Ricky Medlin Jr., who goes by the stage name “Rat Pack Ricky,” is utilizing his awe-inspiring singing abilities to bring joy to listeners in Burbank and audiences everywhere.
Medlin got his start in entertainment with a performance in his first grade talent contest. Due to his reserved nature, his parents were initially hesitant to sign Medlin up for the show. He was persistent in inquiring about the competition, however, and ended up joining and singing a Nickelback track, “Hero,” for his earliest public production. Whereas the young Medlin was introverted in his everyday life, the stage 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 recalled.
As he grew up around his five older sisters, Medlin studied at local theater programs, including the Garry Marshall Theatre in Burbank. Here, Medlin was able to hone his craft and starred in Happy Days: The Musical. He also became acquainted with Garry Marshall, who would later attend his solo shows and offer support to Medlin.
“He was one of the best people I’ve known,” Medlin said of Marshall. “He was one of the most humble [people], and I try to strive towards that to keep passing it back.”
Medlin’s singing career took off tremendously after he entered a singing contest in his teen years that was sponsored by the United States Air Force. While he had taken vocal lessons prior to the competition, Medlin was still early in the journey of developing his prowess as a singer and didn’t anticipate achieving a top spot. Nevertheless, he emerged victorious in both the solo category of the international contest and the duet category with his singing partner.
“I was not expecting to win, to be honest,” Medlin said of his victory. “I was just there to support friends that were in the Air Force…[My partner and I] had one rehearsal beforehand, [and] we won both of those [categories], which was shocking because I just didn’t think I was there yet vocally.”
Following the fortuitous victory, Medlin’s father, who is a retired Burbank Police Officer, became his talent manager. His first gigs were booked at Fresco II, a bar and grill in Palmdale. At the time he auditioned for this job, Medlin was 17 and still new to singing professionally. He had to come up with music equipment and an act with 45 minutes of music to work at the restaurant. Since his days performing at Fresco II, Medlin’s song list has expanded, 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, so that really taught me a good lesson: learn as much music as possible,” Medlin recalled.
Tracks on this list include “Witchcraft,” “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head,” and “My Way,” to name a few. Although true to his stage name, Medlin’s act focuses on songs from artists of the Rat Pack group of the 1960s like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, he has an eclectic taste in music. He cites Queen, Whitesnake, and Elvis as a few sources of inspiration in his career. He’s also added variety into his song list by learning tracks like “Ashes” by Celine Dion, “Amarillo By Morning” by George Strait, and Michael Jackson’s iteration of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You.”
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 the rural area of Acton, where his family lived on a five-acre ranch, he says Burbank has consistently remained an enjoyable place for him to visit.
“I’ve always been in and out of Burbank, so this is like my second hometown,” Medlin said.
These positive experiences in Burbank have continued for Medlin, as he has been a prominent performer at The Smoke House for the past five years. His Rat Pack crooning blends perfectly with the nostalgic atmosphere of the iconic restaurant, where artists like Captain & Tennille and The Drifters have performed during the steakhouse’s legendary 75-year history. He is currently at this location on the second Thursday of every month other than this coming January, when he is booked for a private gig at Caesars Palace. Due to rave reviews from Smoke House customers, the restaurant plans to bring Medlin back through 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 provides visitors with delicious meals and swing dance music. The Cicada Club calendar frequently features hosting by renowned entertainer and nephew of Bing Crosby, Johnny Holiday. Holiday sings and showcases an array of acts during his show, including dance numbers and visits from guest stars. He often includes Medlin in the show, and the two perform together at the club with a 12-piece big band backing up their pristine vocals. Medlin credits Holiday as a positive mentor who advises him on how to handle the show business industry.
“He’s taken me under his wing and… showed me the ropes of entertainment in a different light,” Medlin said of Holiday. “So I’m very blessed to [know] him.”
Giving back is an important element of entertainment for Medlin, as many of his family members served in the U.S. Navy and his father served in the Marine Corps. Medlin initially wanted to serve in the military, but due to health conditions was never able to do so. He now uses his talent to entertain military troops, and he never charges a fee when he sings for troops or law enforcement officers. He also takes the time to visit schools as a guest speaker for young students. During these speeches, Medlin advocates against bullying and encourages kids who have an interest in performing to be persistent in chasing after their dreams.
In addition to possessing stunning vocal abilities and a compelling stage presence, Medlin embodies raw authenticity when he steps on stage and performs. His musical flair stems from the closeness he has with the material he chooses for his act, which leaves audiences feeling the emotional honesty of the words Medlin sings before them.
“I’m still me. I don’t change my personality at all,” Medlin says of his onstage persona. “I try to keep myself as organic as humanly possible, just bigger and louder, and [I] try to express more. But you know, singing’s just acting…if I don’t feel any connection to it, I don’t sing it.”
The natural charisma Medlin personifies in front of crowds has led to a loyal international fanbase. After his in-person performances, viewers often approach Medlin and ask about his craft, and others who live in foreign countries remotely message him to express their fondness for his work. Medlin doesn’t call these people followers or fans but instead sees them as friends who are sharing memories with him as he progresses along his professional path.
“I think everybody 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 family, [but] for music.”
As a part of his acting repertoire, Medlin is able to carry out convincing impersonations, and one day would like to venture into voice acting while maintaining his singing career. He plans to keep performing and informing younger generations on his favorite entertainers of the past who similarly performed at locations with big band music. Furthermore, Medlin will remain focused on uplifting audience members 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 one person happy or change one life in the time I’m up on stage, I’m doing my job,” Medlin said. “I’m going to continue to do that and just allow people to come in and be distracted. Whether they’re going through stress in their life, or loss, or anything…I want to bring joy into their life. That’s my goal at the end of each show.”
To learn more about Ricky Medlin Jr., visit his site here