1 The Muppet Mindset: August 2012

Aug 31, 2012

Remembering Jerry Nelson, Part 3

78 Years of Mr. Jerry Nelson by AverageJoeArtwork

Josh Hankemeier I heard the news just before I started work that morning... "Jerry Nelson...1934-2012" No... Like many of you, I felt like a sledgehammer hit me in the chest. It was like May 16, 1990 all over again. "Dear God, no..." I whispered at the monitor. With every post I read about it, the hammer blows only increased. Jerry Nelson was gone. I read the posts until I couldn't take it anymore... fresh sets of tears turned the computer screen into a shapeless, glowing blob.

It was extremely tough to work that day. Like everyone else here, I loved Jerry too. I only met him through Facebook, but at least I was able to tell him how much Fraggle Rock meant to me and to thank him for all the wonderful songs, characters and all around positive influence he had on my life.  Jerry had this to say in response: "I'm glad you are still finding value in Fraggle Rock. Nice to have been a part of something that focuses on a tale of love, laughter, music, and symbiotic relationships and is still relevant to our selves."

I was lucky enough to receive Jerry's autograph in the mail once back in January 2000. What a great way to start the millennium! My only regret is that I didn't tell him about my wedding cake. My wife and I just got married on August 4th. The photographer hasn't gotten our photos done yet, otherwise I would've shown Jerry the picture of the cake. It was an exact replica of Ma and Pa Gorg's 513th anniversary cake from "Ring Around the Rock." It even had the PVC figures of Ma and Pa on the top. We chose it because of our love for Fraggle Rock... a masterpiece, and one of the most positive influences of our lives.

Also displayed at the wedding were photographs of those we loved and admired: those who were not present physically, but still beloved by myself and my bride. Among the photos of family members and loved ones who had passed away was a group shot of some of the main Muppeteers: Jim, Frank, Richard, Dave, Steve... and Jerry. Just minutes before I was wed, I glanced at their picture and silently thanked them all. Along with my family, the Muppets were a huge source of silly joy. Jerry was an important part of that.

Often things in the real world remind me of things in the Muppet universe. When I see construction workers, I always think of Biff and Sully. Any restaurant I am in, I smile if I see swinging kitchen doors with circular windows. I hear Fat Blue's frustrated cry of "WAITER!" in my head every time. The fourth stair outside my apartment complex isn't in the nursery. It isn't in the town. Finally, let's face it. Every single one of us Muppet fans who has heard thunder and lightning immediately thinks of the Count. I did just last night. A storm went through here and as the thunder rumbled outside, I said "Ah ah ah!" in my best Count voice. It was a reflex. I looked up at the churning sky and thought with a sad smile "Jerry's still counting."

There's more I could tell, but as the song says..."So much to say, foolish to try." Keep on counting up there, Jerry.  We miss you, we thank you and we love you.
 Goodbye Jerry Nelson by chricko

Benny Sheckner - Something that differentiates the Muppets from a lot of other puppetry is that the characters are beyond lifelike--they're soulful. In spite of their technically being inanimate objects, each and every one of them oozes humanity. Jerry Nelson brought the epitome of that soulfulness and humanity to each and every one of his characters. He came across as a man who wore his heart on his puppet sleeve. He knew both how to make the puppets emote independently, in character, and how to express his own emotions through them, while still remaining one of the most diverse performers in the history of the form. A truly uniquely talented man.

But on a more personal note, Jerry Nelson's characters have, for as long as I can remember, been my favorites. As a child, I related to the sweet, but also slightly sad nature of Robin. Snuffy was, and always will be, my best friend. Gobo's sense of adventure has made me a less inhibited person. And Floyd—my favorite Muppet of all time—will always have a special place in my heart. I can still remember seeing his iconic rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" for the first time. I remember, as a child, thinking that there was something greater going on on my television screen. It was the first thing to have an effect on me that could be described as profound. To this day, hearing Floyd's version of that song will bring a teardrop to my eye.

Jerry Nelson, there will never be another one like you. And while it's reassuring knowing that your legacy will live on because of that, it’s disconcerting knowing that we’ll never live in a world with Jerry Nelson ever again. I miss and love you, and will never stop thanking you for all of your contributions to my life.
 Leave Me Some Magic Jerry by TeriyakiOxO

Phoenix Alvarado - Ever since I was little I always thought the voice of Jerry's characters as comforting, like his characters were specifically talking to me. From The Count helping me count to Floyd Pepper singing about fishing with John Denver. Lately my little brother has took a liking to his awesome characters that we will all miss without his voice. One day I found a Sesame Home Video titled "Monster Hits" and he fell head over heals in love with Herry Monster and Frazzle. Just the other day my brother came up and told me that Herry Monster is his best friend and I couldn't help, but smile and be a little sad at the same time for I knew what had happened. Jerry, a man I never met in person or through email, has touched the heart of my sibling and probably many other kids and adults as well as me with his wonderful Muppets that will be missed. RIP Mr. Nelson and thanks for everything.
Thanks Jerry by Sash Waite

Emilio Delgado (Luis) and his wife Carole - We have been out west for most of August and were aware through emails of Jerry's failing health. Of course we have observed his health highs and lows and had hoped he would hang in there so we could visit with him upon our return east. 

