|Rick Nelson was declared a teen idol at age 16, and continued his singing career as an adult.|
Room 106 of the Guntersville Holiday Inn is a hallowed shrine along rock ’n’ roll’s sacred trail. It’s where one-time teen idol Ricky Nelson spent the last two days of his life before his untimely death on January 31, 1985. Nelson and his Stone Canyon Band were killed during the emergency landing of his blazing DC-3 (at one time owned by Jerry Lee Lewis) in a Texas cow pasture.
|The International Rick Nelson Fan Club will celebrate the life and final days of the acclaimed singer October 19 and 20 at the Guntersville Holiday Inn.|
Nelson had stopped in Guntersville for impromptu shows at PJ’s Alley, co-owned by his former guitarist Pat Upton. The Stone Canyon Band had just finished a Citrus Bowl appearance in Orlando, and decided to stop in Alabama for a couple of nights before a scheduled New Year’s Eve appearance in Dallas. That final show in Guntersville was eventually immortalized as the “Rave On” show by fanatical Ricky Nelson devotees, as Nelson closed the night with Buddy Holly’s “Rave On.”
America grew up with Ricky Nelson in the 1950s through television’s “Ozzie and Harriet Show.” By age 16, Nelson had scored a Top Ten hit with “A Teenager’s Romance.” A performance of Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” on the show yielded a million records sold in the week following the broadcast. Life magazine put him on the cover in 1958, coining the phrase “teen idol” for Nelson. By age 21, he had sold 35 million records, with nine gold singles.
Hailed by many as the only teen idol with any lasting influence on rock ’n’ roll, Ricky Nelson eventually dropped the “y” from his name in the 1970s and began recording country songs. He’s credited as a country rock pioneer, launching the careers of Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles, and Poco. After a round of booing at a 1972 Madison Square Garden show while trying to perform new songs, Nelson wrote the timeless classic “Garden Party.”
The International Rick Nelson Fan Club will celebrate the life and final days of the acclaimed singer October 19 and 20 at the Guntersville Holiday Inn. Events include a Rick Nelson look-alike contest and plenty of Nelson music. A permanent wall shrine entitled “The Last Two Days” has been erected in the hotel lobby, complete with photos and memories of Nelson’s final show. And most sacred of all, Room 106 has been christened the Rick Nelson Room and will be available for viewing. Call 256-582-2220 for details.