Saluting the artistic integrity of Rick Nelson 35 years after his shocking death

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Philip Bashe, author of “Teenage Idol, Travelin’ Man: The Complete Biography of Rick Nelson,” waxes nostalgic in his most comprehensive interview to date recalling the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s incendiary, albeit tragically cut much too short life and career. Seen here is a smoldering Rick Nelson leaning against a piano during a brief New York City sojourn circa February 23, 1981. The country rock purveyor can be heard tickling the ivories on “The Reason Why,” “Thank You Lord” and his rockin’ cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Women.” Photography by Lynn Goldsmith

The Complete Philip Bashe / Rick Nelson Interview

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A defiant Rick Nelson clutches his prized 1968 “Black Beauty” Gibson Les Paul guitar on the cover of “Garden Party,” a stunning comeback album [No. 32 POP] released on November 27, 1972 via Decca Records. Image Credit: MusicStack / Universal Music Group
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The cast of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” circa 1963. Clockwise from top are Harriet Nelson, oldest son David Nelson, Ozzie Nelson, and youngest son Rick Nelson. Image Credit: Museum of Broadcast Communications
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The cover of Ozzie Nelson’s autobiography, published two years before his June 3, 1975, death exacerbated by lung cancer. The “Over Somebody Else’s Shoulder” hit singer and orchestra leader was the spitting image of perfect health for most of his life until his death at only 69 years old. Image Credit: Ancestry.com
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Rick Nelson is soft spoken, buckskin-clad gunslinger Colorado Ryan in a still from director Howard Hawks’ classic western “Rio Bravo,” released to theaters on March 18, 1959, and costarring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, and Walter Brennan. Image Credit: Warner Bros.
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Fresh faces, indeed: Rockers James Burton, Rick Nelson, and bassist James Kirkland admire a cool Rickenbacker acoustic guitar in Hollywood. Nelson endorsed the rare model manufactured in April 1958. Image Credit: Premier Guitar Magazine
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He’s been gone too long: The vibrant album cover of “Ricky Sings Again,” released in January 1959 on Imperial Records and featuring lead-off single “It’s Late,” the B-side of “Never Be Anyone Else But You.” Written by Dorsey Burnette, the exuberant tale of a first date running past curfew climbed to No. 9 POP. Image Credit: 45Cat user Caseellerbroek / Universal Music Group
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Rick Nelson is captured whittling a wooden pig during the filming of “The Wish Book,” an October 22, 1961 episode of the long-running CBS dramatic anthology series “General Electric Theater.” Image Credit: NBCUniversal / Sitcoms Online
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A sleek, definitely handsome Rick Nelson is clad in a black T-shirt circa 1958. Image Credit: The Estate of Rick Nelson
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The sweat-inducing cover of “Country Fever”, Rick Nelson’s 15th studio album released April 12, 1967, on Decca Records. “Mystery Train,” Bob Dylan’s “Walkin’ Down the Line,” and Nelson’s own “Alone” are standouts. Still, the 12-cut LP bombed commercially. Image Credit: Universal Music Group
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The cover of “Rudy the Fifth,” released by Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band on October 4, 1971, via Decca Records. It barely scraped onto the Billboard Pop Albums chart at No. 204. Photography by Kent McCord [of “Adam-12” fame] / Universal Music Group
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With the Stone Canyon Band likely in the vicinity, Rick Nelson visits a Los Angeles liquor store with an installation of products linked to the November 1971 release of “Rudy the Fifth,” the 20th proper album attributed to the innovative country rocker. Image Credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images
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Three days before the release of his 22nd proper album — “Windfall” — strikingly sexy 33-year-old country rocker Rick Nelson performs at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on January 11, 1974. Photography by Julian Baum / RocknPics
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Two pals relax for a few minutes during the hectic years of their careers: David Nelson and younger brother-teen heart-throb Rick by their backyard swimming pool at 1822 Camino Palmero Street in Los Angeles, circa 1958. Photography by Gene Howard
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Circa October 31, 1985, Rick Nelson and blond, unassuming fiancé Helen Blair arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport for a European tour. The duo and five of Nelson’s backing musicians were killed just two months later on December 31 in a fiery plane crash. Image Credit: LostFlights.com / General Aviation Archaeology
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Still handsome and dashing at age 51, David Nelson flashes a winning smile on the set of his documentary, “Rick Nelson: A Brother Remembers,” which aired November 16, 1987, on the Disney channel. Photography by Nick Ut
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The cover of the long out-of-print “Teenage Idol, Travelin’ Man: The Complete Biography of Rick Nelson,” written by Philip Bashe and released in May 1992 via Hyperion. Image Credit: Hyperion Publishing
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In one of his final acting roles, Rick Nelson and cute costar Stacy Gold are captured while filming ‘A Tale of Four Wishes,’ a November 8, 1981 episode of the “CBS Library” anthology series. Image Credit: CBS / Steve Crum Memorabilia
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Philip Bashe, author of “Teenage Idol, Travelin’ Man: The Complete Biography of Rick Nelson,” grins widely at a Jericho Senior High School class reunion in Jericho, New York, with only child Justin Bashe, June 2011. Image courtesy of Philip Bashe

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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