It really is sad--but such a gift to have known and worked with a person as special as Jerry. His talent and humor was also equal to his humanity. We have enjoyed the bitter sweet pleasure of receiving mails from his close circle of friends and colleagues that have lifted spirits and produced some smiles in regard to his recent passing.  
We appreciate that Jerry Nelson touched a wide circle of people through his many talents--which we are all a part of.
Jerry Nelson & Floyd by Barbara Barac
Jim Lewis (Muppet writer) - I'm still reeling a bit and not sure I have anything profound to add to what's already been said. He was a gift--and one heckuva fun guy to hang out with. Like a Boomerang Fish, through his work, Jerry will always come back to us.
Count by Jon Esparza
Dave Hulteen and Jerome Green: Bang and Bump Tribute to Jerry Nelson

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

Aug 29, 2012

News Update: August 30, 2012

NEWS UPDATE: August 30, 2012

Last week, Grover stopped by ABC's Good Afternoon America to promote a new Sesame Workshop initiative called "The Partnership for Healthy Mouths and Healthy Lives." Grover showed up to brush his (lack of) teeth with a dentist, a bunch of kids, and the overly-perky show hosts. It's mostly the dentist talking about fairly boring things... but watching Grover try to brush makes it all worth it. I don't understand how to embed videos from Hulu at the proper point, but luckily our good friends at ToughPigs.com do! So head on over there to watch the video, and then watch the other video in which the hosts and Grover discuss I Am Big Bird!

New Muppet plush toys are now available at Toys R Us! Currently available are beanbag plush dolls of Kermit, Fozzie, Animal, and Gonzo for $7.99, medium sized dolls of Kermit, Gonzo, and Animal available for $14.99, and bendable plush toys of Kermit, Gonzo, and Animal as well. To the right is the adorable Fozzie beanbag plush, but you can find them all on ToysRUs.com.

This weekend in Atlanta, Georgia is the annual DragonCon fantasy convention! Guests at the convention this weekend include our good friends Peter Linz and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph as well as Heather Henson! If you're in the area, you should absolutely join in the fun. Below is a breakdown of the various panels that Peter, Leslie, and Heather will be a part of:
  • Friday, 4:00pm: The Muppets Screening w/ Peter Linz
  • Saturday, 11:30am: Puppetry for Children’s Television with Peter Linz and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph
  • Saturday, 4:00pm: Heather Henson: "A Daughter Remembers" 
  • Saturday, 4:00pm: Puppetry for TV with Peter Linz
  • Saturday, 7:00pm: Leslie and Lolly Make Stuff Up LIVE!
  • Sunday, 11:30am: It’s Time to Raise the Curtain... with Peter Linz and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph
  • Sunday, 4:00pm: Create-A-Puppet Workshop w/ Lolly Lardpop
  • Sunday, 7:00pm: Peter Linz Muppeteer
The annual Star Wars convention, Star Wars Celebration VI was held last week. Much like the Jedi Knights on Geonosis in Attack of the Clones, out of nowhere, Muppets appeared! (Congratulations, Ryan, that's the nerdiest thing ever said on The Muppet Mindset!!) During the Disney Parks panel at the convention, they revealed two new sets of upcoming Muppets/Star Wars figures! Amazingly, this series includes Bean Bunny as Wicket the Ewok and Uncle Deadly as Emperor Palpatine!! Check out the amazing pictures below!

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

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Jerry

Written by Ryan Dosier.


Performed by...
Jerry Nelson

First appearance...
The Perry Como Winter Show (1972) 

Most recent appearance...
The Muppet Show Episode 322: Roy Rogers & Dale Evans (1978)

Best known role...
Guitar player for The Country Trio; puppet representation of Jerry Nelson

Also known as...

Jerry is the guitar player for the Country Trio band, alongside Jim on banjo and Frank on bass. He first appeared with the band on The Perry Como Winter Show in 1972 where they performed "You Don't Mess Around with Jim." The following year Jerry returned to TV with the band on The Dick Cavett Show to perform the classic tune "Mamma Don't Allow."

Jerry and the Country Trio would later appear briefly in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence pilot in 1975. When The Muppet Show began in 1976, Jerry would make a few appearances both with the Trio and solo. His first Muppet Show appearance was with the Trio in perhaps their most well-known performance of "To Morrow" in Episode 105: Rita Moreno. In the song, Jerry took to the vocals with Jim. The Trio also performed "In The Summertime" in Episode 123: Kaye Ballard, but Jerry took a backseat to Jim's lead vocals, although he still got a few lines.

