talk 9357 Love In Bloom/What Do You Want (Picture Sleeve)
1960 9395 Stardust Brought Me You/Another Wasted Day
1961 KAPP RECORDS 372 Teardrops At Dawn/I Guess You Could Call It Love 406 Lips Of Rose/What Have You Done To Me
1962 APOLLO RECORDS 761 The Millionaire/Upside Down Love
1963 LAURIE RECORDS 3165 Some Enchanted Evening/Put Your Mind At Ease
1967 TOOT RECORDS 602 Blue Skies/Tryin' To Get To You
1968 607 (Play On) Strings Of Gitarro/There Is Just One Time
1970 JANUS RECORDS 151 Bluebirds Over The Mountain/Self Made Man
1971 BLACK CIRCLE RECORDS 845 Oh, Lord Look What They've Done To Your Garden/Slidin' Home
1972 UNIFAX RECORDS 100 How Unlucky Can You Get/Put It To Your Heart
1975 RAMESES III RECORDS 2003 Waitin' For Baby/In Spite Of The Fool That I Am
1982 PARKWAY RECORDS Let Me Be Your Radio/?
1984 MAGNUM RECORDS Country Tough/?
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: 01/16/2001 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
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