Tonto Community Concert Association presents “Ricky Nelson Remembered — Matthew and Gunnar Nelson” at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 2 at the Payson High School Auditorium. Single tickets are $35 as available. Children and youth under the age of 18 will be admitted free when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. For more information visit the association Web site at www.tccarim.org or call (928) 478-4363 or (928) 474-4189.
Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family in entertainment history with three generations of #1 hitmakers, the Nelson family is an American Entertainment Dynasty.
Ricky Nelson was America’s original “Teen Idol.” He established himself as one of the most important rock artists of the ’50s and ’60s with over 100 million record sales and three #1’s of his own. His sons, Matthew and Gunnar, had double-platinum success in the early 1990s with three Top 10 singles, four #1 MTV videos, five Top 40 Billboard Hits and they have sold over 6.5 million albums worldwide.
In “Ricky Nelson Remembered,” Matthew and Gunnar Nelson breathe new life into their father’s hit songs, “Hello Mary Lou,” “Travelin’ Man,” “Garden Party,” along with many more. Their soaring sibling harmonies are accompanied by never before seen video footage of the Nelson family with interviews from celebrities influenced by their iconic father.
“We have the broadest age demographic on the planet…8 to 80,” says Matthew Nelson. “And we love ’em all.”
Their songs transcend time. Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, revered for unforgettable past hits, explore fresh creative territory in the present. Magically melodic songwriting and soaring harmonies ensure that this pair will be a vital part of the music scene’s future.
“After the Rain” was the hit debut multi-platinum album by Nelson, the band led by Matthew and Gunnar in the early 1990s. They zoomed to number one with “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” had three Top 10 singles, four #1 MTV videos, five Top 40 Billboard Hits and became massively popular overseas.
Every magazine from Rolling Stone to People did cover stories, and the twins performed on national network television shows like Late Night With David Letterman and Saturday Night Live. Critics tended to unfairly overlook Nelson, however, because of the brothers’ pin-up good looks, but that did not stop millions of fans from ‘getting’ what all the excitement was about.
With the rise of grunge rock in the mid-90s, pop music grew dark and foreboding. Matthew and Gunnar chose not to compromise their positive, drug-free posture to suit the trend. Those who continued to follow the brothers’ musical progress were rewarded with numerous gems on their seven subsequent albums on their own Stone Canyon Records label.
Matthew and Gunnar have rare insights into what it takes to earn longevity in the entertainment world. They continue the inspiring story of a most remarkable show business family. Their grandparents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, achieved immortality with “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” the longest-running sitcom in television history. Earlier, the couple had enjoyed big band success and had scored a number one hit in 1934.
Ricky Nelson emerged from the series’ popularity to establish himself as one of the most important rock artists of the ’50s and ’60s with over 100 million record sales and three number ones of his own. So, with Matthew and Gunnar’s “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection”, the Nelsons landed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family to reach number one record status in three successive generations.
The world maintains its fascination with the Nelsons. The A&E Channel’s Nelson Family “Biography” episode is still the top-rated “Biography” installment ever.
Nelson has always been synonymous with entertainment in America. Matthew and Gunnar see all forms of media as vital links to their fans. Recently, Nelson headlined at the 3rd Annual Rocklahoma Festival, plus they’ve toured extensively with Peter Frampton and Styx. They’ve increased their television hosting work for VH1 and E! Gunnar is a standout reality TV star from VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club successfully shedding 30 pounds to ensure his team’s victory. Gunnar recently co-hosted LIFETIME Radio’s nationally syndicated morning show for a year.
Artistically, Gunnar Nelson recently collaborated with two musical legends when he recorded and sang with Yusuf (Cat Stevens) and Paul McCartney on Yusuf’s “Roadsinger” album. Gunnar recorded several tracks for “Roadsinger” in Nashville at Blackbird Studios including “Boots & Sand,” “Welcome Home,” “To Be What You Must,” “This Glass World” and “Roadsinger.”
While Nelson and McCartney recorded in different locations, Nashville and London, they are both featured on “Boots and Sand.” Gunnar also performed side-by-side singing and playing acoustic guitars with Yusuf (Cat Stevens) in his first U.S. TV appearance promoting the album on “The Chris Isaak Show” on the Bio channel.
Matthew and Gunnar continue to tour and perform sold-out shows around the globe. Contributing to their audience’s extraordinary devotion is the fact that Matthew and Gunnar tirelessly try to please. They take time to meet and greet each and every fan following all performances, in their own words, “Our people are everything to us.”
Due to unending requests, Matthew and Gunnar worked some Rick Nelson classics into their set. They perform them with respect and enthusiasm in the “Ricky Nelson Remembered” popular tribute show. “We figured it’s up to us to help keep his music alive,” Gunnar says. “Not only is it a true pleasure to play these great songs that people love, but it makes us feel profoundly closer to our best friend — our Pop.” What people now get when they come to see Matthew and Gunnar performing live is a set of wall to wall hits that everyone knows. You’d be hard-pressed to hear anything that wasn’t a top five or above in some part of the world.
Defying any preconceptions, Matthew and Gunnar dazzle audiences of all ages. They carry on the family tradition, while carving out their own musical identities with grace, class and passion. Their live show flat-out rocks.
“Our old fan base was primarily very young females,” Matthew says. “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. They 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 — 8 to 80. And we love ’em all.”
Much to their satisfaction, the brothers’ career path displays parallels to that of their legendary father. He found fame as a teen idol before helping found the country rock movement.
“Yeah, it is kind of weird when I sit down to think about it,” Gunnar says. “We had tremendous success at a very young age like he did. And now we’re coming to the same musical renaissance that he had at our age. It’s discovering what makes you unique, your own inner voice… getting to walk your talk for all to see and hear. Unlike our father though, we started out as songwriters first and foremost… something we learned from him when we were babies. I’m so thankful for that lesson. Seasons change, but what never will is my unshakable faith in the belief that you can’t stop the power of a hit song.”
Matthew adds, “I feel more artistically, musically, spiritually and physically vital than I ever have in my life. 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.”