Jerry appeared solo singing in the backup for Paul Williams during "Old Fashioned Love Song." He would later play an Arab in the Spike Milligan episode of Season 3. Jerry's final notable appearance was in Episode 322: Roy Rogers & Dale Evans in Season 3 where he and Jim performed the song "Four Legged Friend" while atop a pair of cows. It should be noted that in this sketch Jim referred to Jerry as "Tex," but the name Jerry has stuck.

Jerry is not to be confused with Sesame Street's Little Jerry or Mr. Jerry. Little Jerry is, of course, the lead singer of Littler Jerry and the Monotones. Mr. Jerry is a kindly guitar player on Sesame Street whom Elmo says hi to in the TV special Families Stand Together.

The Muppets needed Jerry Nelson... Jerry was a Muppet representation of Jerry Nelson... point proven.

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

Aug 28, 2012

Truro Daydreams: Jerry Nelson's Best

Ryan Dosier - Jerry Nelson released his solo album, Truro Daydreams, back in 2009. One of the biggest regrets I have when it comes to The Muppet Mindset is that I never took the time to post a review of the album for Jerry Nelson to read. So here I am today to explore this album that has brought me hours of listening bliss. I'll delve deep into each song, all the while imploring you to go buy Jerry's beautiful opus for yourself for only $10 for digital download or $14 for the physical CD. 

"Alligators" is the album's opening track, and what an opening it provides. This song was destined to one day carry Jerry Nelson's vocals (obviously, since he wrote it) and he has never sounded better. The lyrics are incredibly fun and the way Jerry carries a word or sings a phrase is impeccable. What stands out the most on this song is just Jerry being Jerry. He is clearly overjoyed singing this song and it shows in the recording. The simple rhythm, the powerful lyrics, and Jerry's excellent vocal tones make the perfect opening to an exciting album. It keeps your ears glued and riveted so that you absolutely have to keep listening. "Alligators" carries a weight with its lyrics that is lifted by Jerry's upbeat performance. "All that alligator crap" is a rather somber idea in the sense of the song, but Jerry's delivery makes it fly with spirit.

"Little Red" is Jerry's take on the classic Red Riding Hood tale, so you know it's bound to be great... and it is. Jerry brings in Kevin Clash and Fran Brill to play the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, respectively. This is a much sillier song with lyrics and music to match. The horns in the background of this song are incredibly fun and clearly played with passion. Jerry's guitar playing and soulful, storied voice of the "narrator" in this song remind me of the old Warner Bros. cartoon shorts, and Kevin and Fran coming in periodically as their characters only enhance that. Someone should really set this song to animation. The results would be magic, although this song is pretty near magic already.

"Bumblebees" is a slower, lazy day piece that still retains Jerry's trademark musical sensibilities. The lyrics sing of nature and relaxing and exude coolness. For example... "The moon's climbin' high in a buttermilk sky, so fine don't it make you wanna shout?" Perhaps the most soulful lyric on the entire album is located on this track as Jerry sings "Cause life's a celebration, it's a dance of up and down. Get back, double your investment. You wear a smile and not a frown!" Although this song sounds slow, it is truly a celebration of life's little wonders that Jerry loved.

"Be Positive" opens with a lively trumpet riff that gives way to my favorite song on the album. It's part easy listening, part island music, all Jerry Nelson. "Negativity will make you go slow!" Jerry implores to us. This is an anthem of Jerry's upbeat nature, his always-smiling demeanor, and his penchant for fun. The music is lively, the lyrics are genuine, and Jerry sounds a bit like the Count as he sings, which always makes me smile. I think my favorite part of this wonderful song is the rhymes that Jerry comes up with. He rhymes change and rearrange, Roy and boy, and a string of four rhymes with slow, go, low, and know. It's not that these are revolutionary rhymes, but the way Jerry chooses to use them is amazing.

"Hoboken Honey" is Jerry's profession of love and admiration for his dear wife Jan. It's not your traditional love ballad, by any means, but it is still incredibly powerful. Jerry is honest and real and loving, calling his Hoboken Honey his "baby lamb" and a slew of other beautiful turns of phrase and sweet nothings. She thrills him day by day, she provides ecstasy and harmony. Jerry let's us in on his muse and gives us all hope that we can find our own Hoboken Honey. Based on this song, if everyone had the same sort of love as Jerry Nelson did for Jan, it would be a happier world.

"Zanzibar" is a song that harkens to hearing about someone's vacation, only Jerry tells us about his in the most riveting, passionate way possible. He sings of the nature and beauty and wonder of Zanzibar. Based on the lyrics, it seemed that Jerry was truly, infinitely happy when he vacationed here, and that alone makes me love this song. This is probably the song I return to least on Truro Daydreams, but every time I do I'm reminded of the power and silky sweet beauty that Jerry can bring to a song.

