On Thursday Jerry Nelson passed away. I didn’t know him by name, but the first thing I read when the news was announced was “Muppets” and my heart sunk. Because when you learn someone involved in the Muppets has died, you know that a small part of your childhood has left the earth. I actually held my breath when I clicked on the article because I was worried just which parts of my childhood would hurt me with the news. But as soon as I read a couple of the roles he had on the many Henson productions I suddenly knew exactly which voice it was and figured out a bunch of the other roles he had. And yes, my heart ached.
For one, Nelson was the announcer for not only The Muppets but was also responsible for the iconic “Piiiiigs in Spaaaaaace!” shout. Once I knew that I could remember so many one-off or side characters with his very distinctive voice. He voiced Lloyd the guitar player who was always one of my personal favorites and he played Gobo on Fraggle Rock (which is probably why I had the Fraggle Rock theme song in my head for a good portion of Friday). Oh, and he voiced the Count on Sesame Street. Like I said, a part of my childhood died this week.
From what I can find he didn’t voice his character in The Muppets (although his announcer voice was used a few times), but he was still voicing the Count and other characters on Sesame Street. They had already recorded audio for the new season of the PBS show so we’ll still be hearing his version of the characters when it comes back in September.
Jerry Nelson was 78 when he passed away and thanks to being a part of the early days of the Henson Company, Nelson made millions and millions of people happy through his characters. Readers who have followed Just Plain Something over the last year and a half will know my love of the Henson Company and their mission of bringing a little more wonder into the world. So thank you, Mr. Nelson.
I found a couple really lovely videos featuring Mr. Nelson. The first is a rare moment of him in front of the camera, playing straight man to Kermit and Fozzie. The second video shows Lloyd singing one of my favorite sweet sad songs (his voice is just so sweet).