Rock drummer Nelson to share his music, stories

A music legend and Boulder City resident will be taking over the Forge Social House at 7 p.m. Friday, showcasing his music and recounting some stories.

Sandy Nelson, 76, is one of Boulder City’s most rhythmic, intellectual and eccentric — and enjoyable — residents the town has seen.

Nelson is one of the best-known rock drummers of the 1960s, yet his work is still relatively unknown around town, according to The Dillinger owner Grant Turner.

“He’s just one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met,” Turner said. “He’s so unique. People come into (The Dillinger) and see his picture on the wall and say, ‘Who’s that?’ People don’t know that he was a big-time dude.”

He’s perhaps best known for his song “Teen Beat,” which rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1959, ranking higher than the likes of Elvis and Frank Sinatra at one point.

The composition also finished at No. 36 on the Hot 100’s year-end rankings.

Nelson followed up “Teen Beat” with “Let There Be Drums,” which rose to No. 7 on the charts, making it acceptable for drum instrumentals to reach such heights.

The idea to have Nelson play has been ongoing for the better part of a year, according to Turner, who also owns the Forge Social House, 553 California Ave., where Nelson will perform.

The evening will begin with a performance from Jack Evan Johnson and end with the band Same Sex Mary, with Nelson sandwiched in between.


Tsvetelina Stefanova, a member of Same Sex Mary, said they wanted to create a forum where Nelson could tell some of his famous stories while playing some of his iconic beats.

“They wanted it to be Sandy Nelson Day, but I thought that was a little grandiose,” Nelson said. “Now it’s just drums and stories with me.”

Stories will be the majority of the show, as Nelson is gifted in the art of storytelling.

Then again, it’s hard not to be after spending over 50 years in the Los Angeles music scene.

“Sandy is a true entertainer at heart,” Stefanova said. “He’s got a joke or story for every occasion. We feel very fortunate to have become good friends with Sandy over the years.”

Nelson has stayed busy since his days in the music business, even putting out an album called “Sin City Termites,” available on iTunes.

After all that time, he said he still feels a little uncomfortable and nervous about performing, saying it’s “kind of odd” people want to pay to hear him tell stories.

“I tell stories all the time, every day. I just want to have a good time,” Nelson said. “I just hope everyone else does too.”

The night will be far from structured, as Turner says that’s just not how you put on a show with the likes of Nelson.

Turner and his father have known Nelson for years, and he said he’s looking forward to the turnout by the community. The all-ages show has a $15 cover charge.

“Don’t come in with any expectations, because we’re just going to give Sandy the keys and let him go nuts,” Turner said. “He’s just a trip. He lives his life differently than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s inspiring.”

Contact reporter Randy Faehnrich at or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @RandyFaehnrich.

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