On what would have been Rick Nelson‘s 82nd birthday, we recall his first appearance here in the Spring of 1958 at the PNE Garden Auditorium. He was not well received. The late Jack Wasserman wrote in The Vancouver Sun:
“When rock and roller Ricky Nelson finished his concert, a phalanx of bodyguards grabbed his arms and half dragged and half carried him to a waiting car. He was out of the building within ten seconds. Disc Jockey Red Robinson, the boy most responsible for local rock and roll, was booed down when he tried to introduce Nelson for the second show. Nelson came on stage unannounced. At the end of each number the silence was almost eerie. There was no applause.
Between shows Nelson was whisked over to the neighboring Admiral Hotel for a shower. Trying to get back into the Gardens a mob of about 100 kids started grabbing and pushing. They bowled over Nelson’s burly bodyguards and the only man between Nelson and dismemberment was Famous Artists’ Hugh Pickett, who has fewer muscles than anyone. He pulled Nelson to safety.”
Rick’s music was some of the finest white Rock and Roll of its time, especially the guitar work of lead guitarist James Burton. That did not compensate for his dreadful stage presence and left a bad taste in the mouths of the teenagers who took in the show. Radio loved Rick Nelson and he recorded 20 Top 10 hits between 1957 and 1962. Here they are in order of appearance on the charts, including his final hit, 1972’s “Garden Party”.
We’re celebrating the timeless music of Rick Nelson today with Red Robinson’s Legends and our friends at Spotify!