"Ricky Nelson Remembered" playing at Lancaster Fairgrounds

Matthew Nelson (left) and brother, Gunnar Nelson (right) will be playing Ricky Nelson Remembered, a "live version of a biography" on their father July 12 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Lancaster Fairgrounds. (click for larger version)
July 02, 2014
LANCASTER—In his 1972 top ten hit, "Garden Party," Ricky Nelson proclaimed, "But if memories were all I sang, I rather drive a truck." Over forty years later, however, twin sons Matthew and Gunnar have returned to those memories in their Ricky Nelson Remembered Tour, which is stopping in Lancaster on July 12 at 7 p.m. During a telephone interview with Matthew on Monday, he conveyed his excitement at playing New Hampshire again, saying, it's "a beautiful state you have here."

The tour, which has been going on for five years now, is more of a "celebration" than a tribute, according to Nelson. "We're not up there dressing like our dad or singing like him or trying to be like him," he said. "I think the difference is well, of course, we're our father's children," and "to a certain degree, he kind of lives on through us." Along with famous Ricky Nelson songs, the twins will also be sharing photographs and videos, making the concert more of a "live version of a biography."

The show's inspiration came from years of fans requesting that his band, Nelson, play a few Ricky Nelson songs, therefore, "we decided to do a show that was just about him" to "pay him a better respect." The official genesis was a show Nelson played for the U.S. Navy stationed in Japan back in 1996. The commanding officer was a huge Ricky Nelson fan, according to Matthew, so they played a few of their father's hits. After seeing the 18 and 19 year-old sailors dancing to music older than their generation, they were convinced of its legacy.

Nelson said that along with Ricky's hits, they also perform a few of their own. At the end of every show, the brothers perform "Just Once More," a song they wrote about Ricky. Nelson commented that growing up, "I saw my dad and grandparents and people would come up to them and talk," many saying they felt like part of the family after watching "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" for fourteen years. Being able to share personal memories with the audience is what's so "rewarding with or show," commented Nelson. It's like "a family reunion."

Being a member of the third Nelson generation with a number one hit, Matthew said he "was a fan of his [Ricky's]" and "grew up with his music." He described his family as "just regular and down to earth. It's just what they did. It taught me not to get a big head and move forward." Because of this, Nelson and his brother always take two to three hours after a show to talk with fans. An older woman who he spoke to after a concert in California had brought a Ricky Nelson album and an old black and white photo of her sister with it, her Christmas present in 1958. The woman conveyed that her sister was a big fan and had recently passed from cancer. "I just wanted to show you," the woman said, "how much joy your dad gave her."

It was Ricky who inspired the twins to get into music, producing their first demo tape when they were twelve. At eighteen, Nelson recalls watching the sun rise on the kitchen counter, after a night of talking with Ricky. He said of their concert the night before, "I consider you my peers and I'm proud of you." Nelson remembered that Ricky also conveyed that he "was going to take some time off to work with [them]" after his tour. This was only a months before he died in the 1985 plane crash. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years later.

Of the tour, Matthew said he and Gunnar "genuinely appreciate being able to keep his [Ricky's] music and legacy alive." He recalls playing a show at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles, a venue Ricky had played years before. It sold out in five minutes. While on stage, "I remember really feeling at that moment, [that] it was our turn now," that "the torch was passed."

The Lancaster show is free admission and will be held at the Lancaster Fairgrounds from 7 to 10 p.m. on July 12. For more information on the Ricky Nelson Remembered tour, visit http://www.rickynelsonremembered.com/.

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