johnny-jazz-042710Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta at Riverview Medical Center on April 27. (Click to enlarge)

Johnny Jazz is not dead. Repeat: JOHNNY JAZZ IS NOT DEAD.

In fact, for a guy with throat cancer, he’s actually doing pretty well, family members tell us.

But according to a persistent rumor, repeated in laudatory comments posted here on redbankgreen, the beloved West Side grocer/jazz aficionado Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta passed away.

One comment, which was deleted by our moderator after it was discredited, even gave a specific date of his purported passing to the great bandstand in the sky. “Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer yesterday,” the author wrote Friday night.

Wrong. But family members are finding themselves awash in premature condolences.

“It’s bizarre,” says niece Mary Gatta, who compares the rumor to those of Elvis sightings.

The misinformation isn’t just in the comments. It’s apparently been bouncing around Red Bank’s  West Side since Gatta closed his store late last month week.

The truth?

“He’s alive and doing really well,” Mary says of her 72-year-old uncle. “In fact, this is looking like a cancer that might be curable.”

Uncle Ralph, she says, is eager to hear directly from friends, via mail.

Those wishing to write can address their correspondence to Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta, c/o Jersey Shore Rehabilitation Center, 3 Industrial Way, Eatontown, NJ 07724.