As most of us know, a cover version of a song is one that features a new or different performer following in the footsteps of someone who had earlier success with that particular piece. Sometimes a few changes are required, as was the case when Ricky Nelson followed Little Peggy March, turning her signature song, 1963’s “I Will Follow Him,” into “I Will Follow You.” (Whew, hope you didn’t get lost amidst all those ‘follows’.)
Little Peggy March, who was born as Margaret Annemarie Battavio in a Philadelphia suburb, did live up to the nickname given to her by record producers when she started her career. Just 13 years old and 3 inches short of five feet, she nevertheless had a big enough voice to make it into the recording studio for her debut on the aptly-titled “Little Me.”
Although her first record would be mostly forgotten, the following year she recorded a song that would rocket to the top of the charts and become her breakout hit, “I Will Follow Him.” The song had earlier been a European hit — in it’s original French — for British singer Petula Clark, but it was Little Peggy’s version that took the U.S. market by storm.
Of course, Ricky Nelson was a huge star in his own right at that time, with a string of best-sellers already under his belt, but — like most performers then and now — he often did his own version of other artists’ big songs. But even though he sang “I Will Follow You” on the Ozzie & Harriet TV show (video below) the song doesn’t seem to show up on discographies of his singles from those days.
As for Little Peggy March, she continued to generate good-selling records like “Hello Heartache, Goodbye Love” and many others, but did not crack the Top Ten on U.S. charts again. However, she found much more success in Europe after moving there a few years later, and even though she eventually returned to the U.S. to live, she is still fondly remembered by many European fans.