1 The Muppet Mindset: Remembering Jerry Nelson, Part 1

Aug 25, 2012

Remembering Jerry Nelson, Part 1

Goodbye Jerry by Neil Whitman

Jarrod Fairclough - I was lying on the couch when I thought I would quickly check Facebook. The first image that greeted me was that of Jerry Nelson. I thought "What a nice picture to see." Then I saw above it the letters R.I.P. I'll tell you now; I was standing so quickly I genuinely don't remember getting up. I had to double check, and Twitter had just started talking about it. I was quick to tweet my sorrow through the Muppet Fan Problems account. I didn't know how to process this information. The first thing I did was grab my iPod and put "Follow Me" on repeat. It was impossible to comprehend–part of my childhood was gone. This large, vampire shaped hole had been ripped out of my body. So I filled it with a Fraggle. Here's what I did: go find a fellow Muppet fan and talk it out. I did it with this website's father, Ryan Dosier. The conversation started with just "Dude," "I know," etc. But then we knuckled down, and for a good couple of hours, we laughed about our favourite Jerry Nelson moments, some behind the scenes stories (some of which you'll read about soon), and Ryan went through his favourite moments from the interview he'd done. I was fortunate to be the test subject for Ryan's article on Jerry, and having someone to mourn with was a huge help. It was also great to be able to tweet about it to so many people, and to see hundreds of posts come through about it. I posted on Facebook, and people who had no idea who Jerry Nelson was were sending condolences. And I had to think–why did this man's death affect me so badly?

Jerry Nelson was The Count. Jerry Nelson was Gobo Fraggle. Jerry Nelson was Floyd Pepper, and Robin, and Camilla, and Crazy Harry, and Lew Zealand, and Sherlock Hemlock, and Herry Monster, and way too many more to count. This guy was my childhood. This guy had just as big an effect on me as Jim Henson, and suddenly, he was gone. I would never get to meet him and tell him how great he was. I wouldn't get to show him my Pa Gorg impression, or tell him about my friend's terrible Count impression. I wouldn't get the chance to tell one of my heroes that he was just that. He was the essence behind so, so many things that are important to me.

You know, it;s been sad, but here are some happier thoughts that I, and others, have said over the course of the last couple of days.
  • Listen to "Can You Picture That"–I can just imagine Jim, Richard and Jerry rocking out to that in the afterlife. The line "Hey Floyd, take a verse!" finally gets a response.
  • You just know Don Sahlin has met Jerry with a rubber chicken.
  • I hope the Mars Curiosity Rover picks up a little of Jerry's soul as it travels to its destination, and all we hear through the newest footage is “PIIIIIIIGS IN SPAAAAAACE”
  • Finally, a sad, but happy thought... Kermit and Robin. Floyd and Janice. Gobo and Cantus. Pa Gorg and Junior. Robin and Sweetums. They're all back together again.
Thank you Jerry, for everything that you ever did. Rest in peace, Jerry. I appreciate you more than I could ever say. "Every morning. Every day. Every evening. Calling me away."
 Untitled by Jason Tammemagi
Ian McCulloch - When I first heard the news of Jerry Nelson's death, I didn't know what to do with myself. I felt like crying, but no tears came forth, not until I told my family about the news and couldn't find a way to stop the tears from flowing. From The Count on Sesame Street, to the crazy characters he played on The Muppet Show, to the endearing performances of various Fraggles, Doozers, and one royal Gorg on Fraggle Rock, I grew up with Jerry. It wasn't until the past couple years or so when I learned who Jerry Nelson was and how much he played a part in all of Henson's productions. He truly was an amazing man who showed that you can have so much soul in a bassist, learnedness in a vampire, wisdom in a trash heap and, so much curve on a thrown fish.
He taught us how to count. by Ivan Guerrero 
Ian Ogelby - Jerry was a part of my childhood. Part of our childhoods. Losing a Muppet legend like this is very hard to describe. I was only four when Jim Henson died and I was very sad because I knew Jim was gone. I don't have any memory of when Richard Hunt died because, like with Jim's death, I was young but Jerry's death has hit me hard. It feels like losing a friend having grown up watching his characters. R.I.P Jerry.
 Thank You, Jerry by Christopher Smigliano

Nathaniel Downs - I never got to meet him, and I never sent a fan letter like I always wanted to, but Jerry Nelson had a bigger impact on me then most people ever could. He, along with Jim, Frank, Richard, Dave, and Steve, birthed my love of theatre. They shaped my sense of humor. They exposed me to jazz, opera, musical theatre, classical paintings, boomerang fish, and the joy of penguins. Whether he was playing Emmet Otter, The Count, Floyd, or one of the million one shot characters that he was so adept at playing, Jerry Nelson was an important part of my life. 
As I grew up and found myself in the world of theatre and acting, I realized that he showed me the joys of becoming a character actor, how to disappear into a character and become almost unrecognizable, an amazing accomplishment since you never actually saw him. He taught me how to riff off another actor, like the Two Headed Monster, Biff and Sully, or Sweetums and Robin. And, most importantly, he taught me to just have fun in life with whatever you are doing. 
I'll be forever grateful to all he gave me and thousands of others. Six decades of breathing life into felt dolls.  Three decades of impacting a life you never know you touched. God Bless you and thank you. 
 RIP Jerry Nelson by Dearth

Lucas Ross - I got in touch with Jerry just over 2 years ago. On a whim I sent him an email and he responded. We talked about bluegrass, banjos, and Fraggles. I couldn't believe I was actually conversing with one of the original Muppeteers. I can't say anything more than others, and while so many were very close to him, I feel so fortunate and lucky to have become acquainted with him. Thank you Jerry, for the greatness you brought to this world, in every stage of your life.
 No Counting Today by 14kevinarsenault

