This Man Is a Legendary Musician’s Son – He Called His Mom ‘Dragon’ & His Uncle Got Custody of Him

    Their son’s life fell apart after Ricky Nelson and Kristin Harmon split.
    Kristin ended up in a feud with her brother, Mark, who wanted custody of her son because of her incapacity to care for him properly.
    Ricky’s son later spent energy trying to rebuild his family’s legacy.
    When American singer Ricky Nelson died, his son was left alone with his mother, Kristin Harmon. At that time, Kristin was in an unstable position, struggling with drug addiction. Her brother, Mark Harmon, stepped in to help and tried to get custody of Sam while Kristin checked into rehab.

    However, the actor’s decision was met with resistance from his sister and resulted in a family feud. Years later, the Harmon siblings worked things out and agreed to seek professional help.

    Rick Nelson with his wife Kristin Harmon circa 1963 | Source: Getty Images

    Now, the musician’s son has been working on restoring his family’s legacy by bringing their famous show back to the screens. However, it has taken him a long time and much effort over the years. Here’s a background of his parents’ relationship.

    Kristin and Ricky’s Marriage
    Kristin met Ricky, the son of superstars Ozzie and Harriet, at 12 years old. At that time, he starred in his family’s sitcom, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.” Falling in love with Ricky came as a breeze, and when she turned 18 in 1963, the pair tied the knot.

    Kristin Harmon and Ricky Nelson at the Fifth Annual American Music Awards on January 16, 1978, in Santa Monica, California | Source: Getty Images

    Six months later, the couple welcomed their first child, Tracy, who appeared in “Yours, Mine, and Ours” and starred in “The Father Dowling Mysteries.” In 1967, Kristin gave birth to their second and third child, twins Gunnar and Matthew.

    Their fourth and last child, Sam Nelson, came in 1974. Kristin and Ricky lived happily with their children for some time but eventually got caught up in a partying lifestyle. “We were hippie rock ‘n’ rollers,” Kristin said in the ’80s, “We did what everyone else was doing all those years.”

    When their marriage became shaky, Kristin tried to be “one of the guys” and got involved with substance abuse, but she told her family when it became a problem. Sadly, she and Ricky ended their marriage in 1980. She ended up filing for divorce and was initially granted custody of their kids.

    Eventually, Ricky paid $4,000 monthly in child support and received joint custody. Before their divorce was finalized in 1982, there were accusations of substance abuse between the couple.

    Kristin Harmon and Ricky Nelson at London Airport on February 16, 1972 | Source: Getty Images

    At that time, Kristin took a job as an assistant casting director. Her sister, Kelly, would care for Sam every afternoon until the young boy lived with their parents for 18 months. Sadly, a few years later, her ex-husband died.

    Ricky Nelson’s Death
    In 1985, Ricky died tragically in a plane crash along with his fiancée, Helen Blair. The aircraft was bound for Love Field, Dallas, when it went down. There have been discussions about the cause of the crash, including a fire that began in the cockpit.

    Eventually, the court awarded Mark custody of Sam, while Kristin had a restraining order that kept her 200 yards away from her brother’s home and Pam’s work.

    A portrait of Ricky Nelson, circa 1960 | Source: Getty Images
    According to federal investigators’ suspicion, the fire was ignited because of substance abuse on the plane. Preliminary reports indicated the singer’s body had traces of unmetabolized substances. The pilot and co-pilot, who are both survivors, said a fire began in the passenger cabin.

    Ricky Nelson performs onstage at the Ritz in New York, on February 24, 1981 | Source: Getty Images

    They tried to land the plane as soon as they learned of the hazard. Neither of the two had traces of alcohol or drugs in their bloodstream. After several investigations, the National Safety Board investigators ruled out illegal substances as the cause of the fire. However, the actual cause could not be determined.

    Kristin’s Addiction Continues
    Following Ricky’s death, Kristin’s brother, Mark Harmon, urged her to enter rehabilitation for her addiction. She once shared:

    “Nobody but my brother could have talked me into this because I trusted him. A voice inside my head said, ‘For once in your life, let somebody help you.’”

    Mark Harmon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on April 22, 2009 | Source: Getty Images

    However, after her stay in rehab, Kristin found out that Mark and his wife, Pam, sought custody of Sam because of her substance dependency. Sam was 12 at that time. On the other hand, the preteen portrayed his mother as a scary woman and even compared her to a “dragon who wouldn’t let him see his other siblings or family members.”

    Sam found comfort and security staying with Mark and Pam while his mother was in rehab. The boy’s doctor, Gary Chase, revealed what Kristin’s son told him, saying:

    “It’s scary to be around someone on drugs.”

    In three interviews, he also revealed that Sam told him that he was “made angry by arguments from his mother induced by mood swings from her taking drugs.” The boy allegedly shared that his mother would sometimes be happy, asleep, furious, or on his case about something.

    Eventually, the court awarded Mark custody of Sam, while Kristin had a restraining order that kept her 200 yards away from her brother’s home and Pam’s work. The family’s feud continued alongside court hearings and accusations.

    Mark Harmon and Pam Dawber at American Film Institute Honors Gregory Peck on March 9, 1989 | Source: Getty Images

    One day, the actor told Kristin’s lawyer they no longer wanted the issue to persist. “Too much blood has been spilled,” he said. Mark and Kristin later worked out an agreement where she was given custody of Sam.

    The star, on the other hand, was granted visitation rights. Both also agreed to get professional help from a family therapist. Kristin’s son grew up well and even furthered his studies after high school.

    Sam Grew Up Restoring the Family Legacy
    Sam would later graduate from Boston College with a degree in psychology and restore the relationship he once had with his mother. In a 2016 interview, Kristin’s son said:

    “As you get older, things that were important aren’t important anymore. Problems aren’t problems anymore. You work through them, or you don’t. But for the most part, you hope to.”

    He inherited his father’s musical talents and interned at MCA Records. Sam later became a lead vocalist and songwriter for the band H is Orange. He also spent years restoring his family’s legacy by trying to get their show, “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” back on the screens, with him explaining:

    “I have spent the last 12 years of my life… working to restore and protect my family’s television show, ‘The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet.’”

    Mark’s nephew is proud of his efforts and revealed that he had the chance to win a Saturn Award as he had been nominated for his efforts. He has also started a Kickstarter profile to help raise the funds needed for the show.

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