Johnny Nitro’s life ended like one of his gigs: in an old North Beach bar, on a Saturday night, surrounded by fans.
Mr. Nitro, whose raspy voice and low-down rhythm guitar made him a beloved fixture in the Bay Area blues scene, died Saturday evening in his apartment upstairs from the Saloon on Grant Avenue, where he performed regularly for decades.
“The paramedics came. It was chaos. But when they brought his body down wrapped in a white sheet, everyone just got quiet and started applauding. It was amazing,” said Futoshi Morioka, a San Francisco guitarist who was playing at the Saloon when Mr. Nitro died.
“We finished the set because Johnny would have wanted that,” Morioka said. “But then we played Bill Withers’ ‘Lean on Me’ in his honor. I just played my heart out for him.”
February 20, 2011
Impromptu Blues Funeral