Guest column: A birthday toast to Jimmy Ibbotson
Please join my siblings and me in celebrating one of Aspen valley’s most illustrious and talented residents, a monumental contributor to what made aspen great: my father, world-renowned birthday boy, Dr. James A. Ibbotson, Ph.D. Or, more commonly, Jimmy Ibbotson, aka Ibby.
If you just self-righteously snorted a bit and thought, “Ibbotson Schmibbotson,” then you know exactly the genius that I am talking about.
That may sound like an astonishingly biased opinion, which is true; however, that does not discount the veracity of my claim! Our father is a man so talented John Denver covered his music during one of his earliest appearances on Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show”; an action that, though flattering, would forever cause internet confusion about who actually wrote “Rippling Waters,” the song considered by many to be “a postcard from Colorado” and one of the reasons so many live in the state today — if not you, your parents, perhaps?
The heart and soul of Aspen beats in large part to the rhythm and rhyme offered lovingly by our father, the grittiest part of the Dirt Band, and the minstrel to the history of this noble valley! There is a reason the late, great, now angel and saint Kathy Daily entrusted him with her legacy of love to Aspen’s history. If you are fortunate, you may have been around long enough to recall that the original reason everyone went to Aspen Highlands was for the music, not the snow. Did you witness the epic last night at the old Continental Inn, when he threw a table through the large plate-glass window of Paddy Bugatti’s to commemorate the culmination of years entertaining tourists who loved the fact that they could catch part of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band playing — just for the fun of it? Perhaps you recall the night he played swinging from the rafters before jumping out of the third-story patio of Godfather’s Pizzeria? He played passionately for all the locals who needed a weekly reminder of why they kept working tirelessly to keep the tourists happy and to make their own impatient journey to the next powder day a little more enjoyable. Then there are those fortunate few who received our high school diplomas from the legend himself.
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Everyone has his or her own personal favorite story of today’s most honored birthday boy, Dr. Jim Ibbotson. Some may still have their 1981 Cosmopolitan magazine naming him the sexiest bachelor of May, somewhere tucked away. Did you get to enjoy the irony as much as we did that he was recently married, excitedly expecting the birth of his only son? Did you ever question the story of him chasing Melanie Griffith’s car barking like a dog down Little Woody Creek Road? Well, his dogs started it, and he has never been one to let down a group of his friends. Is there one amongst us who can fault him that loyalty? I am sure you got the joke of him starting a Kenneth Lay legal fund in a coffee can at the Tavern — didn’t you? And, yes, he does hold a doctorate from Middlebury College, if you didn’t already know.
Our father has brought music to every single one of your lives, regardless if you recognize it regularly or not. His voice may provoke you by the end of the holiday season as it ceaselessly twangs through every shopping mall and on every radio station; that is simply because it is as much a part of the fabric of the season as any of the time-honored classics by Bing Crosby and Irving Berlin. It couldn’t be Christmas without him! A man so devout that statement will enrage the pious soul who turned down a record contract solely because the record producer’s phone number ended 0666.
Jan. 21, the first day of the rest of our lives, is my father’s 70th birthday — something worth celebrating. A day worth raising your voices in unity to howl at the moon! Please, wish Ibby a very happy birthday for me and let him know how grateful we all are for his contribution to making Aspen great once, now and forever more!
Jennifer Ibbotson Rodriguez lives in Bellingham, Washington.
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