Ricky Nelson was the young pop singer worshipped by his fans for many years, and he was one of the most televised acts of his time.
While many know the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, few know how a split-second decision resulted in his two young sons’ survival.
Eric Hilliard Nelson was born in Teaneck, New Jersey, on May 8, 1940. His parents’ successful sitcom, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” developed by his parents, Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard Nelson, made them famous.
The Nelsons set a record for comic longevity, running for sixteen years. Ricky and his older brother David joined the show’s cast between 8 and 10.
During this time, Ricky attended Gardner Street Public School before moving on to Hollywood High School. He disliked school, which affected his relationship with his father, who wanted Ricky to attend college.
By the time he was the correct age for college, he was already generating more money than most established people. He didn’t need a college education because he made around $100,000 yearly.
When Ricky was 17, he appeared in the “Ricky, the Drummer” episode of his family’s show. As his debut single, he recorded and released “I’m Walking,” a song he performed on that show. It quickly soared to number four on Billboard’s Best Sellers list.
His popularity skyrocketed, allowing him to make frequent music debuts on his parents’ show before single releases. “Garden Party,” “It’s Late,” “Fools Rush In,” “For You,” “Poor Little Fool,” and “Traveling Man” are among the well-known hits.
Rickey first met Kristin Harmon in 1961. Kristin, who was also raised in Hollywood, had a similar upbringing. Her family and the Nelsons were also firm friends.
They married in April 1963. Their four children were Sam Hilliard Nelson, twins Matthew Gray and Gunnar Eric Nelson, and Tracy Kristine Nelson, an actress.
Ricky’s success soared during the 1960s as he consistently released Top 40 hits.
As a result of his famous song, which was part of the developing rock n’ roll genre, he embarked on multiple tours over the years.
Unfortunately, he died suddenly and mysteriously during one of these tours.
Ricky despised flying, even though he was frequently required to do it for promotions and tours. He went to psychotherapy sessions to feel better on the aircraft to continue his job and see his followers.
Nelson had planned to come to Dallas with his children, Matthew and Gunnar, for Ricky’s New Year’s Eve performance. However,
“On that trip, we were meant to be on the plane. Our father contacted us soon before we were set to fly to Dallas for the New Year’s Eve event.”
A few days before they were supposed to go together, Ricky called his sons and informed them that they would not be flying to Dallas together.
There had been rumors of engine problems on the flight Ricky was meant to take a few days before the trip.
Ricky boarded the DC-3 in Alabama without his two sons, and as the plane approached its destination, the cabin began to fill with smoke. Ricky and the other passengers were killed in the fire, but the pilot was able to land the plane in Texas safely.
The reason for the plane fire is still unknown thirty years later. Concerning the cause, there were numerous reports, including some obscene ones, about Ricky using cocaine with his old sweetheart Helen Blaine.
Ricky’s brother, David, fiercely refutes this theory, claiming that Ricky has never used cocaine.
Later, Ricky’s manager, Greg McDonald, verified that Ricky and Helen were also nodding off in the cabin when the fire started.
Ricky Nelson’s daughter, Tracy Nelson, later told Larry King that she believed a mechanical breakdown caused the tragedy.
Tracy disclosed that the aircraft, dubbed the “Flying Bus” due to its slow speed, had a history of problems with its fuel heater, which might easily have resulted in an accidental fire.
Thirty years later, the fire’s cause is still unknown, but Ricky Nelson’s forethought clearly helped prevent a worse family tragedy.
Ricky’s twin sons, Matthew and Gunnar, established their great music careers in memory of their father. Matthew explains:
“It’s a continuous work of love, an open letter to our closest friend, our father.”
Ricky, rest in peace! Let us know in the comments what you think of his life-saving insight.