Sam Nelson is the son of the late '50s teen idol Rick Nelson. These days, he works as an A&R producer for Capitol Records. Recently, Capitol put out Greatest Love Songs, a collection of Rick's most romantic recordings. It was a project that Sam was involved with, and it served as an extension of his own personal journey of discovery.
"I actually didn't get more absorbed into what he'd done musically until after his death," said Sam in an interview for the April 25 cover story Goldmine is doing on the life and career of Rick Nelson. "So, after he died — and he died when I was about 11 years old — and, at that point, my mom and dad had gone through a pretty brutal divorce for many, many years, and I didn't get the opportunity to see him very much. So, I pretty much took the opportunity after he died to just really dive in head first and absorb everything, everything he'd done."
Going through Rick's rockabilly material on through to "Garden Party" was a revelation for Sam and a chance for him to get to know the man he called "pop" better. Rick died Dec. 31, 1985. Sam was 11 at the time.
"He passed away when I was really young, which is super unfortunate for anybody who's lost a parent that early, but I've had his music pretty much to be my record and kind of a big lesson book for a child to grow and learn from him directly through his music," says Sam.
Rick Nelson's Greatest Love Songs includes hits such as "Poor Little Fool" and "Hello, Mary Lou," among other lesser-known classics like "Lonesome Town."
To find out more about Rick Nelson's recording legacy, visit www.ricknelson.com
For more on Sam's memories of his father, and to read more from those who knew him best, read Goldmine's April 25 cover story. In it, you'll find out what John Wayne had to say about Rick's quick-draw abilities on the set of "Rio Bravo," plus other fascinating tidbits of information about Rick's music.