WISCONSIN RAPIDS — He is the only artist to have a No. 1 song, No. 1 movie and No. 1 TV show in the same week. With 53 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1973, starring on televisions The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet from 1952 to 1966, and a 1987 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, the late Ricky Nelson made a mark on American popular culture.
His legend lives on through his twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar.
Ricky Nelson Remembered, coming March 8 to the Wisconsin Rapids Performing Arts Center in Wisconsin Rapids, features the brothers as triple platinum recording artist Nelson. Presenting an interactive, multimedia rock n roll concert experience performing their fathers hits, including Hello Mary Lou, Travelin Man, Im Walking, Garden Party, alongside their self-penned chart toppers Love & Affection and After the Rain, the program is in honor of Ricky, but distinct from a tribute show.
Were singing his tune and telling his story, but its a celebration, said Matthew Nelson in a recent phone interview. We ease people into a really nice trip through 50 years of hit songs and also the people that created it. Its really emotional, but in a really cool way. Thats what Im excited about. And we have great musicians that we play with.
Ricky Nelson was a pioneer of the country rock sound, and Ricky Nelson Remembered takes the audience on a journey through the annals of Nelson family history, as well as the greater scope of rock and roll.
We tell the stories, Matthew Nelson said. Its a very personal show for me. Im representing my whole family on this stage. Thats about as personal as it can get.
Being largely responsible for smuggling rock n roll into American living rooms, without Ricky Nelson and his musical influence, it is possible that modern popular music wouldnt exist. His unique sound is an influence on modern groups such as Phish, Deerhunter, Johnny Frasanti of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Fogerty of Creedence Clear Water Revival, Brian May of Queen and The Eagles.
What modern audiences enjoy on a daily basis wouldnt exist if people hadnt blazed the trail, Matthew Nelson said. People like Ricky Nelson.
It is this pervading musical influence that makes Matthew and Gunnar Nelsons Ricky Nelson Remembered an enjoyable concert for all ages.
Although raised in Los Angeles, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson feel more at ease away from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and always have enjoyed performing in the Midwest.
We were never one of those bands that was about N.Y. or L.A., Matthew Nelson said. We felt more comfortable playing Journey records than Elvis Costello. Our dad was the same way. Our grandparents were the same way.
Gunnar and I have always felt much more comfortable in the Midwest, he added. There is a different energy with people. In my opinion, thats the heart of America. I really like to look people in the eye, shake their hand and talk to them.
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson do just that after every show. We meet every single person. We never leave early, Matthew Nelson said. Its a different kind of show that way. Its our way of thanking them.