"Tides" is the most beautiful song on the album. The slow rhythm of pure Jerry Nelson and his acoustic guitar opens the ballad and sustains it throughout. "Everything is the way it should be," croons Jerry, and you feel that he truly believes it. I really can't even explain the power and beauty of this song, as it should be listened and experienced. Jerry Nelson evokes harmony and peace with delightful ease. I think this song shows Jerry's true spirit. He recognizes the ebb and flow of the tides, he understands that fate is fate and "everything is what it is naturally." This song seems completely natural to Jerry, for Jerry, and is Jerry.

"Noah's Ark" has Jerry calling on some Muppeteer friends again as Tyler Bunch, Stephanie D'Abruzzo, and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph join in the fun, providing harmony and silly animal noises throughout the song. Another fun, silly song in the vein of "Little Red" with Jerry's joyful lyrics lighting up the track. He uses the word bodacious, which just screams Jerry Nelson. This song is so much fun that it seems pointless to analyze it further. It's just a bouncy, delightful display of Jerry's charm and humor.

"Eye of The Storm" is the most personal song on the track as Jerry sings about friends and loved ones who have passed on after their time in the "eye of that storm." Yet, to anyone who doesn't know the history, this is not a somber song. Instead, it's just a powerful guitar-focused piece with Jerry's best vocals on the album. However, if you know who Jerry is, then the names Richard and Jim have so many other meanings. This song brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it. Not because it's inherently sad, but because hearing Jerry sing so powerfully about his friends Richard Hunt and Jim Henson is amazing. The song's most touching element is its final verse, dedicated to Christine, Jerry's daughter who died far, far too young. The deep sadness Jerry feels can be heard in his words in this, the album's best track.

"Get Yourself Free, Happy Little Song" closes Truro Daydreams on a shining note as Jerry segues beautifully from powerful tributes to the happiest track on the album. It's mostly just Jerry on his guitar singing his happy little song. It's hard not to forget about woe, as Jerry tells us, when listening to this. "It's always darkest before the dawn, but dawn a big grin and carry on and let the silver lining come shining through" is what I always take away from this song. Jerry wants everyone to free themselves from sadness, sing a little happy little song, and remember what a great life we live. In light of recent events, this has never been more meaningful.

In conclusion, you should really, really buy this album. Not only is it filled with ten incredible tracks from an amazing singer, songwriter, and human being, but it is the perfect representation of Jerry Nelson. His essence, life, spirit, and soul shine through on this album of his personal songs. Jerry's lyrics are poetry and his music is beauty itself played out through instruments. Go buy this album. You won't regret it.

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

Aug 27, 2012

Passion and Purpose: The Characters of Jerry Nelson

Ryan Dosier - We've all be thinking so much about Jerry Nelson over the past few days. Personally, I've been listening to his music almost nonstop and reading testimonies and seeing pictures of my hero Jerry Nelson all over the place. But one thing that I avoided doing until just last night was watching my favorite of Jerry's performances. I didn't know if I could watch Floyd Pepper or Count von Count or Gobo Fraggle or any of the other hundreds of characters that were and are Jerry. But I am so glad that I did.

Put in any episode of any season of The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, or Fraggle Rock... watch any Muppet film, TV special, or project that Jerry worked on, and you're treated to something magical. You'll discover just how omnipresent Jerry Nelson was. No, none of his characters ever reached the heights of Fozzie Bear or Animal, but the sheer number of characters that he performed--and performed incredibly powerfully--is mind boggling. For instance, in the Madeline Kahn episode of The Muppet Show alone, Jerry performs a yodeling clam, a lobster bandito, Dr. Strangepork, Doglion, and Floyd. You can't overstate how incredible that range is.

What amazes me the most isn't the quantity that Jerry performed, but the unbelievable quality of life which he breathed into any character he was given. Take, for example, one of The Muppet Show's most random characters: Lew Zealand. As a boomerang fish thrower, this clown of a character could have easily been used for one episode and never reused, much like countless other characters before and after Lew Zealand were. Instead, Jerry Nelson performed with such verve and hilarious passion that Lew Zealand continued to appear throughout the run of The Muppet Show and has appeared in a speaking part in every single Muppet feature film, always with a boomerang fish and a goofy laugh.

In a way, the same story applies to Jerry's most popular and well-known character, Count von Count. The Count was written for Sesame Street as a new character in Season 4, but it was obviously because of Jerry that he sprang to popularity. Whether it be the passionate way which he counted everything or the legendary "Ah! Ah! Ah!" that accompanied each count, Jerry's performance brought the Street another glorious character. Again, the Count never became as popular as wildly popular as Elmo or Cookie Monster, but because Jerry imbued him with life for 40 years, the Count remains one of the greatest characters on the show. Not only does he teach millions of children their numbers, but he does it with a passion and pride that makes children want to count with the Count.

