Richard Nelson

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Biography of Richard Nelson

From the day that he first took piano lessons at the tender age of eight Richard Nelson was destined for stardom. He displayed great potential tinkling those ivories back then and when he purchased his first guitar at the age of twelve, Richard knew his heart was set on a musical career. During his early years it was his ambition to become an accountant and following qualification in that field, he was apprenticed to Price Waterhouse Chartered Accountants, Belfast. Waterhouse's loss was country music's gain and today Richard is one of the world's leading steel guitar players, firmly established in the Mick Flavin country band.

Born June 16th in Singapore, one of the most prosperous countries in Asia, his earliest childhood memories are not of his home-place but of the nearby beautiful state of Sarawak in Malaysia, where they had moved to when he was three years of age. Sarawak lies on the northwestern coast of the island of Borneo. His father was a doctor by profession and Richard has a vivid recollection of the three years they spent there and of the times they visited the city of Kuching, the state's capital, and also the occasions when they travelled up river by boat, going deep into the jungle from their home on the edge. Richard was six years old when he along with his family decided to return to Ireland, settling down in the beautiful green glens of County Antrim.

Influenced by the likes of Rory Gallagher, Jimi Hendrix and Django Reinhardt, the all-important musical breakthrough came in 1978 when he started doing sessions at Outlet Studios in Belfast for people like Anne Breen and Crawford Bell. Later that year he teamed up with Gloria of 'One Day At A Time' fame and in 1979 he joined forces with the afore mentioned Crawford Bell, an association that lasted the best part of ten years. He played with the Mary Duff band in 1990, Logue and McCoole '90-'92, Daniel O'Donnell '92-'01, Johnny Loughrey '01-'02 and as previously stated is currently strutting his stuff with the Mick Flavin band.

As a session musician Richard's talents are very much sought-after. He has played on over 200 albums over the years for artists all over Ireland. Many of the recordings he did with Daniel O'Donnell have entered the albums and singles charts in the U.K. He has also recorded an album of country songs called 'Storybook' and another album of steel-guitar and jazz tunes known as 'Moment's Notice' was released a few weeks back.
Richard is also featured on videos with Mary Duff, Daniel O'Donnell, Logue and McCoole and Brendan Quinn. Appearances on t.v. have also come by his way in the form of - 'Make Mine Country' on BBC, 'The Sandy Kelly Show' (two series), the Late Late Show on RTE with Pat Kenny, Glor Tire on TG4, and with Gloria Hunniford on UTV and BBC.

Foreign tours have also been part of his busy schedule with seven trips to Australia and New Zealand with Daniel O'Donnell and Mary Duff, three trips to the U.S. with Daniel and to Switzerland, Austria and Holland with Mary.

Richard has had many musical moments, the most memorable being - playing Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Albert Hall, Wembley Stadium with Daniel and Gloria, playing with the RTE Concert Orchestra, playing Jazz in JJ Smyth's of Dublin with the Phil Ware Trio and playing at the British and Irish steel guitar festivals.

The third Irish Steel Guitar Festival was once again held at the Europa Hotel, Drogheda on October 9th and 10th last with Richard being one of it's chief organisers. There, the Irish steel supreme rubbed shoulders with the world's leading steel players - Al Brisco, Pete Grant and Jim Cohen from the U.S., Sarah Jory, Gerry Hogan and Derek Thurlby from the U.K., Mark Horn from Germany, Nils Tuxen from Denmark, Percy Robinson, Ivan McLernon and Aidan Cunningham from Ireland.

George Langan, Dec '04.

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