Last week, I went to a “Garden Party” to reminisce with my old friends. It was a chance to share old memories and to hear the songs of Ricky Nelson again.
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson put on the fantastic “Ricky Nelson Remembered” at Shipshewana Event Center in Shipshewana, Indiana.
Ricky Nelson was one of the pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll in the late-’50s and early-’60s.
The son of Ozzie and Harriet Hilliard Nelson, he grew up in the spotlight. He’s lauded as one of the first “teen idols.”
His brand of pop hits, covers and original songs made him a staple, often rivaling the likes of Elvis Presley. His legacy was cut short when he was killed in 1985 at age 45.
His twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar, rose to fame in the early ’90s with their band Nelson. They were 18 when their father died, but his love for music already had spread to them. They enjoyed quick success with Top 40 hits “More Than Ever,” “After The Rain” and the No. 1 ”(I Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection.”
“Ricky Nelson Remembered” is a show they dedicate to their late father’s legacy. The program combines a performance by Matthew and Gunnar with vintage, archival footage from throughout their father’s career, including scenes from “Ozzie And Harriet,” concert footage and rare home movies. Seeing the show was like watching a VH1 “Behind The Music” special, live.
Matthew and Gunnar were exceptional. The blood harmony was amazing. My friend Theresa was in awe of how much the duo sound like their dad. “Believe What You Say,” “Poor Little Fool,” “Stood Up” and “Hello Mary Lou” brought many of the show-goers back to a time when they raced to the record store to purchase his 45s.
Matthew shared personal insights about his father, often with humorous stories and tidbits. Video clips also featured icons like John Fogerty and Paul McCartney as well as interesting facts about the Hall-of-Famer. I was intrigued to learn Ricky Nelson is the only artist in history to have a No. 1 TV show, a No. 1 single and a No. 1 movie all in the same week.
The Nelson family holds a distinction: The only musical family with No. 1 hits across three generations. Their grandfather, Ozzie, had No. 1s in the 1940s.
“Travelin’ Man” was a crowd favorite at the event center, as were the hits “Lonesome Town,” “Fools Rush In,” “It’s Late” and the foot-stompin’ “I’m Walkin.” I loved hearing the folks sing along.
The night was made even better with a performance of “(I Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection.” That brought be right back to my senior year of high school.
The show ended with the beautiful “Garden Party” and a new song, “Just Once More,” in which they yearn to see their dad one more time. Beautiful!
David T. Farr can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.