Consider a world where Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and The Eagles were all regular visitors to your house. A world where George Harrison was literally “Uncle George” who lived next door, and one where Mama Cass Elliott was your babysitter. Now consider guitarist Gunnar Nelson and his brother Matthew, for that was the world they grew up in. Where most fans could only dream of meeting their musical heroes, the sons of the legendary Ricky Nelson were privy to music royalty nearly every single day of their childhood.
Ricky Nelson’s music (and particularly the guitar prowess of James Burton) has been cited as a major influence for such players as Brian May and Jimmy Page. Proving that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree, the brother’s own 1990 debut album went multi-platinum and spawned the #1 hit, “Love and Affection”.
The Nelson Brothers are currently involved in several different projects. Their recent album; “Lightning Strikes Twice” is a follow-up of sorts to the hugely successful “After the Rain”. They’re also involved in a traveling road show called “Ricky Nelson Remembered” which pays tribute to their late father and his music.
In addition, the brothers are also performing as part of “Scrap Metal”, a show which features the lead singers of popular 80’s bands doing nothing but their biggest hits. Finally, Gunnar and Matthew are working on a brand new Brothers Nelson experience that’s been five years in the making and promises to showcase the duo as a modern day Everly Brothers.
I sat down with Gunnar Nelson to get the scoop on these projects as well as what it was like growing up in a musical household and performing alongside legendary guitarist, James Burton.
What was it like growing up in such a unique musical environment?
I was born too late for my Dad’s first go around in music, but when Matthew and I were becoming musically conscious, it was vintage garden party Stone Canyon Band. I remember my Dad rehearsing in the pool house that was right down the hall. Bob Dylan would stop by the house and George Harrison lived next door; always encouraging him to write his own songs. When Matthew and I were growing up, this stuff was in our house all the time. I mean, these guys were doing what the Eagles wound up doing four years later, but in MY house. [laughs]
Read more of my Guitar World interview with Gunnar Nelson here.