This is what Jerry Nelson gave to his characters: purpose for the viewer to enjoy the character and purpose for the character's life. Look at Marjory the Trash Heap, Jerry Nelson's hilarious and brilliant oracle character on Fraggle Rock. Undeterred by being literally a pile of junk, Marjory still exploded with passion in every scene she was in. To the viewer, she was an all-knowing giver of valuable advice such as "Do stuff you've always done before," "Don't cry over spilled milk," "Go with the flow," and, of course, "You cannot leave the magic." But Marjory herself had purpose as a character thanks to Jerry, whose performances exuded such pride in her work that it was clear that Marjory enjoyed helping Fraggles with their troubles, pain, and woe. Plus, her singing voice is dynamite, as with all of Jerry's characters.

Gobo Fraggle was Jerry's first lead character on a series, and he took the role with as much greatness as you would expect. Gobo was smart, stubborn, proud, meek, caring, selfish, and everything in between. Jerry gave such emotion to Gobo in so many different performances. Songs like "Shine on Me," "Petals of the Rose," and "Once Upon a Time I Knew My Name" show Gobo's somber, tender side. "Get Goin'," "I Knew I Was Good," and "Catch the Tail by the Tiger" display Gobo at his most proud. Perhaps my favorite Gobo episode is "The Bells of Fraggle Rock." In this perfect piece of television, Gobo knows that he is right about the existence of an actual Bell of Fraggle Rock, even when Cantus implores otherwise. Gobo is wrong, of course, which makes him realize that he has doomed his friends. The beauty of Jerry's performance when Gobo sees his frozen friends is unmatched as he shows Gobo go from cocky to heart broken in a matter of minutes.

This is why Jerry was chosen so often to perform so many characters. He imbibed them with more than heart... he gave them soul and purpose and meaning. Whether through Herry Monster's tough exterior but gentle demeanor, Sherlock Hemlock's undying commitment to solve mysteries (no matter how inept he was), Emmet Otter's love of his Ma and his reluctance to put a hole in that washtub, Crazy Harry's explosive reflexes, Pa Gorg's love for Ma, Angus McGonagle's goal of spreading the art of gargling Gershwin, Robin the Frog's desire to be seen and to be taken seriously ("They Call the Wind Maria," anyone?), Mr. Johnson's refusal to eat at any other restaurant... Jerry's characters were all real and existed for everyone who watched them on screen.

No other character explains Jerry Nelson's brilliance at giving life to a puppet than my personal favorite, Floyd Pepper. Floyd does not need anything more in his life than music. He's hip and smart and understated while still being an over the top Muppet. Watch how Jerry makes Floyd react to things while around other characters and you'll be amazed at how alive he truly is. The episode where he is charged with babysitting Miss Piggy's dog, Foo-Foo, is not only hysterical but speaks volumes about the character. Fed up with the pampered pooch, Floyd stuffs Foo-Foo in a drawer with that perfect raspy laugh. This isn't to say that Floyd doesn't care about other people, he just thinks that people who care too much are funny. That's why he laughs at Gonzo's stunts, Fozzie's attempts at assertiveness, and everything Miss Piggy does.

Interesting that Floyd should laugh, however, because it can be argued that he cares the most about what he loves. His music is an act of passion always. The soulful way he performs his greatest pieces such as "New York State of Mind," "Blackbird," and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" show us that Floyd (and Jerry) is at his most passionate when he is alone with his bass and simply emoting through the music. Everything you need to know about Floyd can be appreciated in the album version of "New York State of Mind." Before the song, Floyd states, "Hey, the frog is not around. Time to lay down some serious sound." Floyd enjoys messing with people, like the frog, but he is always looking for an outlet to play his music and express himself so powerfully.

Jerry's characters stand out for so many reasons. They are funny, they are fun, they are crazy, they are loud, they are soft, they are giant piles of trash, they throw boomerang fish, they cause explosions... but to me, the reason Jerry Nelson's characters stand out is because they are all so fully realized and dynamic. Jerry Nelson brought versatility, personality, and passion to his characters every time that he performed, leaving the world with countless hours of some of the best character acting work of all time.

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

Aug 26, 2012

Remembering Jerry Nelson, Part 2

Sailin' through the eye of that storm by Ryan Dosier

David Hosay - I have no memory without having Jerry in my life. His characters from Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock entertained, educated, and inspired me. I listen to his voice almost every day: Muppet music, his Truro Daydreams album, or his spoken word on the "It's Not Easy..." audio book. Why? His voice is like listening to an old friend. One that has been with me for 36 years. His songs were a constant reminder to appreciate the world around me, have fun, and never stop dreaming. When I made the high school chorus, I would listen to Jerry and try to mimic him, as he was my idea of the perfect tenor.

