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Ricky Nelson: Forgotten rock and roll pioneer?

Ricky Nelson: Forgotten rock and roll pioneer?

America’s 1950s teenage idol Ricky Nelson was a television star who turned into a rock and roll pioneer. From around 1949 to 1966, Ricky was a regular star on the popular American television sitcom, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. This is due to the fact that Ozzie and Harriet, the stars of the show, were Ricky’s parents. Ricky, a lover of music, was even attributed to being the first teenager to ever promote music on television.

According to Paul Freeman, a writer for Pop Culture Classics, “…Rick Nelson’s place in rock ‘n’ roll history is [significant]. By presenting exhilarating numbers each week on his family’s TV series, he helped the rebellious musical genre earn acceptance.” Freeman continues, stating, “Nelson pioneered the melding of country with rock, paving the way for bands like The Eagles… Despite decades of musical magic and integrity, Rick Nelson remains somewhat under-appreciated.”

Ricky Nelson was an early believer in the rock and roll genre in a period of time when it was frowned upon by the general white-collar public. According to the NME newspaper, a publication in Britain, Ricky Nelson, when asked about rock and roll, claimed, “Anyone who knocks rock ‘n’ roll either doesn’t understand it, or is prejudiced against it, or is just plain square.”

Gunnar Nelson, Ricky’s son, publicly expressed about his father that “he just did what he loved, I don’t think he ever attached his self-worth to his position on the charts. He left that to the one-hit wonders.” Perhaps one of the reasons why Ricky is forgotten is because he rocked out just as a passion–not entirely a reason for being famous and making money.

Due to the fact that Ricky is being somewhat forgotten by newer generations due to being overshadowed by other famous artists from the time period such as Elvis, Gunnar Nelson has also been quoted by Ocala StarBanner writer Dave Schlenker with stating, “Ricky Nelson was arguably the most televised rock star in history… Our dad was our best friend, and we decided years ago that he never got his fair due when he was alive.”

Ricky Nelson was and is a rock and roll icon. Ricky’s son Gunnar Nelson continues honoring his father’s legacy. Gunnar has declared, “[Ricky] went on to sell 400 million singles and basically was responsible for smuggling rock ‘n’ roll into mainstream American living rooms at a critical time.” We can strongly attribute the mainstream love and acceptance of rock and roll to Ricky Nelson–a rocker who should never be forgotten. As a modern generation, it is easy to forget where we come from. If you’re getting tired of your Spotify playlist, you could throw a little Ricky Nelson in there and romanticize and never forget the nostalgic past that we owe modern music to.

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