Dayton icon Jerry Gillotti, Gilly’s nightclub owner, dies

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 8:29 AM
Updated: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 2:26 PM

Jerry Gillotti, the iconic co-founder and owner of Gilly?€™s, died on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 24. He was 80.

Jerry Gillotti, the iconic co-founder and owner of Gilly’s, died on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 23. He was 80.

A spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said this morning, Nov. 24, that her office had been notified of Mr. Gillotti’s death at a local hospice facility.

Mr. Gillotti had been severely injured in a robbery and beating outside the nightclub at 132 S. Jefferson St. in March 2016. No arrests have been made

>> RELATED: Gilly’s Jazz owner injured in robbery (March 2016)

The club remains open and plans to continue scheduled shows, including those planned for this weekend.  

The Gillotti family said in a statement that Gilly’s will close permanently on Dec. 31. 

Mr. Gillotti’s son, Mike Gillotti, posted about his father’s passing on his Facebook page. 

“We are very sad to announce that my Dad, Jerry Gillotti, passed away yesterday after a long battle with heart and kidney disease. The Gillotti family would like to thank the Dayton Community for your thoughts and prayers as well as 45 years of supporting the best in live music. Thank you for your love and support.”

Jerry Gillotti in front of Gilly’s nightclub. FILE

Jerry Gillotti mentioned the serious brain injury he sustained in that attack as a major contributor to his declining health in an interview with us last month about the future of his beloved music venue. 

>> RELATED: Owner of Gilly’s willing to sell downtown Dayton club

He said he hadn’t fully recovered and was relying on his wife, Winnie Gillotti, for transportation. His brother, Tom, increased his involvement in the business. 

Jerry Gillotti said he wanted to continue operating the club indefinitely, but said he had to face reality. 

 “I am 80 years old,” he told us in the interview. “I don’t have the health or the stamina or the years left or days left.”

>> RELATED: Benefit being planned for attacked business owner Jerry Gillotti of Gilly’s (March 2016)

REMEMBERING GILLOTTI

Many Dayton-area residents reflected upon Jerry Gillotti’s contribution to the community. 

"Jerry and Gilly’s is a Dayton Original and will be greatly missed in the downtown music scene,” Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said. 

Blues and rock musician Doug Hart of the Doug Hart Band said those close to club had known that Gillotti’s health had taken a turn for the worse recently and he was at Hospice. 

“Knowing it’s going to happen doesn’t make it any easier when it does,” Hart said. 

He has played 20 to 25 shows at Gilly’s in the past 10 years. 

Jerry always gave me the freedom to put on a show the way I wanted and promote it the way I wanted,” Hart said. “Jerry is one of the sweetest men I’ve known. I can’t say enough about the wonderful human being he was, but he was not a pushover. He was good at his business, and you knew where you stood.” 

Hart said Jerry Gillioti also had a great sense of humor. 

“He was very perceptive. He wouldn’t say much, but when he did, everyone listened,” the musician recalled. “He would come up with these one liners and everybody laughed.” 

Jerry Gillotti, the owner of Gilly's, has established a "No Smoking" policy at his bar. The establishment is located at the corner of Jefferson Street and Fifth Street in downtown Dayton.(Ron Alvey)

Gilly’s helped put Dayton on the map in the jazz and blues worlds. Hart said he was humbled to play there. 

“It is one of the more legendary clubs I know of in the country ,” he said. “Everybody that I considered my hero I’ve seen play there.”

Before opening Gilly’s, Jerry Gillotti was an inside salesperson for the Farnbacher Toy Company and was Public Relations Director for Cassano Pizza King, where he co-hosted the “Fans in the Stands” radio show with Vic Cassano on WHIO Radio for over seven years. 

He had also been an advertising consultant for the Tatone Auto Group in Fairborn. 

Mr. Gillotti, a 1962 University of Dayton graduate,  bought Wedgewood Inn on Patterson Road in 1969 and featured jazz acts there two years before he and his brother purchased the former site of Green Derby at 801 N. Main St. and transformed it into Gilly’s.

The first show as Gilly’s was Roy Meriwether on July 7, 1972, according to Gary J. Leppla, Gillotti’s attorney and friend.

Reached this morning, Leppla said he had visited Mr. Gillotti in recent weeks at both his hospital and at his hospice bedside, and had a brief conversation with the nightclub owner on Tuesday. 

