By Ted Holteen
Arts & Entertainment Editor
With a pedigree dating back to the Hoover administration, the Nelsons can rightly be called one of Americas royal families of entertainment and then some.
I think the Nelson family is best described as being in the connection business, not just entertainment, Gunnar Nelson said during a telephone interview last week from Indianapolis, where he and twin brother, Matthew, were performing.
We were honored this year for the cultural impact the family has had as a whole, and thats something that makes me really proud, he said.
The Nelson twins will be in Durango Saturday to perform their popular tribute show to their father, Ricky Nelson, who died 25 years ago in plane crash in Texas. Ricky Nelson Remembered is a multimedia show incorporating family photos, movies and the songs of Ricky Nelson performed by his sons.
The late Nelson rose to fame in the 1950s as the real-life son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, the stars of The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet on radio and television. Ozzie Nelson had been an established big-band leader since 1930 when the radio show debuted in 1949. Ricky went on to be one of the biggest pop singing stars of the 1950s and 60s with hits such as Lonesome Town, Hello, Mary Lou and Garden Party, his final chart-topper in 1972.
Its very different from a normal rock and roll show; it celebrates his life and lets people know about him, Gunnar Nelson said.
He was probably the most televised rock star in history, and he had two separate careers between the pop and the country-rock, he said, alluding to Ricky Nelsons formation of the Stone Canyon Band in 1967, the year the twins were born.
Matthew and Gunnar made their own names in the music business in the early 90s as Nelson, the glam-rock/soft metal duo whose biggest hit was 1990s (Cant Live Without Your) Love & Affection. Gunnar said they dont shy away from their own pop career, which was interrupted by the grunge revolution in 1991, but neither do they revisit it during Ricky Nelson Remembered. Those days ended when the brothers finally cut that long, long, blond hair.
If there are enough people who remember us looking like a couple of hot Swedish chicks, maybe well break one out one of these nights, but dont hold your breath, he said.
This is really a show that we get to do, not have to do, and you can tell when you see it were not phoning it in, we love it. I dont think anyone sang a better ballad than our dad in the 1950s.
Gunnar said Ricky Nelson Remembered includes about 16 songs as well as interviews with Ricky Nelsons friends and contemporaries, many of whom Matthew and Gunnar grew up around in a show-business household. But he also said that Ricky wasnt just a superstar but also a real father and friend to his boys, and thats a side the twins hope comes through in the show.
We were best friends with dad, and Id give anything to have him around, Gunnar said.
But we felt closer to our dad with every song we play. In a sense it doesnt feel like hes all the way gone.