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Died On This Date (December 31, 1985) Rick Nelson / Singer-Songwriter & Actor

Posted by themusicsover on December 31, 2009

Rick Nelson
May 8, 1940 – December 31, 1985


Rick Nelson’s career in entertainment began when he was just nine years old playing himself alongside his father, Ozzie Nelson; his mother, Harriet; and brother, David in the popular television show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.   In 1957, when Nelson was 17, he performed his first song on the show and instantly became a pop star and teen idol.  Over the course of his career, he released over 50 charting singles, 19 of which landing in the top 10.  His first single was a 1957 cover of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walking.”  It became one of his signature songs.  Most of his records from the early part of his career veered toward the rockabilly side of pop, but by the early ’70s, he and his Stone Canyon Band were making country rock.  He was one of the first of a scene that included the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.   Unfortunately, many of his fans didn’t appreciate the change as evident at an infamous concert at Madison Square Garden where the audience booed him whenever he tried to perform his newer songs.  That experience lead to him to write and record “Garden Party,” a song that reached #6 on the Billboard chart and would be his last hit record.  On December 31, 1985, Rick Nelson along with his fiance and two members of his band were killed when the small plane in which they were traveling to a show crash landed due to a fire on board.    Despite rumors that the fire was caused by the band freebasing cocaine, it was determined that a faulty heater most likely caused it.  Nelson was later inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

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