Last year I got to fulfill a dream of creating and performing a puppet character for a series of commercials for a local furniture store. When looking for the voice, I started with Jerry's weasel character from Emmet Otter and just repeated in my best Jerry impression, "Me and Chuck don't wanna go to no dumb music store." It began there with the New York accent, then I tried to make it sound more like me, but with Jerry's edge.We were fortunate to be nominated for an Ohio Valley Regional Emmy award for "Best Commerical Campaign." During the ceremony, I thought of all the people that influenced me in my life that brought me to the moment of being a regional Emmy nominee for writing, producing, and performing for a puppet. Jerry was at the forefront of my mind all that weekend. He was my inspiration through the whole process. I wanted so badly to thank him for it.

My wife and I have three children, ages 8, 5, and 2. Just like Robin realized in "Just One Person", there are people that believe in them and they can do important things when they believe in themselves. Just like Gobo learned from his uncle in "Follow Me", they can explore the possibilities that life offers, make their own paths, and invite others along the way for the fun. My kids sing Jerry's songs and they will believe the same way I did. I could just tell them all that good stuff, but it's more fun and memorable when it's Jerry's songs. Remember what Jerry says, "Be Positive!" This morning, for some reason, my daughter, Piper picked Gobo to want to take with her to the sitter's. I told her Gobo's friend, Jerry Nelson, died last night. She hugged Gobo tightly to comfort her friend.

I loved Jerry very much, although I never had the opportunity to perform with him, meet him, or even personally thank him. His performances will forever be an inspiration to me and my family. Without Jerry, it isn't the same... Fortunately he and his work lives on through those that are left to carry the torch.
 Jerry Nelson 1934-2012 by Nickyle Edwards

Matthew Drapper - Jerry Nelson's Muppet characters existed for the pure, unadulterated LOVE of the things they do. Uncle Deadly loved the threatre, The Count loved to count things, Floyd lived to play guitar and sing, Lew Zealand loved to throw the fish away and they loved to come back to him, Crazy Harry just loved to blow things up. Follow his lead. Love everything that you do and do everything that you love with every ounce of life that you have in you. I did not meet Jerry Nelson, but he impacted my life. I feel sad for all those who were close to him, because if I miss him this much I know they must miss him so much more. They must know, as we do, that his work will continue to impact every generation. 
 The Count by cinemawhirpool

Hilarie Mukavitz - I think for those of us that have had the Muppets in our lives since our early childhoods, there is an important rite of passage. When we are really little, we think that there is some magical place where the Muppets walk and talk and live their lives. For me, Toronto will always hold a big of magic because in my mind, that's where Fraggles come from. When we got a new neighbor named "Ralph" I was really hoping that it was Rowlf the Dog that lived next door.

However, then we come to a point where we realize behind (or under, really) every Muppet is a human being. I, like many of you, got obsessed with figuring out which Muppeteer played which character. I pretty quickly could identify the Jim Henson and Frank Oz characters, but I remember my jaw dropping when I saw which characters were played by Jerry Nelson. I was floored that the Count, Crazy Harry, Floyd, Robin the Frog, Gobo Fraggle, and Marjorie the Trash Heap were all played by the same person.

Jerry was also one of the most musical of the Muppeteers. A lot of his vocals, particularly as Floyd Pepper with the Electric Mayhem, would stand up to any band. Such as when he sang "New York State of Mind" or "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover" with fellow musical Muppeteer Richard Nelson.  When he did a duet of "In the Good Old Summertime" with Pearl Bailey, it was a meeting of equals. Jerry further displayed his musical talent on his solo album "Truro Daydreams" featuring his own compositions.  

Jerry Nelson was also the "rock" in Fraggle Rock. Initially, Jerry liked the character of Boober best. But Jim wanted Jerry to play Gobo the leader, and I got the sense he did that both on camera and off. Gobo, like so much of Fraggle Rock, was deceptively simple on the surface, but really a rich, complicated character. While he was a good happy-go-lucky "When's lunch?" Fraggle, he also struggled to find his way in the world. He traveled to exotic places (like Doc's Workshop) faced down fierce monsters (like Sprocket) and even clashed with friends and family members in his ongoing quest to understand the world around him.

Thank you Jerry. Our lives are so much richer because you have been a part of them. Now, as a proper Fraggle, I think I'll do some honky tonk grief and Dixie Wailin' as I mourn you.
 Two Lost Souls... by Gavan Sullivan

Jeni Rizio - Today, like many other Muppet fans, and as a sort-of acquaintance, I was crushed to read of Jerry's passing. In 2002, I met him on the set of Sesame Street. They were taping the "Cookie Hood" episode. I first spotted Jerry off in the distance and we exchanged glances in passing. After they taped the bit, I had the pleasure of meeting him in the Muppeteers' dressing room. I told him who I was, and that I was a friend of Caroll Spinney's.