“He said, ‘You didn’t have to come down here.’ Again, typical Jerry, always supportive of others.”

Jerry Gillotti “was one of a kind, really focused on supporting musicians, treating his customers fairly, and providing a quality level of jazz and blues beyond anything we could ever expect,” Leppla said. “So many musicians owe so much to him.”

>> RELATED: Jerry Gillotti just keeps jazzin’ on (April 2010)

>> RELATED: Gilly’s Jazz shows over the years

In his nomination of Jerry Gillotti to the Dayton Walk of Fame, Leppla said Gillotti became one of the greatest jazz and blues promoters in the United States. After a successful run on North Main Street, Jerry moved Gilly’s to the Dayton Transportation Center. In addition, Jerry hosted a Sunday morning jazz show for several years on WING-AM radio.

Heartfelt tributes to Mr. Gillotti have been posted on Facebook as well. 

IMPACT ON DAYTON MUSIC

His influence was not just local. 

Local musician Hal Melia first met Gillotti 45 years ago

“Everybody around the country knows about Jerry Gillotti and Gilly’s,” Melia said. 

“Dayton’s a place where people make things happen and have to figure out how to do that, and Jerry always did that.”

Performers booked at Gilly’s through the years include a host of local groups and a laundry list of national acts that include Tony Bennett, Diane SchuurBB King, Wynton Marsalis, Art BlakeyDexter GordonBill EvansGeorge Benson,  Herbie Hancock, Count Basie, Bobby Blue Bland and Stevie Ray Vaughn. 

“I put groups in here when I know he wasn’t making a dime on it. And I put groups in here .... that pack the place out for him. He was the same kind of guy no matter what,” Melia said. 

Jerry Gillotti and George Benson(handout)

Floyd Weatherspoon, one of four vocalists in the Dayton based R&B group “Touch,” said the closure of Gilly’s will leave a hole in the city. 

“I think it going to be a big loss in Dayton,” he said. “There are not a lot of places where grown folks can go without worrying about riff riff coming in and causing confusion.” 

Weatherspoon’s band has played a Valentine’s weekend show at Gilly’s for 20 consecutive years.

In recent years, the group added a Sweetest Day show. 

Weatherspoon spent 32 years in the automobile sales business like Mr. Gillotti’s brother Tom.

“Every time I called, he said ‘how’s sales’ then we started talking about sports and then we start talking about booking the club,” Weatherspoon said with a laugh. “He was a good dude to talk to. It’s just really sad that this happened.”

Weatherspoon said Touch has opened for a list of national acts that includes The Temptations and Eddie Money, but always found its way back to Gilly’s.

“We knew it was great place to play, and we always had a sell-out,” he said. “(Gillotti) gave a lot of local groups a place to showcase their talents. If you were good, you’d come back.”

Gillotti told this news organization in October that he was proud to have brought “every jazz artist in the world” to Dayton. 

I’ve had (45) years, and they have been good years,” he said. “I haven’t made a lot of money to be honest with you, but it is a passion to present the music in the right way.”

>> PHOTOS:  Jerry Gillotti, co-founder of Gilly’s Jazz, through the years

Dayton native Tony Houston said Jerry Gillotti and the passion for blues he shared with Dayton greatly influenced him as a musician. 

Houston said he learned from watching and studying under the musicians Gillotti brought to town. In the early days, they were featured for a week at a time and offered classes in their hotel rooms to supplement their income. 

Houston recalled paying George Benson two chickens cooked by his grandmother for a lesson.

He said Mr. Gillotti was generous and offen allowed him to meet musicans backstage. 

“It was a tremendous setting and chance for musicians to learn,” Houston said of Gilly’s. “It a huge loss to the Dayton comunity and music scene.  I hope that something continues to make that happen at Gilly’s.”

Dave Shores, a 22-year sound technician at Gilly’s, said music was Gillotti’s life. 

“It was all about the music,” Shores said. “I watched him take losses on acts to get them in the club.”

Shores said he did repairs at Gilly’s whenever Gillotti asked him.

With a laugh, he recalled Gillotti, after being woken by a nurse, telling him a story from his hospital bed following that March 2016 attack.

“That was Jerry,” Shores said.

He said he once told one of his interns “you haven’t made it in the music business in Dayton” until Jerry Gillotti has chewed you out.

Shores said he later joked with that intern after Jerry did in fact chew him out in a hallway. 

