One memory of Rick Nelson – Triggered by Adam Sheet’s fine article on “Garden Party”
By ‘Rebel’ Rod Ames
On December 31, 1985, Rick Nelson and his band were on their way to Dallas to play a New Years Eve gig, when he so tragically and prematurely left us.
My future ex-wife worked for a radio research firm at the Las Colinas Studios in Irving, Texas.
We (I) had planned to go see Mr. Nelson that night, but his gig collided with The Studios New Years Eve Extravaganza.
Joe King Carrasco played the entire evening with everyone dancing while Father Guido Sarducci of SNL fame roamed the crowd in costume, comedically blessing everyone he came across, including my then Catholic wife and me. It was an incredibly entertaining evening and my anger was slowly subsiding as the evening progressed.
I had seen Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band many years earlier, probably around 1975 in Austin at the old Texas Opry House. I knew his performance would be nearly if not completely perfect. So I was at first more than a little pissed I was being “forced” to attend this company deal. However, as the night grew on and the booze took over, my anger completely disappeared and I enjoyed the evening as everyone else could not help but do.
We were on our way home from the bash when we turned on the radio and heard the sad news of Rick Nelson’s death. His Dallas gig never occurred. His plane had gone down on it’s way to Big ‘D’. Everyone on board, except for the pilots, had perished. We wept the rest of those wee hours of the first day of the New Year until we fell asleep. It had not been since John Lennon’s tragic death a few years earlier that I had felt such great loss from someone in the world of entertainment.
When something like this occurs, I always wonder how the evolution of the artist’s music would have progressed. I am quite certain, in Rick Nelson’s case; he would have continued raising the bar for himself, keeping on keeping on, providing people like us with great roots music. And if he couldn’t, then you would probably pass him on a highway somewhere driving a truck, just as he had promised us in “Garden Party”.
He was committed to his music and that is what makes great artists great, and is precisely why we are still talking and writing about him with such great reverence to this very day. He truly was one of the great ones. We still listen to his music today. It is timeless. We all feel as if we knew him personally. After all, we had literally grown up with him.
He is sorely missed.