Archived Story

Well-loved area guitarist dies at 49

Published 11:09am Thursday, June 7, 2012 Updated 11:11am Friday, June 8, 2012

A talented guitarist and well-loved man was lost to Fergus Falls Monday, when James Zultowski – known to everyone he knew as “Jimi Z” – died of a heart attack. He was 49.

The country blues and folk player was a common sight at many local venues, including The Spot, and The Spot is hosting a benefit to cover Jimi’s funeral and burial costs today at 7:30 p.m.

The benefit coincides with open mic night at The Spot, and many people who made music with Jimi over the years will be playing, including his bandmates in The Crown Vics. Donations are freewill.

“There will be a whole lot of musicians here playing, probably twice more than usual,” noted The Spot owner Michael Loreno.

A Chicago native, Jimi lived in Fergus Falls for 21 years, playing music whenever he could and working for Runningen Furs as a skinner in the winter.

“He loved both his jobs,” said girlfriend Joanna Watson.

She and Jimi’s son, Aaron Zultowski, 20, remembered him as a friendly man who got along with everyone. Aaron recalled spending time with his father growing up and often traveling to music festivals.

“We loved to listen to music together and always go on walks and stuff,” he said. “He was just a good dad. He’s always been there for me, and we did a lot together.”

Described by Watson as “the biggest hippy you’ll ever meet,” Jimi was a many-faceted musician, talented in other instruments including the banjo, mandolin and bass guitar. He was also very interested in making things, and was known for crafting cigar box guitars.

A man with a passion for life and music, Jimi will be missed by many, said Watson.

“A lot of people were his best friend,” said Aaron. “He was my best friend.”

Jimi’s funeral will be held 1 p.m. Friday at the Olson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls. Visitation is from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the funeral home.

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