Jerry Gillotti at his club in 1977. CONTRIBUTED(HANDOUT)

While he could be tough and expected the best as a business owner, Gillotti protected his employees and, on the rare occassions there were problems, defended them, Shores said. 

“He had their backs,” Shores said. “ He’d say, ‘you are not going to trick my people that way’.”

HONORS

In addition to his induction in the Dayton Walk of Fame in 2013, Gillotti was recognized by the University of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music with the prestigious William Lawless Jones Award for his contributions to the region’s jazz culture.

In an article celebrating his 30th anniversary at Gilly’s, Gillotti told the Dayton Daily News his passion for jazz was ignited during his time in the Army while stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. He frequented jazz clubs and heard iconic acts such as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and the Modern Jazz Quartet.

He left the service in 1958 with an idea.

“If you presented (jazz) correctly, in a nice atmosphere, you’ve got to be successful; people will come out to see it because it’s just so infectious and it’s such good music,” he told contributing writer Kris Alavattam.

>> 3 heartbreaking losses to Dayton’s music scene

WHIO television contributed to this report.

Neighbors of parents accused of holding 13 kids captive describe family as odd, reclusive

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 6:12 AM

13 Siblings Held Captive In California "House of Horrors"

Neighbors described the reportedly nightmarish situation at the Turpin home, where parents David and Louise allegedly kept their 13 children shackled to their beds and malnourished, as seeming like a “cult.”

Former neighbors said the children were made to march around for hours in the middle of the night, they told the New York Post.

A man named Mike, who did not want to give his full name and was a neighbor of the Turpins when they lived in Murrieta, California, told the Post, “I thought they were like a cult. They would march back and forth on the second story at night. The light would be on the whole time, and they would be marching the kids back and forth.”

>> Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence

Mike said he would arrive home late from his job at a hospital and see the children marching through the upstairs rooms of the Turpin home between midnight and 3 a.m.

David and Louis Turpin were arrested Sunday in their Perris, California, home after one of their daughters called police for help, saying she had managed to escape the house with a cellphone. When police arrived, they reportedly found the siblings, ages 2 to 29, living in squalor and looking very thin, with several of the kids shackled to furniture.

Mike said his wife, Myrna, called the family “clones,” saying the Turpins all spoke “robotically, in a monotone and at the same” time during the few occasions on which Myrna interacted with them at a local grocer.

However, Mike told the Post that he and Myrna never called the police because they didn’t see anything that suggested they needed to. They just thought the parents were a bit odd.

Mike, as well former neighbors from when the Turpins owned a farm in Rio Vista, Texas — which the family left due to foreclosure — remarked on the amount of trash that the family accumulated.

“I ended up calling the police because of the trash and everything that was left there,” said former Texas neighbor Randy McClain. “There was a brand new pickup truck covered in [trash] — a whole truck bed full and overflowing to the ground with trash: diapers, Spam cans, potted meat cans, just overflowing.”

The Daily Mail got access to the Turpin’s Perris backyard and found a Disney-themed fountain situated in a messy yard in which “piles of metal pipes could be seen strewn around, along with a rusty set of metal garden furniture and some diaper boxes.”

>> Read more trending news 

Through the screen door, the Daily Mail spied piles of clutter, including what appear to be stacked books, within the house.

Neighbor Leticia Gomez, 45, who lives directly behind the Turpin home, told the Daily Mail that she wasn’t aware there were any kids in the house. She described the Turpins’ garden as unkempt and “scruffy.”

Another neighbor, Andria Valdez, said she did know there were children living in the home and that she had seen them before. She joked that the Turpins reminded her of the vampire family in the “Twilight” books and movies, because they were “really, really pale” and “only came out at night.”

Photos offer glimpse into former Texas home of parents accused of abusing 13 children

