Rick Nelson

May 8, 1940 - December 31, 1985

Rick Nelson Artistfacts

  • Nelson was one of the biggest stars during the era 1957-1963, second only to Elvis Presley among American solo artists in terms of popularity and chart success. He was a teen idol, but unlike Elvis, he didn't move much on stage.
  • His dad was the famous bandleader Ozzy Nelson; his family starred in a popular TV series called The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, where they played themselves. Ricky made his musical performance debut on the show in April 1957 when he was 16, lip-synching his first single, a cover of the Fats Domino song "I'm Walking." Exposure on the show launched his singing career, and by that summer he was on the charts.
  • Nelson was influenced by the rockabilly sound of artists like Elvis, Johnny Cash, and especially Carl Perkins. He befriended these artists, who accepted him even though he came from a different background, as he was born into affluence.
  • His longtime guitarist was James Burton, who joined up with Elvis in 1968.
  • In 1967, his wife Kristin Harmon gave birth to twin boys, Matthew and Gunnar, who later formed the group Nelson. When they scored a #1 hit with "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection" in 1990, the Nelson clan became the only family with #1 hits spaning three generations: Ozzie Nelson (with his orchestra) had a #1 in 1935 with "And Then Some."
  • In 1959, he starred in the movie Rio Bravo, with Dean Martin and John Wayne.

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