Matthew & Gunnar Nelson: ‘Accepting’ New Yorkers Influenced Rick Nelson’s ‘Garden Party’

Rick Nelson‘s life followed a trajectory far too common in the entertainment industry: tons of talent, lots of success, drug use, and an untimely death. Besides leaving behind a great legacy, he also had two sons; twin brothers Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. The singer/songwriter duo achieved great success during the 1990s.

The mold that was shaped around the younger Nelsons was much like the one cast around Ricky Nelson when he dropped the “y” and began to explore a country-rock sound. It all came to a head on October 15, 1971 during Richard Nader’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revival concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Nelson had always dreamed of playing The Garden, but was reluctant to play an oldies show with his new country-rock sound. The story goes that, after performing several of his old hits, Nelson walked off stage when the crowd started to boo during his cover of The Rolling Stones‘ “Honky Tonk Woman.”

“It was too much for that audience,” the Nelson brothers tell Scott Shannon. “That’s the challenge with television… television keeps you stuck in a particular place in people’s minds. I mean, have you seen Greg Brady lately?”

The incident influenced Nelson to write “Garden Party” in 1972; the song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, the last Top 40 hit of Nelson’s career.

Matthew and Gunnar Nelson have a new album titled Peace Out available and will be performing a pair of shows at The Iridium Thursday (6/11) and Friday (6/12) night. Tickets are available here.



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