“Rat Pack Ricky” Medlin transports audiences with his larger-than-life talent
Ricky Medlin Jr., who goes by the stage name “Rat Pack Ricky”, uses his impressive singing skills to bring joy to Burbank listeners and audiences around the world.
Medlin got his start in entertainment with a performance in his freshman talent competition. Due to her reserved nature, her parents were initially reluctant to list Medlin on the show. However, he persisted in learning about the competition and ended up joining and singing a Nickelback track, “Hero”, for his first public production. While young Medlin was introverted in his day-to-day life, the scene provided a safe place for him to express himself through song.
“For some reason… I was able to come out of my shell on stage,” Medlin recalls.
Growing up around her five older sisters, Medlin studied in local theater programs, most notably the Garry Marshall Theater in Burbank. Here, Medlin was able to perfect his craft and starred in Happy Days: the musical. He also met Garry Marshall, who would later attend his solo exhibitions and offer his support to Medlin.
“She was one of the best people I know,” Medlin said of Marshall. “He was one of the most humble [people], and I try to make an effort to achieve it to keep passing it on.
Medlin’s singing career took off significantly after entering a singing competition in his teens sponsored by the United States Air Force. Although he took vocal lessons prior to the competition, Medlin was still in the early stages of developing his prowess as a singer and had no plans to reach a top spot. Nevertheless, he emerged victorious both in the solo category of the international competition and in the duet category with his singing partner.
“I didn’t expect to win, to be honest,” Medlin said of his win. “I was just there to support friends who were in the Air Force…[My partner and I] had a rehearsal in advance, [and] we won these two [categories], which was shocking because I just didn’t think I was there vocally yet.
Following the fortuitous victory, Medlin’s father, who is a retired Burbank police officer, became his talent manager. His first concerts were booked at Fresco II, a bar and grill in Palmdale. At the time he auditioned for this position, Medlin was 17 and still new to professional singing. He had to find music equipment and a 45-minute musical act to work in the restaurant. Since playing Fresco II, Medlin’s song list has grown and he now has about six hours of music prepared for audiences.
“I was singing the same set for four hours straight until I really had to pick it up and learn new music, which really taught me a great lesson: learn as much music as possible,” recalls Medlin.
Songs on this list include “Witchcraft”, “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head” and “My Way”, to name a few. While true to its stage name, Medlin’s number focuses on songs from 1960s Rat Pack artists like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, he has an eclectic taste for music. He cites Queen, Whitesnake and Elvis as some sources of inspiration in his career. He also added variety to his song list by learning tracks like “Ashes” by Celine Dion, “Amarillo By Morning” by George Strait and Michael Jackson’s iteration of “Who’s Lovin ‘You” by Smokey Robinson.
Medlin’s father’s career included serving as a Burbank Police Detective for over a decade, and he worked in the department for a total of 28 years. Although Medlin grew up in rural Acton, where his family lived on a five-acre ranch, he says Burbank has always been a great place to visit.
“I’ve always been in and out of Burbank, so it’s like my second hometown,” Medlin said.
These positive experiences in Burbank have continued for Medlin, as he has been a leading artist at The Smoke House for the past five years. Its Rat Pack crooning pairs perfectly with the nostalgic atmosphere of the iconic restaurant, where artists like Captain & Tennille and The Drifters have performed over the steakhouse’s legendary 75-year history. He’s currently there on the second Thursday of every month, except next January, when he’s booked for a private concert at Caesars Palace. Due to rave reviews from Smoke House customers, the restaurant plans to bring Medlin back until April.
Along with Fresco II, Smoke House and Caesars Palace, Medlin has performed at renowned venues such as The Copacabana, The 94th Aero Squadron, Zelda’s Restaurant, On the Rox and The Cicada Club.
The latter location is a historic site built in 1928 that offers visitors delicious meals and swing dance music. The Cicada Club calendar frequently features the welcome by renowned artist Johnny Holiday and nephew of Bing Crosby. Holiday sings and performs an array of acts during her show, including dance numbers and guest star tours. He often includes Medlin in the show, and the two perform together at the club with a 12-piece big band supporting their pristine vocals. Medlin credits Holiday with a positive mentor who advises him on how to run the entertainment industry.
“He took me under his wing and… showed me the ropes of entertainment in a different light,” Medlin said of Holiday. “So I am very lucky to [know] him.”
Giving back is a big part of entertainment for Medlin, as many of his family served in the US Navy and his father served in the Marine Corps. Medlin initially wanted to serve in the military, but due to his health issues he was never able to do so. He now uses his talent to entertain military troops, and he never charges a fee when singing for troops or law enforcement. He also takes the time to visit schools as a guest speaker for young students. During these speeches, Medlin advocates against bullying and encourages children who have a vested interest in playing to persevere in the pursuit of their dreams.
Along with possessing mind-boggling vocal abilities and a compelling stage presence, Medlin embodies raw authenticity when he takes the stage and performs. His musical flair stems from his closeness to the material he chooses for his act, which leaves audiences feeling the emotional honesty of the words Medlin sings in front of them.
“I am still me. I’m not changing my personality at all, ”Medlin says of his character on stage. “I try to stay as organic as possible, just bigger and stronger, and [I] try to express more. But you know, singing is just playing… if I don’t feel any connection with it, I don’t sing it.
The natural charisma that Medlin embodies in front of the crowd has led to a loyal international fan base. After his in-person performances, viewers often approach Medlin and ask him questions about his craft, and others who live in foreign countries message him from a distance to express their attachment to his work. Medlin does not call these people followers or fans, but rather sees them as friends who share memories with him as he progresses in his professional journey.
“I think everyone is a part of my journey and I feel very humbled that so many people message me, that they feel connected to me and I feel connected to them,” Medlin said. “I feel like it’s an extension of the family, [but] for music.
As part of his acting repertoire, Medlin is able to pull off compelling knock-offs and would one day like to venture into dubbing while maintaining his singing career. He plans to continue performing and educating younger generations about his favorite artists from the past who have also performed in venues with big band music. Additionally, Medlin will remain focused on uplifting the audience as much as possible, as he uses his talent for a purpose greater than himself.
“I always pray before I go on stage that if I can make a person happy or change a life while I’m going on stage, I’m doing my job,” Medlin said. “I’m going to keep doing that and just allow people to come in and be distracted.” Whether they are going through stress in their life, whether they are lost or whatever … I want to bring joy into their life. That’s my goal at the end of every show.
To learn more about Ricky Medlin Jr., visit his website here