'Ricky Nelson Remembered': Nelson brothers to show Oxford hits don’t fall far from the family tree
by Madasyn Czebiniak
Aug 18, 2013 | 5689 views |  0 comments | 87 87 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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During a well-deserved break from a tour schedule that includes more than 100 shows, multi-platinum recording artists Matthew and Gunnar Nelson find time to do some car shopping. But even this endeavor is not strictly a pleasure trip for the brothers who hail from a family with three generations of No. 1 hit songs.

“We’re classic car hobbyists,” Matthew said. “We’re pretty seriously talking about opening another business for antique cars in Nashville.”

But not to worry — that’s just a work in progress. The sons of the late Ricky Nelson and grandsons of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson will bring the “Ricky Nelson Remembered” tour to the Oxford Performing Arts Center on Aug. 24 at 7 p.m.

Ricky Nelson, for whom the term “Teen Idol” was coined by Life Magazine in 1958, is remembered as one of the most influential and televised country-rock stars of all time. Ricky starred alongside his parents in the show “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” and won a Golden Globe for his performance in the movie “Rio Bravo” in 1959. Over the course of his career, he had two songs hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 — “Travelin’ Man” and “Poor Little Fool.”

“We’re really proud of our family,” Matthew said.

Both No. 1 songs will be among those featured in Saturday’s concert. And that’s just the beginning.

“Our dad had so many hits, we can play for three hours straight and not repeat a song,” Matthew said. He’s not lying — Ricky Nelson had more than 50 hit singles.

Matthew said he and Gunnar like to play in Alabama because they always get such a warm welcome.

“We’re truly excited,” he said. “We just played a gig outside of Guntersville, which has a lot of historical significance for us because it was the last place our father performed before his accident,” Matthew said. Ricky Nelson died in a plane crash on his way to perform at a New Year’s Eve party in 1986.

After their own song landed at the No. 1 spot — the 1990 hit “(I Can’t Get Enough of Your) Love and Affection” — the brothers decided it was time to represent their family legacy in one performance.

Matthew said the original “Ricky Nelson Remembered” show started with he and Gunnar playing a couple of their father’s tunes, but that didn’t get them very far. After incorporating a video aspect into the performance, the show took off.

“It’s not a tribute show, but a celebration,” Matthew explained. “People feel like they grew up with our family. At the last show we met a 102-year-old fan and he was awesome.”

Matthew and Gunnar have sold more than 10 million records with Nelson, which Matthew hopes will inspire younger fans — many of whom have no idea who Ricky Nelson was — to come to their other shows.

“People know us, but not Ricky,” he said.

Matthew describes “Ricky Nelson Remembered” as different from other tribute shows.

“It’s more of a family reunion, a rock ‘n’ roll history lesson,” he said. “It’s our entire family legacy we’re representing. We’re not up there dressing like our dad, trying to act like him because nobody could be him but him. My dad told me, just try to be honest.”

Matthew says “Garden Party,” which will be showcased at the show, is his current favorite song to play.

“Garden Party” tells the story of how Ricky was booed off stage during a 1976 performance at Madison Square Garden. It was the first song to portray Ricky as more than just a pretty face.

Nelson was booed off stage for not doing exactly what the audience wanted him to do, Matthew said. As a performer himself, he agrees with the chorus: “You see, you can’t please everyone, so you’ve got to please yourself.”

“I know how my dad felt to not fit in due to an image perception. (The fans) wanted oldies and he played some contemporary. They expected him to step out of a black-and-white television set.”

Matthew said he and Gunnar hope attendees of the concert are ready for an experience unlike any other.

“They’re going to laugh, cry and feel like they connect with themselves. It’s much more than just a show,” he said. “It’s an emotional experience to take them to another place.”

Staff Writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3553. On Twitter: @Mczebiniak_Star

What: Ricky Nelson Remembered, featuring Matthew and Gunnar Nelson of the band Nelson.
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Oxford Performing Arts Center, 100 Choccolocco Street
Tickets: Tickets may be purchased at the Oxford Civic Center. Advanced reserve tickets $35, general admission $25, all tickets $40 at the door.
Info: Call 256-831-2660 or 256-832-0000 or visit online at www.rickynelsonremembered.com.
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