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Ricky Nelson tribute concert headed to Henry

Special Photo
The music of the late Ricky Nelson (center) will be featured May 14, in a concert at the Jason T. Harper Event Center in McDonough. The singer's sons, Gunnar and Matthew, will perform during the show.

Special Photo The music of the late Ricky Nelson (center) will be featured May 14, in a concert at the Jason T. Harper Event Center in McDonough. The singer's sons, Gunnar and Matthew, will perform during the show.

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

A pair of 1990s rock stars are coming to McDonough, to pay tribute to their father's musical legacy, and to raise money for a local non-profit organization.

Gunnar and Matthew Nelson will perform at the Jason T. Harper Event Center May 14, as part of the Ricky Nelson Remembered Tour. The tour is designed to mark the 30th anniversary of singer Ricky Nelson's death.

A portion of the proceeds from the concert will benefit Noah's Ark Animal Rehabilitation Center and Children's Care Home, located in Locust Grove.

Gunnar Nelson, 43, said he and his twin brother began the tour at the beginning of this year, after fans suggested they put together a show in honor of their father.

"We wanted to make sure we had made our own mark in music first, before we even entertained anything like this," Gunnar Nelson said. "We actually sold five million records of our own to people who had no idea who Ricky Nelson was."

The Nelson brothers, under the stage name Nelson, achieved popularity in the early 1990s with their debut album, "After the Rain." They scored a No. 1 hit with "(Can't Live Without Your) Love and Affection," and had three Top 10 singles off the album.

Their grandparents starred in "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," the longest-running sitcom in television history, and scored a No. 1 big-band hit in 1934. Ricky Nelson became a rock star in the 1950s and 1960s with more than 100 million record sales and three chart-topping hits. With the twins' musical success, the Nelson family earned a slot in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family with No. 1 records in three successive generations.

The family, Gunnar Nelson said, was also inducted last month into the Smithsonian Institute, for their impact on American families. He said his father, with hits like "Travelin' Man" and "Garden Party," is an integral part of that legacy.

"We argue that Ricky Nelson was the most televised rock star in history," said Gunnar Nelson. "He was on the Ozzie and Harriet show for 14 1/2 years -- 435 episodes. He got to perform at the end of every show. America grew up with Ricky Nelson, so people would run to the TV, and wouldn't miss an episode."

Gunnar added that the reaction to the tribute show, thus far, has been "fabulous," as fans of varying ages have flocked to their performances. The twins make every effort to reach audiences with their father's music, as well as their own.

"It's taken some time to spread the word, but we're at a consistent 95 percent capacity level wherever we play the show," he said. "If we see people in the audience who are between 30 and 45, who might remember our music, we might sneak in a couple of our songs."

"Our old fan base was primarily very young females," said Matthew Nelson. "We were the guys they had on the posters at home and in their lockers. Now, 10 years later, those girls are grown up. They have children. They have husbands.

"They have real lives -- and we're still a part of it," continued Matthew Nelson. "They [concert-goers] not only bring their husbands and children to our shows, they bring their parents and grandparents. We have the broadest age demographic on the planet."

Matthew said he is looking forward to seeing what the future holds, for his musical pursuits with his brother.

"I feel more artistically, musically, spiritually and physically vital than I ever have in my life," he said. "We're just starting, as far as a musician's life is concerned. Yeah, we feel completely blessed to come from where we come from, and to have accomplished so much so young, and on our own terms. But with what we've currently got up our sleeves for TV, for the stage, and for the airwaves, I promise you this: you ain't seen nothin' yet."

General admission tickets for the concert are $35, and VIP seats are available for $75. For more information, call (770) 957-0768, or (877) 725-8849.