Twins Gunnar and Matthew Nelson open up to Closer Weekly about their dad, Ricky Nelson, and tell the magazine he still inspires them to this day, over 30 years after his tragic death.

After a 1985 gig, Gunnar and Matthew, then 18, had a meaningful talk with their father, Ricky. “He’d come to see our show,” Gunnar tells Closer of the 2 a.m. chat with the former Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet teen idol.

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“Out of the blue, he said, ‘I not only love you as my sons, but I admire you as my peers.’ Coming from our dad and our musical hero, that was a defining moment.”

Just a month later, Ricky, then 45, died in a New Year’s Eve plane crash on his way to a Dallas concert. “I don’t know if he had a premonition or what,” Gunnar says of that fateful heart-to-heart, but he and Matthew, 50, still use their father’s words as motivation to pursue their dreams — and his.

Along with touring in support of their own music, the twins do special Ricky Nelson Remembered concert dates, performing his hits and honoring his legacy. “It’s an ongoing labor of love, an open letter to our dad, who was our best friend,” Matthew tells Closer.

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