We talked a little bit about my previous, failed attempt to connect with him via email, and he told me that his computer was in the shop at that time, or that it was inaccessible to him for some reason. I also told him that I enjoyed his work and that I was glad to finally meet him. I got the impression that he was a lot more shy and reserved than some of the other people on the set. My only regret is that I did not get my photo taken with him, as my camera had just run out of film. It was a rewarding experience to meet someone whose work meant so much to me all my life, to say the least. The image will stay in my mind forever!

We became Facebook friends over the past few years. When I found out that he went into the hospital, I sent him a private message on the Facebook site, letting him know that I was thinking of him and that I hope he gets feeling better soon. Sadly, I never heard back and he did not get better. I hope that he at least had a chance to read my message.
Untitled by Ceris Thomas
Ceris Thomas - We knew this day was coming, as Jerry Nelson's health had been in decline, but as Muppet fans, we enjoy a sense of fantasy, whimsy and denial of things "sensible," so, I think, many of us decided that this day was still a long way off. Or we hoped it was. Waking up that morning was tough. I didn’t have foreknowledge of any sort. I hadn't stayed up late and heard the news. When I went to my computer and saw, well, tears sprang to my eyes.

It’s not the same as when Jim died. Then, I was in denial and anger. (In a way, I still am in denial and anger... but...). Today was profound grief. Today is the loss of a great, gentle, and supportive talent who was suffering and didn't deserve to do so. Jerry was ill. And now, he's not. I'm happy about that, but I'm sad for the cure to his illness. I'm sad for his close friends and family. I'm sad for the Sesame Street Gang and the Muppeteers who will feel this loss so keenly. If I am feeling this loss, I can only imagine their woe at this time. I'm happy for his fans. His many, many legions of fans, who don't even know they are his fans. These people still have hours and hours and hours of recordings to enjoy. At least he was able to continue to work to a decent time in his life. I wish he could have continued longer.

I will revel in the sharing and the celebration. I will remember and rejoice that we were so lucky to share his genius. I will research, repost and reblog to keep his memory alive. This won't be difficult, as he left us so much to enjoy. I will continue to follow and create and share joy, because it seems that's what Jerry did best. I am humbled to have been entertained by this wonderful person. I am profoundly sad that he has gone on to another adventure. I am extremely grateful that he left us some of his magic. I am inspired.
 Jerry Nelson by Brian Knatchbull

Michael Wermuth, Jr. - Jerry Nelson was a great Muppet performer. Some of my favorite characters of his include Herry Monster, Biff, Pa Gorg, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Scred, Louis Kazagger, and Fleet Scribbler. Jerry Nelson most likely holds the record for the biggest number of Muppet characters he performed, but I must say that he gave pretty much all of his characters perfect-sounding voices. It was great hearing his vocal cameo in The Muppets last year. He will be missed.
 Thanks for letting us Count with you, Jerry by anad

Lara Frazier - I don't remember Jim Henson dying. I knew he was gone, I think. I remember watching The Jim Henson Hour and thinking how amazing Jim was, how friendly and how great getting a hug would be from him. And how awesome that white lion was. Death usually brings awareness and appreciation. Either to someone's work, or life in general. A lot of people say that the dead deserved to know, while they were still living, how much they were loved. We're lucky, us fans, because I'm sure Jerry knew. We don't have to worry about that. I think we'll see a lot of the Count in the coming days, and I hope we can appreciate that a lot of people will discover, even if it's only for a three minute news blurb, the man that we all knew was there the whole time, just below frame.

My favorite tiny memory of Jerry is a personal one. I never got to meet him but I did direct message him on Twitter when I discovered he had one. I asked him a question and he answered, though he didn't know the info I was looking for. I thanked him anyway. "You're welcome, sunshine." He replied. Jerry Nelson called me "sunshine." And no, I will never stop telling people that. Not for as long as I live.

Jerry was a fantastic and moving performer, a terrific singer and someone that I will never, ever forget. He was the best smokey voiced ex-beatnik and the sweetest six year old frog. From all wise and all knowing pile of trash to a Fraggle who thought he was pretty wise and really cunning, and was usually kicked down a peg by the end of the episode... but boy did he have some groovy hats.

But most of all, best of all, Jerry Nelson was cooler than you. And that was awesome.
Jerry Nelson: Rainbow in the Sky by Delta-Shout

Beth Kondrick - I got back into Fraggle Rock right around the time I graduated from college--starting a new adventure and feeling so unsure of life--I related so much to Gobo Fraggle and the new chapter he began at the beginning of the series of Fraggle Rock. I attribute so much of Gobo's relatability to how Jerry performed him. He brought this character to life that resonated with me so much--facing adventure, unsure, yet a wisdom inside. There were so many layers. It was all Jerry.

