August 7, 2009

Jimmy "T-99" Nelson

Jimmy Nelson was an American jump blues and rhythm and blues shouter and songwriter; he got his start singing in church. In 1941, he saw a performance by Big Joe Turner while he was visiting Oakland, California, and realized he wanted to sing the blues. Turner taught Nelson about singing, performance and the music business. Nelson, in turn, absorbed the shouting style of his mentor.

From 1951 through 1961, Jimmy Nelson and the Peter Rabbit Trio released eight singles with the Bihari Brothers' Modern/RPM label. The biggest of these was T-99 Blues (which referred to the old Texas Highway #99), which debuted in June 1951. It stayed on the US Billboard R&B chart for twenty-one weeks and reached number 1. In 1952, Nelson had another RPM hit with Meet Me With Your Black Dress On. He began touring, performing with bands led by Joe Liggins and Roy Milton, and playing venues including the Apollo and Howard theaters. He cut singles for a number of labels including Kent, Music City, Paradise and All Boy, and Chess. In 1955, Nelson married and adopted Houston, Texas as his hometown. For the next 20 years, he settled down and took a job working construction, though he continued to write songs and sit in with bands.

In the 1980s, Nelson came to the wider attention of blues fans when Ace issued ten of his sides on an album. Sweet Sugar Daddy, a compilation album from the Japanese P-Vine Records, which mainly consisted of unreleased studio recordings from the 1960s and 1970s, was also released in 1988. He resumed touring and in 1999, released a comeback album Rockin' and Shoutin' the Blues from the Bullseye Blues & Jazz label. This album was nominated in two categories of the W.C. Handy Awards the following year. Two more newly recorded albums followed on his own Nettie Marie label prior to his death, both featuring an all-star back-up band including Duke Robillard. In 2004, Ace released Cry Hard Luck, featuring re-issues of Nelson's Kent & RPM recordings from 1951-1961.

Nelson died of cancer at a nursing home in Houston on July 29, 2007.

Note
Jimmy Nelson's grave is presently unmarked. It is located beneath Yolanda Flanagan's and to the left of Robert Taylor's markers.

GPS Coordinates
29° 33.738, -095° 21.163

Section 19
Houston Memorial Gardens
Pearland

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