As a child, Nelson starred with his parents on The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet
and became a teen idol as a singer in the '50s. He had a string of hits, but by the mid '60s he was no longer in demand as The Beatles were dominating the American music scene.
On October 15, 1971, he played a "Rock & Roll Spectacular" show with fellow '50s stars Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and Bobby Rydell at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He was expected to play his hits, and at first he obliged, opening with "Be-Bop Baby" - not one of his more meaningful songs but a consistent crowd-pleaser. After delivering a few more hits and getting rousing ovations, he started playing newer material, including his country-rock cover of "Honky Tonk Women
" from his yet-to-be-released album Rudy the Fifth
. For that one, he moved to the piano, and when he finished the song and walked back to his guitar, he heard an unusual sound: booing.
Nelson had been playing his newer songs at collage shows, and they were well-received. This audience was different though, comprised of some oldies purists who thought the experience was about the hits and nothing but the hits. The booing unnerved Nelson, who played one more song before cutting his set short and leaving the building.
This experience prompted the former teen idol to write "Garden Party," which became his first US Top 10 hit since 1963's "For You." He died in a plane crash in 1985 at age 45.