My other memories of Jerry that I will never forget are of him singing "Halfway Down The Stairs" at Jim Henson's funeral and then of hearing his voice in the the new Muppet movie... it gave me chills both times and will forever. I'll never forget his kind soul and his connection with his fans.
Tribute to Jerry Nelson by Mr-R0bby-R0b

Andrew Smith - After waking up this morning and logging on to my Macbook, the news of Jerry Nelson's passing hit me like a shovel to the face. Listening to "When the River Meets the Sea", I wept. That voice. That voice.

I'd always hoped to talk with Mr. Nelson, but never had the chance. I regret this not for the questions I will never ask him, but for the declaration of admiration, love, and respect that I will never be able to relay. Still, he must have known; we all felt the same and many of us did have the chance to thank him.

In tribute to Jerry, I pulled what few strings I have and got "Halfway Down the Stairs" played on local BBC radio. It wasn't much of a gesture, but it was nice to hear Jerry's voice alongside the likes of Elvis Presley, Jake Thackray and other soulful musicians. I didn't know the man, but I think he would have liked that.

Goodnight, Mr. Bassman.
One Voice Harmony by Nothin' Bunny

Chris Stulz - I had the pleasure of meeting Jerry Nelson in 2001 at Muppet Fest! in Santa Monica, Ca. I'll never forget walking through the exhibit of Muppets and turning around to see Jerry just hanging back in the corner watching everyone enjoying the artistry that went in to the puppets themselves. I quietly walked over and talked with him for a few minutes as he signed my copy of Jim Henson: The Works. He was just so gracious and happy to have the immediate fan feedback that the Muppeteers don't get very often. We will miss you Jerry Nelson.
Halfway Down the Stairs by Diana Leto

Patrick Cotnoir - Who taught you how to count? Your parents? Maybe. I think that a strong argument could be made, however, that Jerry Nelson did. I was introduced to Muppets early. I mean early. They have been a presence in my life for literally as long as I can remember, my grandma had kept my aunts Muppet memorabilia from when she was a child growing up in The Muppet Show heyday of the 1970s and I played with them every week when I visited their house. I wanted to work with the Muppets, I wanted to be a Muppeteer. Seems like a strange career choice for many, but it was what I wanted (and still want a little bit inside).

Growing up, we would visit Cape Cod each year, visiting beaches and lounging in the sun. One year, there was an article in the Cape Cod Times about Jerry Nelson, the man behind Count von Count, having visited a local library and talking to the crowd about working with Henson throughout the years. I was very upset that we had missed it. Somehow, my dad managed to get Jerry on the phone. I have no idea. I'm sure he was probably in the phonebook, not being a household name, he probably was not bothered much. I remember him talking to me about career aspirations, what I wanted to do, what I liked to do and gave me advice that if it was really what I wanted to keep it up and someday, I may be working with him.
I was over the moon. I had just spoken with one of my heroes. An icon that literally had shaped my childhood (and life since then). I was overjoyed. I later wrote Jerry a letter and sent it to him. He sent it back that same week, answering any and all questions I had about literally anything. It was amazing. Having that much contact with a man who meant that much to me gave me hope that, maybe, someday I could work with him and do what I wanted to do most at the time.

Cut to 11 years later: I have an internship at Sesame Street. Literally working on the Street. I would spend extra hours at work after I was supposed to be done, just hanging around, watching them film. It was a dream come true and I was so happy to be in the presence of people that I admired so much. And then Jerry Nelson showed up. I had never met him. I had never seen him in person. He was there to do live voice-over reading for the Count. He would sit off to the side and do the voice while Matt Vogel would puppeteer. It was amazing to see him with such charisma and energy. Jerry had been sick for years with various cancers and emphysema and required the use of an oxygen tank now. It did not seem to slow him down as he could still do the character's voice as if it was still 1970. This man had been doing the same characters for over 42 years. That is amazing. The amount of children across the WORLD that he had impacted cannot be measured.

I sat and watched him perform for a very long time. I probably should have been doing other things, but I knew that this was special. It was rare that he was in the studio in the first place and to see him doing, arguably, one of his most famous characters was a once-in-a-lifetime thing that I could not pass up. From what I can tell, this was probably Jerry's last performance as the Count and possibly his last performance with the Muppets in general. The idea of me seeing Jerry's last time doing both of those things is mind-boggling to me. I grew up memorizing his work, studying it and learning so much from him. To see him doing this for the last time is an amazing thing that I will never, ever forget. Many people would have killed to be in my position; to see Jerry perform EVER would have been an honor. I am still blown away that after all these years, he continued to put in 110% into work

I will never forget Jerry Nelson and all that he meant to me. He is my hero and he should be yours too. Rest in Peace, Jerry. Thanks.

"Halfway Down the Stairs" Tribute Video by Mike Slawinski

Thank You, Jerry Nelson by James Hance

From the bottom of the hearts of Muppet fans all around the world, whose lives you changed for the better, we thank you, Jerry Nelson.

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

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
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