The jazz world lost a good one

Thankful for Gilly

By Jim Bucher

When you think of the jazz scene here in Dayton and the Miami Valley, one name comes to mind—‘Gilly’, as in Jerry Gillotti—the owner of the iconic Gilly’s in the City of Dayton’s Transportation Center.

We lost Jerry on Thanksgiving, which is sort of ironic because for the man, we have much to be thankful.

I met Gilly years ago when The Slugs would take the stage. Anyone remember them?

My appreciation for Jazz, though, goes back to the days when my dad would play LP’s of Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, and Frank Sinatra even on the Fisher Stereo in the family living room.

So, it was engrained in my DNA as it were.

Later when I’d plug acts coming to Gilly’s, we struck up a friendship. Being on local TV Jerry nicknamed me ‘Network.’

Every time we’d run into each other we could hear through the crowd, ‘Hey, well if it isn’t Network.’ Got a big kick out of that.

I had lunch with Gilly about a year or so ago and was offering my services to ‘up’ his social media presence. But he turned me down. Gilly had a ‘guy’ doing it for him. Everyone has a guy.

Gilly will be missed terribly, but every time I hear a jazz tune I’ll think of him.

And everyone it seems has a Gilly story. Throughout the years I have gathered a slew of them, but so do many others who Jerry touched throughout the years.

Like Shelly ‘Glad Girl’ Hulce.

“My Gilly’s story could best be filed under «life event» than «memory.» For years I wanted to do reenactments of historic rock concerts as seen in different documentaries. The documentary of the last night of David Bowie›s character «Ziggy Stardust» in 1973. Gilly’s was just the right venue, between ballroom size and an arena. After 5 months of sewing and practicing and writing, the production featuring all local rock musicians and music theater professionals took the stage on 11/11/11 at 11:11 p.m. The numbers were very important as they represent «blessing», which we were about to give and receive. The show was the «Resurrection of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders From Mars.» Hulce said.

“A sold-out crowd of painted faces and feathers became a revival meeting. There were many tears for the performers and the crowd. Jerry didn›t know what was about to happen but by the first act was stunned at what he saw. He came back to the dressing room and said «This is great! Just great!» Everyone knew it would be fun but did not expect the spiritual experience that took place. People were stunned.” Glad Girl added.

Bart Frye has a few lasting memories.

“When I was maybe 8 or 10, in those days you could take your music crazy kid to the clubs…and my father took me to see so many greats at Gilly›s. As a grown musician, Jerry was a warm and welcoming host to all musicians and I can honestly say that his was my very favorite room to play…anywhere! Nothing but fond memories of Jerry, all my life. P.S.—I met my wife at Gilly›s in the early 80s. Thanks again, Jerry!” Frye said.

Dave Shores wrote, “Here is a story not too many knew or realized. When we were setting bands up on Saturday afternoons, right before 5 p.m., Jerry always slipped out for about an hour. He never missed Saturday mass.”

My friend and man-about-town, Dan Covey, added, “When it came to supporting Dayton business, Jerry walked the walk. Whenever we had lunch together his choice was always a local restaurant.”

Joyce Hamilton recalled, “Met Jerry back in the 70s. I worked at GMAC in Fairborn and Jerry would come into the office with Paul Tatone. At that time Jerry was putting on shows at Memorial Hall. Jazz flutist Herbie Mann was scheduled. I had all of his record albums and asked Jerry to have the jackets autographed. He said «Hell no, ask him yourself». I had tickets waiting at the box office and was told to go backstage after the show. A girl friend and I met Herbie and he signed all our album jackets.” She said.

Brenda Davis Lambros wrote, “Thanks to Gillys, Flashback BAND was invited to perform at a tribute for Ohio Players band member, Leroy «Sugarfoot» Bonner, and also had the pleasure of meeting Marshall «Rock» Jones. It was truly a highlight for Flashback. Thank you Jerry Gillotti for your love of music and musicians.”

Gilly will be missed terribly, but every time I hear a jazz tune I’ll think of him. Not a bad thing.

Cheers Gilly. Well done my friend, well done.


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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at

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