A music history lesson by the Nelson Twins

Kaysea Thomas

Twin rock duo Matthew and Gunnar Nelson visited the Kent Stage recently to play a tribute to their father, Ricky Nelson, and subsequently give Kent residents a music history lesson.

The audio-visual “Ricky Nelson Remembered” tour has been running for more than a year to honor the late music idol Ricky Nelson, whose popularity blossomed from the time he was a teenager in the 50s until the mid-70s.

Although he died in 1985, his legacy lived on in his twin sons who fronted the band Nelson. One of the band’s 90s hits, “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection,” topped the charts. Now, twins Matthew and Gunnar are bringing their family’s legacy to stages around the world. From archive footage of their family to interviews with friends of Ricky, the Nelson twins are treating audiences to a “Behind the Music” type show.

“It goes through his entire timeline of his life,” Matthew Nelson explained. “We get to tell stories about him, really put a personal spin because we knew him really well, of course. He was our dad and we were very close.”

Although they occasionally play a few of their own songs, the Nelson twins try to focus on their father’s music. However, they do like to close the show with a song they wrote about Ricky called “Just Once More.”

“In a nutshell the song is about what I’ve figured out. I always tell people, I’ve lived an amazing life. It’s taken me all over the world and I’ve had number one records and it’s all great and stuff, but the reality is, I’d give everything up for having my dad here for five more minutes,” Matthew Nelson said.

Matthew Nelson said that he feels as though audience members can relate to this sentiment.

“I don’t care who you are,” he said. “There’s someone that you miss.”

Nelson said the tribute tour has affected him in unexpected ways.

“This is my history, this is my family. It’s almost a selfish thing because I miss my dad less when I play his music,” he said. “I didn’t know that until we got out there and did it.”

Nelson pointed out that the Nelsons are a real American entertainment family. His grandparents, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, had a radio show that turned into the longest running television sitcom. Between Ricky Nelson and his sons, the family has sold millions of albums. Matthew and Gunnar have even appeared on several VH1 and E! music specials. But through all this, Matthew Nelson mostly feels humble about his family’s achievements and his own life experiences.

“The thing about the ‘Ricky Nelson Remembered’ show is I can have my brother there with me. We can both experience kind of the, I guess you would call it, the cornerstone of the foundation of where we’re from and reconnect every day with why we’re here,” he said.

From growing up in an entertainment family to achieving tremendous success with his own musical endeavors, Matthew Nelson is still “jazzed” to be living his life.

“It hasn’t been all great,” he said. “There have been tremendous highs and tremendous lows and the cool part about it is, through it all I can honestly say that I just wouldn’t change places with anyone in the world.”

The Nelson twins are releasing a new album “Lightning Strikes Twice” in November.

Contact Kaysea Thomas at [email protected].