Tuesday's Encore concert a tribute to Ricky Nelson

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

"Ricky Nelson Remembered" will bring Hays audience members a retrospective look into the life and music of Ricky Nelson.

The Encore Series event is set for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Fort Hays State University's Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center.

Performed by his identical twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar Nelson, the show is hoped to share insight into and appreciation of Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Nelson's career.

"It's hard to imagine the impact of someone like him," Matthew Nelson said. "Because, frankly, there just aren't any people like that anymore.

"There's nobody that's selling 260 million records, and has lived on TV in front of people for 15 years at the same time. It's a far-reaching thing. That's what's really neat, is to see people in our shows kind of go back to that place."

The show has played to audiences nationally and around the world, including China and England, and has developed a fan-base all its own.

"No matter where we play this concert, we really play like it could be our last show," Matthew Nelson said. "We always meet people after the show and sometimes it takes two to three hours to do that.

"If there's any indication by the responses we're getting, I don't have any plans on stopping anytime soon."

"Ricky Nelson Remembered" is a multi-media event, featuring live music of Ricky Nelson, who died in a New Year's Eve plane crash in 1985. Some of his hits include "Hello Mary Lou," "Travelin' Man" and "Garden Party" performed by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson.

With their own rock band Nelson, Matthew and Gunnar hit No. 1 on Billboard charts with their original hit "Can't Live Without Your Love and Affection." That hit put the Nelson family in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only family in entertainment history with three generations of No. 1 hits.

Their grandfather, Ozzie Nelson, started his entertainment career as a band leader in 1930. In 1935, Ozzie Nelson and his orchestra had a No. 1 hit with "And Then Some." He married the band's vocalist, Harriet Hilliard. Together with their sons David and Ricky, the couple was a staple of American culture in the 1950s and 1960s with their television show, "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet."

Matthew Nelson said he hopes audience members will come away from "Ricky Nelson Remembered" with an appreciation of his dad's legacy and accomplishments.

"In spite of selling so many records and being such a huge star, he was the nicest guy you would ever want to meet, completely down to earth," Matthew Nelson said. "Never said 'no' to an autograph ... was nice to everybody.

"I think that's what I'm most proud of."