Joshua Gillespie - I heard that Jerry had passed away at 12AM and almost immediately I ran to my mom crying. I haven't stopped crying, it was like a friend and a major part of my childhood was gone. I was born after Jim and Richard had passed so this hit me extremely hard, I've watched Jerry my entire life, my favorite TV shows have always been Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, and I always loved Jerry's characters. All of them filled me with laughter. I'll never forget the first time I saw Lew Zealand, I was in tears I was laughing so much. I was born with a heart condition that required three surgeries to repair. Even at such a young age I demanded to see the Muppets, Jerry inspired me constantly and he gave me so much knowledge. Another thing that always amazed me was Jerry musical talent, especially his singing. When I hear him sing "Brothers" and "When the River Meets the Sea" I always start tearing up. Floyd singing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on The Muppet Show will always be one of my absolute favorites. Jerry made so many people happy, and I want to do the same. So thank you, Jerry, for inspiring me so much and changing my life. You effected the world in more than most can ever imagine to. You will be dearly missed by millions, and you will always have a place in my heart. Rest in Peace.
Petals of a Rose by meggyc

Ben Sinkora - This the first time any major performer died in my lifetime. I knew it would happen eventually since I am only 14 but I didn't think it would happen this soon. I am very sad to see him go. Lew Zealand was not just my favorite Jerry character, but my favorite Muppet. Now the Two-Headed Monster will have his other head. R.I.P Jerry.
Untitled by JD Hansel

Aaron Buitron - Jerry's work has been in my life for as long as I can remember. I remember watching The Muppet Show reruns on Nickelodeon and hearing his voice stand out in almost every musical number. His voice was so strong and distinct you'd know it anywhere. The one thought that keeps running through my head is how his voice never weakened, even after all those health problems that perfect announcer voice was the same as ever in last year's movie. I wish I could find more words to say what he meant to me but I'm finding it hard. Thank you Jerry. See you down the road a ways.
 RIP Jerry Nelson by ProboP

Anthony Mazzuca - I will miss Jerry Nelson and all the great characters he gave us. The Count is one of the best Muppets, he helps kids learn how to start counting and he is a great friend on Sesame Street. Who else can bring lighting out where ever he goes. I loved his "Batty Bat" song. Let's not forget Herry Monster and John John counting to twenty. I will always remember watching Fat Blue and Grover battle it out over service at the restaurant. One moment of Jerry's that stands out to me is when he played Robin singing "Halfway Down the Stairs." I am not the tallest person so I can relate to Robin on that level and when I was younger I used to sit on the stairs just thinking. I can really relate to that song and Robin. I also love the song "Just One Person." I tear up every time I hear it. I know we all will feel the loss of Jerry Nelson in more ways than one, but we have all these great memories to look back at and smile, laugh, and learn from.  
 Counting Bats by Joey Waggoner

Kyle Mahoney - Jerry, you started it all for me. When I first decided to watch Fraggle Rock all those years ago, you brought Gobo Fraggle to life for me, and from that one Fraggle came a world that I knew but had never dove deep into. When you were Gobo you created a REAL character that people could relate to, with strengths and weaknesses, flaws and real emotions. When you were The Count... well, you made counting fun. I never really was a fan of math or numbers, but you changed me. When you were Robin the Frog, you created a child among all that chaos, who was soft spoken and forgotten in the madness. Many children feel like that... but he was also silly, which is what the Muppets were really about. Then there was Floyd Pepper and Lew Zealand, such different characters on the opposite side of the spectrum, and yet still had your essence. Floyd with his cool-guy walk and Lew with his boomerang fish. They were perfect for you
Then there's Emmet Otter. You outdid yourself with him. Such a serious story, but such a humorous way to tell it. Jim Henson said your voice was so clear and so crisp, I’ll never forget that because its true. Goodbye Jerry, at least now you can see Jim and Richard. Tell them we say hi.
Petals of a Rose by zayathlana

A Poem for Jerry Nelson by Ken Priebe

His voice was rough as sandpaper,
Yet could be smooth as rock,
It went from a gentle whisper
To a screaming laugh or squawk.

He sang all styles of music
And sang them all so well,
Each ballad drifted from his throat
Just like a silver bell.

Yet as these tales in song were sung
With such amazing grace,
We saw so many sides of him,
But never saw his face.

He was a hipster bassman,
He was a little green frog,
He was a Scred who took advice
From the Great and Mighty Favog.

He was a hard-working otter
With a simple Christmas wish,
He was a guy who blew things up,
And another who threw fish.

He was a count who loved numbers
And a wise old heap of trash,
He was a Fraggle named Gobo
And a Skeksis, evil and brash.

He was all these wonderful creatures,
And all of these creatures were him,
We say good-bye and look to the sky,
Where he's up there jamming with Jim. 

The Muppets wish Jerry Nelson a Happy 65th Birthday








The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

2 comments:

  1. Very nice article many were reactions when I first heard that the Street's counting vampire and strong but soft monster had died. Well now Robin has Kermit and Sweetums. Floyd is back with Janice and Dr. Teeth, Fat Blue won't have to fear going to the resturant anymore, and the original Statler is back with the original Waldorf. RIP Jerry, you were always my favorite Muppeteer and inspried me with a couple of my cartoons with you Count. And thank you for also making my little brother laugh out loud with his favorite Muppets Herry and the Frazzle. Again thank yo Mr. Nelson

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  2. That Birthday sing is AMAZING

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