Born Sander L Nelson, in 1938 in Santa Monica, California, Sandy was one of the best-known rock drummers of the early 1960s. He had several solo instrumental Top 40 hits and was a session drummer on many other well-known hits. He released over 30 albums.
His first recording, with a band called The Renegades was "Geronimo." Although it flopped on the national charts, it charted in pockets of the Midwest. The song, along with "Charge," is part of the soundtrack of 1959 film Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow.
Nelson attended high school with Jan Berry & Dean Torrence, who became Jan and Dean. After gaining respect as a session drummer, he played on such songs as "To Know Him Is To Love Him" (Phil Spector's Teddy Bears, 1958), "Alley-Oop" (The Hollywood Argyles, 1960), and "A Thousand Stars" (Kathy Young and the Innocents, 1960).
His song "Teen Beat", on Original Sound Records, rose to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1959. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. He then "pounded out" two more Top 40 hits, "Let There Be Drums," which went to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Drums Are My Beat."
(Continued below videos and CDs and DVDs...)
In December 1961, the British music magazine, NME, reported that "Let There Be Drums" had gone Top 10 in both the US and UK.
Near the end of 1963, Nelson was in a motorcycle accident. The injuries necessitated amputation of his right foot and part of his leg. Nonetheless, Nelson continued to record into the early 1970s, releasing two or three albums a year, consisting of cover versions of popular hits plus a few original compositions.
|Sandy Nelson in 2007|
In September, 2008, Nelson and a few friends, recording as Sandy Nelson and the Sin City Termites, released a new record of original compositions, Nelsonized.