Saturday, Jul 01, 2017
May 31, 1951 - June 22, 2017
James Albert Nalls III - May 31, 1951 – June 22, 2017
It is with the saddest and heaviest of hearts that we announce the death of longtime Nashville resident – and one of rock and blues greatest guitarists – Jimmy Nalls, He died as a result of complications from his valiant 22-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease and multiple injuries sustained in a fall at his home on Thursday, June 22, 2017. He was 66 years old.
Mr. Nalls’ incredible run as a world-class guitarist began in 1970, when he moved from the suburbs of his home in Arlington, Virginia, to New York City to play with Australian folk singer Gary Shearston and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary. Mr. Nalls quickly became an in-demand session guitarist at New York’s famed Record Plant studio, and played with several musicians and bands with ties to then up-and-coming Capricorn Records in Macon, Georgia. As a result, Mr. Nalls moved to Macon in 1976 and joined three musicians who’d just parted ways with the Allman Brothers Band – keyboardist Chuck Leavell, bassist Lamar Williams and drummer Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson. Together, the four musicians formed the jazz-rock supergroup Sea Level, and over a six-year period recorded five highly-acclaimed and influential albums and toured the world non-stop, building a loyal following that still exists today. After Sea Level, Mr. Nalls continued his distinguished career by playing guitar with a who’s who of bands and musicians, including Dr. John, Gregg Allman, Bill Anderson, The Nighthawks, T. Graham Brown, Don McLean, Jack Pearson, Lee Roy Parnell, Lloyd Price, Charly McLain, among many others. Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 1995, Mr. Nalls recorded and finished his first solo record, Ain’t No Stranger, in 1999 – earning him high praise and critical acclaim from both the media and his peers. He toured sporadically, but his struggles from Parkinson’s began to affect his everyday life. Despite these challenges, Mr. Nalls and longtime friend and collaborator, blues artist Dave Duncan, began to write and record music for his second solo record. But though he tried to work through the hindrances posed by the continued onset of Parkinson’s, Mr. Nalls ultimately was unable to finish the record, and all of the songs remained in various stages of completion on his home studio’s computer hard drive until 2014.
In late 2014, Mr. Nalls shared his unfinished songs with good friend, Gabriel Hernandez, owner of Nashville’s Blues Vintage Guitars, Inc., who in turn brought the songs to their mutual friend and longtime Nashville luthier, Joe Glaser. After listening to the unfinished songs, Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Glaser hatched a plan to move forward and complete Mr. Nalls unfinished second record using their mutual musical connections and friends. On that day in late 2014, The Jimmy Nalls Project – a collection of new songs now available at https://www.jimmynallsproject.com/ – was born. The songs are the product of nearly three years of collaborative efforts between Mr. Nalls’ closest friends and some of Nashville’s – and the world’s – finest musicians, engineers and producers. Many are winners of multiple Grammys and other awards, and all freely donated their time and talents to the project. As such, 100 percent of the proceeds from the The Jimmy Nalls Project will go directly to his immediate family, and will be used to help pay off his long-outstanding medical bills, and help offset the costs of his funeral and memorial services. The new music is available worldwide RIGHT NOW via iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and many other platforms. You can also buy the music directly at https://www.jimmynallsproject.com/. The all-star lineup for this incredible musical alliance includes Joe Bonamassa, Larry Carlton, Robben Ford Music, Warren Haynes, Jack Pearson, Dave Duncan, Johnny Hiland, Chuck Leavell, Brad Whitford, JD Simo, Jimmy Hall, Buddy Greene, Dave Pomeroy, Kenny Greenberg, Charles Chopper Anderson, Wes Little, and Brian Allen. Other award-winning producers, engineers, musicians and friends who also lent their time and skills include Ray Kennedy, Gary Nicholson, Lee Roy Parnell, Guthrie Trapp, Rick Wheeler, Brent Maher, Tom Freitag, Zack DeWall, Gordie Johnson, Jacob Sciba, Gary Belz (The House of Blues), Gabriel Hernandez (Blues Vintage Guitars, Inc.), Joshua Rawlings and Joe Glaser.
