Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not one generation, nor two, but three generations of Nelsons

Back when I worked for a poster company, one of the posters that we sold was a poster of the group Nelson, which was fronted by Matthew and Gunnar Nelson. Around that same time, my wife was watching the TV version of Father Dowling Mysteries, which starred Matthew and Gunnar's sister Tracy. It's significant that the three siblings were active in both music and television, since their father Rick Nelson was active in both media.

Now I'm too young to remember the television show "Ozzie and Harriet," but I always thought of the dad, Ozzie Nelson, as a TV kind of guy. However, The Music's Over reminds me that Ozzie Nelson was more than a TV star.

Ozzie Nelson was a popular radio and television personality and band leader. By the early ’30s, Nelson was fronting his Ozzie Nelson Band who had a hits with “Over Somebody Else’s Shoulder” and “It’s Gonna Be You.” In 1935, Nelson married the band’s singer, Harriet Hilliard....

Allmusic has additional details:

[D]uring the 1930's, Ozzie Nelson led what was one of the most popular swing and dance bands in the New York area--a part of the country that, in those days, represented close to 15% of the population of the United States, and the heart of the broadcasting and entertainment worlds, apart from movies.

No less a journal than the jazz world bible Downbeat, in 1935, praised Ozzie Nelson band for it "subtle suggestion of melodic beauty and rhythmic patterns" and wrote that these "get under your skin."

And, in a little bit of irony, Allmusic notes the following about Nelson's TV career:

Ozzie Nelson became one of the definitive pop-culture father figures, a likeable, benign, slightly befuddled character rivaled only by Hugh Beaumont (Leave It To Beaver) and Fred MacMurray (My Three Sons), and a model for the figure of Howard Cunningham (played by Tom Bosley) on Happy Days.

Of course, Bosley would later work with Nelson's granddaughter Tracy.

But Allmusic then notes that I'm not the only person who was ignorant of Ozzie Nelson's recording career:

By that time, his music career had been forgotten by the public, eclipsed by the rock 'n roll success of his youngest son.

So, if you spend this Saturday (June 6) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, just bear in mind that the support act (now billed as The Nelson Brothers) is the third generation of performers from the musical Nelson family.
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