TRIBUTES from the island’s music community have poured in for Onchan man John Nelson, whose decades of performing and teaching earned him ‘a huge place in Manx social history’.
Last month the 71-year-old lost a two-year battle with illness, but his legacy lives on in the music of the hundreds of students he helped inspire.
The widower was a father to four, had four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
His son Kit said his father used his guitar workshops and lessons to keep him going through a battle with oesophageal cancer, and he has received hundreds of touching messages from John’s friends, bandmates and former students.
Student Winston Liu described Mr Nelson as ‘a wonderful man who changed my life’, whose legacy was that he eventually became a guitar teacher himself.
Steph Motley, former member of girl band Twisted Angels, said John gave so many budding musicians their first opportunities to develop.
‘His patience with beginners and enthusiasm for music was endless and this gave his older students the confidence to realise a life long dream,’ she said.
‘He had an amazing ability to see the talent in everyone and nurture it to its full potential with friendly advice or guidance. He had a way of making everybody feel special. John was such a genuine man with time for everyone and I feel lucky to have been his friend.’
Kit said so many similar tales have flooded in on how John affected the lives of hundreds of people.
Former band mate David Saunders said listening to an album they made together in 1971 ‘melts the time away’.
As a performer John supported greats including Chuck Berry and The Shadows in the heady days of the Palace Lido venue in Douglas.
‘On and off stage he was great to be around, but it was his ability, at speed, to learn and perfect his role in different numbers which was outstanding,’ said Mr Saunders.
Relatives Mo and Roy Cain recalled how John treated all students as individuals. ‘There was a man there who would never make a guitarist in a million years, but John encouraged him because he was learning on the guitar of his late son, and John knew it was a healing process for the gentleman,’ said Mo.
John’s funeral will be held on February 15, while the Villa Marina has been booked for Saturday 16 for a tribute night of performances from John’s friends and students.