Friday, 8 March 2013

Father and sons: a touching tribute to Rick Nelson

A father and his sons
There is no bond quite like that between father and son. Rick Nelson was in an interesting position. The son of show business people, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson who had a successful television show in the 1950s and 1960s, he became a teen idol then had a daughter and three sons of his own. He was a successful musician and never stopped touring. Tragically when they were just teenagers, and twins Matthew and Gunnar had just started to get to know their dad, he was killed on New Year's Eve of 1985.

A tribute
The 1986 American Music Awards on Jan. 27 paid tribute to the memory of Rick Nelson. Matthew and Gunnar, who were 18 at the time, appeared to give this touching tribute to their late father:

A haunting memory
I distinctly remember this song echoing in my mind for the rest of the night. It is such a beautiful ballad, and very typical of the power ballads of hair metal bands of the 1980s. I thought after the performance, the song would appear on the radio, or video shows, but it never did. There was never even a hint of it. Over the years, this song popped into my mind periodically, but I still never could find it anywhere. It was a beautiful ballad, a touching tribute by two sons to their father who had recently died. Even with the dawn of the Internet, every so often I would look for it but came up empty. The same experience repeated itself with the advent of YouTube.

For whatever reason, I thought about the song the other day. This time, I widened my search as far as I could by typing in "Tribute to Rick Nelson be still be still be still my selfish heart". Lo and behold, the following video, the one I heard just once before, back in 1986, appeared. I'm not sure about the Asian subtitles, but really who cares. I think the song holds up pretty well.

Where are they now?
The Nelsons kept on performing, hitting number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts with their song "Love and Affection" in September of 1990. Now, they are the same age their father was when he died, and they have toured doing a tribute to their father.

A funny thing happened on the way to Whoop-Up Days
It's funny how things come together, and how small the world really is. While I was writing this I realized I actually saw Rick Nelson perform live at Whoop-Up Days in Lethbridge. It is the annual fair in the last week of August. I cannot recall the exact year, but I do remember him singing "Garden Party" and some of his other hits. It was a cool night, a bit rainy, and we were bundled up sitting in the grandstand while we watched him perform. And a just a few years later he was dead.


  1. This is so cool. I could have written this article. I also remember this performance and have looked for the song many, many times over the years. I noticed this is from 2013 so I'm not sure anyone will see this but, Thank You so much. This is awesome.

  2. As a a Fifteen year old, I video taped the Music Awards of 1986 and did my best to transcribe the words to this Song. That lined piece of paper still sits folded in a memory box.