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 3:58 PM

RIVERSIDE, CA - JANUARY 18: David Allen Turpin, accused of holding their 13 children captive, appears in court for arraignment on January 18, 2018 in Riverside, California. According to Riverside County Sheriffs, David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin held 13 malnourished children ranging in age from 2 to 29 captive in their Perris, California home. Deputies were alerted after a 17-year-old daughter escaped by jumping through a window shortly before dawn on Sunday morning, carrying a de-activated mobile phone from which she was able to call 911 for help. Responding deputies described conditions in the home as foul-smelling with some kids chained to a bed and suffering injuries as a result. Adult children appeared at first to be minors because of their malnourished state. The Turpins were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment.  (Photo by Terry Pierson-Pool/Getty Images)
Pool/Getty Images
RIVERSIDE, CA - JANUARY 18: David Allen Turpin, accused of holding their 13 children captive, appears in court for arraignment on January 18, 2018 in Riverside, California. According to Riverside County Sheriffs, David Allen Turpin and Louise Anna Turpin held 13 malnourished children ranging in age from 2 to 29 captive in their Perris, California home. Deputies were alerted after a 17-year-old daughter escaped by jumping through a window shortly before dawn on Sunday morning, carrying a de-activated mobile phone from which she was able to call 911 for help. Responding deputies described conditions in the home as foul-smelling with some kids chained to a bed and suffering injuries as a result. Adult children appeared at first to be minors because of their malnourished state. The Turpins were arrested on charges of torture and child endangerment. (Photo by Terry Pierson-Pool/Getty Images)(Pool/Getty Images)

David and Louise Turpin, the California couple who were charged with torture and child abuse after authorities accused them of holding their 13 children captive in dire conditions, previously lived in Texas, several news outlets have reported.

>> Read more trending news

ABC News reported Thursday that it had acquired pictures from inside the family’s former Texas home, near Fort Worth. The pictures were submitted by the home’s current owner, who took the pictures after he bought the foreclosed property about 18 years ago.

The pictures, which can be seen here, show stained carpets and walls. The current owner told ABC it required an “extensive cleanup” and that he and his wife “believed that the previous occupants destroyed the house because it was being foreclosed on.”

The anonymous owner also told ABC that feces were smeared all over the walls of every room at the time that he bought the home.

The Associated Press reported Friday that a prosecutor in the case said the Turpins limited their children to one shower a year and one meal a day. 

Dogs found in perfect condition in home where 13 siblings held captive

Published: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 1:52 AM

13 Siblings Held Captive In California "House of Horrors"

A pair of well-kept dogs were taken from the Perris, California, house where 13 children were found shackled and severely malnourished last week.

>> Watch the news report here

David Turpin, 57, and Louise Turpin, 49, are facing a minimum of 94 years for charges including child neglect and torture after police said their children, ranging from ages 2 to 29, were discovered in their home severely malnourished.

>> Neighbors of parents accused of holding 13 kids captive describe family as odd, reclusive

In a statement on Wednesday, city spokesman Joe Vargo said authorities recovered two Maltese terrier dogs in far better condition than the Turpins’ children. The 1-year-old female puppies were reportedly healthy and were taught skills, People reported.

“The animals, one white and one black, appear healthy and friendly and are leash-trained, according to Christina Avila, a senior animal control officer,” a press release from the city of Perris said.

>> Read more trending news 

The dogs — one was named Fluffy — were featured in photos from the city appearing well-groomed and in sweaters. An adoption raffle for the pups is being held through Jan. 26 to find them new homes.

Investigators said the children were only allowed showers a few times per year and were fed only once per day. In a press conference with reporters Thursday, District Attorney Mike Hestrin alleged that the last time any of the children had seen a doctor was four years ago and they had never been to a dentist. Police said the parents allegedly kept themselves well-fed and regularly ate pies in front of their children to taunt them, ABC News reported.

>> Police: 13 siblings held captive in California residence

The 17-year-old who reportedly escaped the home through a bedroom window to alert authorities was initially believed to be just 10 years old due to the severity of her malnourishment, while the oldest victim, a 29-year-old woman, weighed only 82 pounds when the children were found. According to Hestrin, the children “lack a basic knowledge of life,” although they were allegedly homeschooled, KTLA reported.

According to the Daily Mail, the parents face a combined total of 75 charges, and each was being held on $12 million bond.

Dayton traffic from the WHIO traffic center

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 12:35 AM
Updated: Sunday, January 21, 2018 @ 1:02 AM

Staff photo
Staff photo

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • Keowee Street north of Stanley Avenue, bridge closed until 2019. The official detour is: Keowee Street to Stanley Avenue to I-75 to Wagner Ford Road and back to Dixie. More information is available here.
  • Stewart Street Ramp to US 35 East, RAMP CLOSURE March 28 - Sept 30, 2018. The official detour is: Stewart Street to Edwin C. Moses Boulevard to I-75 north to US 35 west to James H. McGee Blvd. to US 35 east.
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west and east, Lane width restriction until Apr. 1, 2018. One lane will remain open on the ramp with a width of 11 feet.
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