It’s been 20 years and several haircuts since the brotherly duo known as Nelson hit the top of the record charts with the No. 1 hit “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection.”
The shoulder-length hair—and the required hairspray that member Gunnar Nelson, now 43, laughingly says contributed to the hole in the ozone responsible for global warming—is gone. But the music goes on. The twin sons of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ricky Nelson recently released a new album, Lightning Strikes Twice.
“We never stopped making music,” his twin Matthew, says. “I am fortunate to say that through the highs and lows, we have always made a living just playing music, and that is still what we do now.”
Lightning Strikes Twice, with its first single “You’re All I Need Tonight,” continues the Nelson twins’ trademarks of melodic songwriting and sibling harmonies displayed on the previous 11 albums they’ve released over the past two decades on their own Stone Canyon Records.
Fan demand has led to musical reunions and resurrections for numerous hit-making acts of the ’80s. “It’s not quite as unhip to be a creature from the ’80s, all of a sudden,” Gunnar says. “People realize that a lot of that music from the ’80s was very important to them at a very important time in their lives.”
Growing up as members of one of America’s most famous and beloved show-business families, Gunnar and Matthew were constantly exposed to the performing arts. Their father, Ricky, had a superstar career that stretched across radio, television, movies and music. Their mother, Kristin Harmon (a sister to NCIS actor Mark Harmon), was a ballet dancer and a painter. And their little sister, Tracy, grew up to become an actress best known in the role of Sister Stephanie on TV’s Father Dowling Mysteries.
“My father always had an acoustic guitar in his hand. He was always writing songs. From a very young age, I got great social proof right in front of me that making a living doing music was doable,” Gunnar recalls.
While the brothers have continued their music partnership through the years, along the way they have each tackled individual projects as well. Gunnar toured with the band Scrap Metal, cohosted a nationally syndicated radio show and participated in a season of the reality show Celebrity Fit Club. Matthew was part of a separate rock trio and, for several years, produced music for the American Music Awards. Both play on records for other artists and tour together for Ricky Nelson Remembered, a tribute show to their father.
And at every phase and stage of their musical journey, they remember the words of their father. “My dad,” notes Matthew, “always said, ‘A career is nothing but a series of comebacks.’”
Visit Nelson’s official website