“Gabriel Hernandez came to me with several of Jimmy’s unfinished songs, and we made the decision to reach out to some of mine and Jimmy’s close friends to help finish the record,” said Joe Glaser, owner of Nashville’s Glaser Instruments, and Mr. Nall’s longtime personal friend. “Jimmy and his family were struggling every day, and unless you’re in their shoes you really have no idea what it’s like. We have witnessed it firsthand for a long time, so when we presented everyone with this opportunity to help finish this record, all of them jumped at the chance to do it. Everyone wanted to help.” The Jimmy Nalls Project – unheard, original music regrettably shelved nearly 16 years earlier by Mr. Nalls due to complications and symptoms from his battle with Parkinson’s – was finally released on June 19, 2017, a mere three days before his untimely death.
From the beginning, the idea was to retain the spirit of Mr. Nalls’ original recordings. It was the guest artists’ option to complete their respective tracks in whatever styles deemed appropriate. While a few artists made their contributions remotely, many added their parts in some of Nashville’s world-renowned studios that offered free time to help complete the project, most notably The House of Blues. “Having some of it recorded here in Nashville gave us the opportunity for Jimmy to be present, grinning from his wheelchair – something that helped reinvigorate his self-esteem,” Mr. Hernandez said. “Nothing was as rewarding as seeing the smile on his face as he spent time in the studios, lending a helping hand where and when he could, and watching his friends and former colleagues come together to help him finish his long-awaited second solo effort.” All of the artists were fully aware of the history and current challenges facing Mr. Nalls and his family. Even more importantly, they’ve all realized just how lucky they are to do what they love – which is to make and play music. “We did this for our brother Jimmy Nalls, but really for all of us, too” said Chuck Leavell, The Rolling Stones’ long time keyboard player and bandleader. “We’re all did it with the hope his fans will enjoy the music, but also to give them an opportunity to support an important cause.”
Mr. Nalls – born James Albert Nalls III on May 31, 1951 – is survived by Patricia Diane “Minni” Nalls, his devoted wife of 38 years; their two children, Jennifer Amanda Greer and her husband John Milton Greer, and James “Buddy” Albert Nalls IV and his fiancé Sabreena Inta; his brother Jeff Nalls and sister Jo Lynn Nalls Hendrickson; and his three grandchildren Amanda Laine Manso, Robert Tyler Manso and Nathan James Manso.
In accordance with Mr. Nalls’ wishes, his body will be cremated by Crawford Mortuary & Crematory in Nashville, and a “Celebration of His Life” service will take place Saturday, July 1, 2017, at Hamilton United Methodist Church, located at 3105 Hamilton Church Rd., Antioch, TN 37013. The service starts at 1 pm, with light food and refreshments to follow. For more information on the service, please contact the church directly at (615) 361-7210.
A celebrity memorial concert is also being planned to celebrate Mr. Nalls life and legacy, and details will be released at a later date. All updates regarding Mr. Nalls’ memorial service and concert will be posted at www.jimmynallsproject.com and www.facebook.com/jimmynallsproject.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made in Mr. Nalls’ name to either The Grand Ole Opry Trust Fund or the MusiCares Foundation Nashville office. The family also wishes for everyone to purchase a copy of Mr. Nalls latest release, The Jimmy Nalls Project, at https://www.jimmynallsproject.com/. As stated above, anyone can keep track of all current events and updates regarding Mr. Nalls thru Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jimmynallsproject/. For more information, anyone can also call Gabriel Hernandez at (615) 613-1389 or Joe Glaser at (615) 294-1139.
The family would also like to extend a huge, very special THANK YOU to Richard Brent and the entire staff at The Big House Museum in Macon, Georgia, for their generous support, and unselfish assistance in helping spread the word of Mr. Nalls’ first new music in nearly 20 years. Their love and devotion of a fellow "brother" is both commendable and greatly appreciated.
Please sign the Guestbook for the family.
CRAWFORD MORTUARY & CREMATORY, 615-254-8200