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Like father, like sons

Nelson to peform “Ricky Nelson Remembered” at Lakeside Casino

Contributed photo
Eighteen-year-old twins Gunnar, left, and Matthew, right, are pictured with their father Ricky Nelson.
Contributed photo Eighteen-year-old twins Gunnar, left, and Matthew, right, are pictured with their father Ricky Nelson.

Gunnar Nelson has a favorite memory of his father that sticks out in his mind.

It was 2 a.m. in in the morning and Gunnar and his twin brother Matthew had finished playing a gig in a Los Angeles nightclub earlier that night. Now, they were in the kitchen with their dad, singer and entertainer Ricky Nelson.

"It was one of those great talks you can only have in the kitchen," Gunnar said during an Osceola Sentinel-Tribune telephone interview Jan. 30.

Ricky told them that not only did he love them as his sons, he admired them as his musical peers.

"It was validation from our father, but also our hero," Gunnar said.

The year was 1985 and Gunnar and Matthew were 18. About a month later, Ricky would die in a plane crash on his way to perform a New Year's Eve concert.

Ricky Nelson Remembered

Matthew and Gunnar, who found success with their own band Nelson, are keeping their father's legacy alive.

The show "Ricky Nelson Remembered" will be played Friday and Saturday at Lakeside Casino. The shows begin at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10-$20.

Ricky's legacy

Ricky is the only artist to have a No. 1 song, No. 1 movie and No. 1 TV show in the same week. "Life Magazine" coined the phrase ‘Teen Idol’ after him and he is credited with pioneering the country rock sound.

Ricky starred alongside his family in the television series "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

"He was America's sweetheart having grown up in front of America," Gunnar said.

Ricky's legacy includes 53 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and 19 other top-10 hits. He is one of the biggest-selling artists of all time, a Golden Globe winner for his performance alongside John Wayne in "Rio Bravo" and in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.


Gunnar said one of the purposes of the tour is to reconnect people to a time in American history, especially with the current financial downturn and intense media.

"It's to immerse for a couple of hours into a world that's more innocent, supportive and positive, and proud to be who we are," Gunnar said.

The show will feature Ricky's hit songs, including “Hello Mary Lou,” “Poor Little Fool,” “Travelin’ Man,” “I’m Walkin’,” “I Gotta Feeling,” “Teenage Idol,” “Garden Party” and many more.

Gunnar said the show will be more than just a concert, it will be a production show with television clips, interview footage and storytelling.

Gunnar said it's not just the story of Ricky Nelson, but the story of rock and roll. The event showcases Ricky's life with never-before-seen interviews from artists he influenced, including Paul McCartney and Chris Isaak.

Tickets may be purchased online at RedTruckTickets.com, via phone at 877-477-5253 or in person at 777 Casino Drive. People must be age 21 or older.

Visit RickyNelsonRemembered.com for additional information.

Iowa connection

Iowa holds a special connection for the Nelson family. Harriet was born in Des Moines, and in 2007, she was inducted into the Iowa Rock'n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame.

Gunnar said he enjoys walking through the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake because it has pictures of the three musical generations of his family.

"For me, to walk down the hallway and see 100 years of family history on the wall, it's really cool," he said. "It keeps me grounded."

While the band Nelson is famous for their own songs and songwriting, Gunnar said the show is specifically geared toward their father's success.

However, they will play the hit "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection." There is a specific reason for this choice of song.

The song is the reason the Nelson family is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family in history with three successive generations of No. 1 hits.

Favorite songs

When asked which of his father's songs is his favorite to play, Gunnar answered "Lonesome Town."

His reason was the production approach was honest with an acoustic guitar and a "very vulnerable vocal."

Gunnar said Matthew likes to sing "Garden Party."

"It sums up dad's life and philosophy — you can't please everyone, you've got to please yourself."

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