Steve Nelson

Induction Year: 1973

Birth Name: Steve Edward Nelson

Birth Date: 11-24-1907

Place of Birth: New York, New York

Death Date: 11-01-1981

Place of Death: Armonk, New York

Steve Nelson was born in New York City in 1907. He is chiefly known as a composer of children's and holiday songs, as well as a string of giant hits for Eddy Arnold. His chief collaborators were songwriters Johnny Burke, Bob Hilliard, Jack Rollins, Benny Davis and Charlie Tobias.

He is the son of Tin Pan Alley pop songwriter Ed G. Nelson and the older brother of his sometime song collaborator Ed Nelson Jr. Steve earned a degree at New York University. He joined ASCAP in 1945. Originally a pop songwriter, he learned to craft songs for the country market working for Jean and Julian Aberbach at the Hill & Range music-publishing company in New York.

Nelson created one of his biggest hits, "Bouquet of Roses," in 1948 in collaboration with Bob Hilliard. "I had what I believed to be a very beautiful melody running around in my head," Nelson recalled to country music historian Dorothy Horstman. "One day I met Bob Hilliard at the recording studio, and I sang it to him. He agreed that it was a ‘sweet' tune, and as the word ‘sweet' implied something romantic and flowery, we pursued that direction and finally came up with the title ‘Bouquet of Roses,' and then started to collaborate on the lyrics. The song was finished the following day."

"Bouquet of Roses" became a million-selling hit record for Eddy Arnold, remaining at #1 on the country charts for 19 weeks in 1948. It was a pop success as well. It has been revived by numerous recording artists — pop and country alike — since then.

Two years later, Nelson created two holiday standards with co-writer Jack Rollins: "Peter Cottontail" and "Frosty the Snowman." The former started out with the provisional title "Reginald the Rabbit," but Nelson and Rollins quickly hit upon "Peter Cottontail" as a better idea and scored a huge Easter hit through Gene Autry, who recorded it in March 1950 and quickly launched it up the pop and country charts.

"Frosty the Snowman," recorded by Autry just three months later, became a million-selling single and an instant holiday classic. It has since been recorded by more than 1,000 artists. "Frosty" also inspired a 1960 children's book and a 1969 animated TV special plus its three sequels.

Steve Nelson was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame along with his brother Ed Nelson Jr. in 1973.

"A Heart Full of Love (For a Handful of Kisses)"

(written with Eddy Arnold, Ray Soehnel)

Eddy Arnold1948 #1 country

"A Prison Without Any Walls"

(written with Jack Rollins)

Eddy Arnold1950 #10 country

"Bouquet of Roses"

(written with Bob Hilliard)

Eddy Arnold1948 #1 country, #13 pop
Dick Haymes1949 #22 pop
Marty Robbins1957 
Margaret Whiting1958 
Faron Young1959 
Ernest Tubb1961 
Bill Haley1960 
Dean Martin1963 
Clint Eastwood1963 
Al Martino1963 
Slim Whitman1963 
Hank Locklin1965 
George Morgan1965 
Vic Damone1965 
Carl Smith1966 
Jimmy C. Newman1966 
Bobby Vinton1967 
Billy Walker1968 
Mickey Gilley1975 #11 country
Bobby Womack1976 
Leon Redbone1994 

"Christmas Cannonball"

(written with Jack Rollins)

Hank Snow1967 

"Frosty the Snowman"

(written with Jack Rollins)

Note: "Frosty the Snowman" has more than 1,000 recorded versions.

Gene Autry1950 #4 country, #7 pop
Guy Lombardo1951 #28 pop
Perry Como1957 #74 pop
The Ronettes1963 

"Hang Your Head in Shame"

(written with Fred Rose, Ed G. Nelson)

Bob Wills1945 #3 country
Red Foley1945 #4 country
Ernest Tubb1945 
Ferlin Husky1956 
Hank Thompson1957 
Sons of the Pioneers1957 
Carl Smith1958 
Justin Tubb1958 
Ray Price1962 
Gene Autry1961 
Ray Charles1962 
Jimmy Dean1963 
Doc Watson1975 
Vassar Clements1975 
Buddy Spicher2004 

"I Wish I Had a Girl Like You, Mother"

(written with Eddy Arnold, Ed Nelson Jr.)

Eddy Arnold1949 

"I'm Throwing Rice (At the Girl I Love)"

(written with Eddy Arnold, Ed Nelson Jr.)

Eddy Arnold1949 #1 country, #18 Pop
Red Foley1949 #11 country

"One Kiss Too Many"

(written with Eddy Arnold, Ed Nelson Jr.)

Eddy Arnold1949 #1 country, #23 pop

"Paving the Highway with Tears"

(written with Ed Nelson Jr.)

Hank Snow1950 

"Peter Cottontail"

(written with Jack Rollins)

Gene Autry1950 #3 country, #5 pop
Merv Shiner1950 #6 country
Bob Crosby Bobcats1950 
Jimmy Wakely1950 #7 country
Johnnie Lee Wills1950 #7 country
Rosemary Clooney1950 
Fran Allison1950 #26 pop
Roy Rogers1962 

"Say It With Your Heart"

(written with Norman Kaye)

Bob Carroll1953 #14 pop

"Send Ten Pretty Flowers (To My Girl in Tennessee)"

(written with Ed Nelson Jr.)

Spade Cooley1949 

"Show Me the Way Back to Your Heart"

(written with Eddy Arnold, Ed Nelson Jr.)

Eddy Arnold1949 #7 country

"Smokey the Bear"

(written with Jack Rollins)

Gene Autry1952 

"Two Kinds of Love"

(written with Ed Nelson, Eddie Thorpe)

Eddy Arnold1955 #9 country

"Will Santy Come to Shanty Town?"

(written with Eddy Arnold, Ed Nelson Jr.)

Eddy Arnold1949 #5 country

"With This Ring, I Thee Wed"

(written with Jack Rollins, Ed Nelson Jr.)

Hank Snow1950 

"You Only Want Me When You're Lonely"

Gene Autry1946 #7 country

"You're Only in My Arms (To Cry on My Shoulder)"

(written with Milton Leeds, Ed Nelson)

Rambling Rogue1944 
Bob Wills1946 
Willie Nelson1986 

Steve Nelson

Induction Year: 1973