Friday, August 10, 2007

Memories of T99

... by his manager, Nuri Nuri:
Most people remember Jimmy through his music and recordings, but I also remember him through the things I saw and learned from him in the years I was his close friend and manager.

Jimmy was a generous man, a proud man, and a peaceful man who did not like confrontations, and in the years that I have known him, he never got angry or raised his voice at anyone. He had a positive outlook on life and never hesitated to support anyone who needed his help. When Austin guitarist Alan Haynes was mugged and broke his arm, Jimmy sent him money, and when Sonny Rhodes needed help, Jimmy sent him money as well. Even the last time I saw Jimmy, the Sunday of the benefit for drummer Uncle John Turner, he wanted to send him money.

Jimmy loved to work in his garden and shared many gardening tips with me and others. He loved his roses and tomato plants and when he was not doing that, he was writing music. He wrote music day and night, on holidays and weekends. I used to tell him to take a break and let me take him out to dinner, but he insisted on staying home to write.

If you ever met Jimmy and sat to talk to him, you would know that he loved to tell stories. He told me stories about Ike Turner, Memphis Slim, Louis Armstrong, B.B. King, Percy Mayfield, Joe Turner, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Ivory Joe Hunter, and many more. He would give you a history lesson and take you on a musical journey that can only be shared by a person who lived it ... and after years of telling me stories, Jimmy finally admitted that he kissed Billie Holiday ... ON THE LIPS!

Jimmy loved his fans and insisted on personally staying in touch with them. He signed every photograph, book, or record, talked to every fan and made sure no one was left out. He once recorded over 30 holiday greetings that we mailed out to radio DJ's to play for their listeners. Even in his weakest state a couple of months ago, he managed to sign autographs for fans despite how exhausted it made him feel afterwards.

Jimmy never said goodbye, he said "so long" and I always liked that. He wanted people to visit him anytime and his home was open to anyone. A friend and radio DJ was happily surprised upon leaving Jimmy's house when Jimmy handed him a couple of personal items as a memento of their visit.

One of the things I remember about Jimmy is when I left his house he would walk outside the door to wave goodbye at me, much in the same way my own father and mother waved goodbye when I left their home [in Ramallah] to come back to mine here in the U.S. But the thing I remember and will miss the most about Jimmy is his amazing sweet laugh and his tender and gentle heart.

I will miss you Jimmy and will cherish every moment we spent together and every memory you left. God Bless You and may you Rest in Peace.

Nuri Nuri was Jimmy T-99 Nelson's long-time manager, and is a blues DJ on Houston's KPFT.

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