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.

Trending - Most Read Stories

WATCH: Car thieves abduct 6-year-old from day care parking lot

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 2:06 AM

Image courtesy Clayton County police
Clayton County police
Image courtesy Clayton County police(Clayton County police)

A 6-year-old child was abducted early Tuesday after two car thefts at a Georgia day care, authorities said. 

>> Watch the video here

About five minutes after the car thefts, the child was seen on surveillance video walking back to the Childcare Network Daycare, Clayton County police Sgt. Ashanti Marbury said. It’s not known where he was abandoned. 

Three men are sought in connection with the crimes at the day care, located in the 6000 block of Fayetteville Road in Riverdale, police said. 

About 7:25 a.m., Clayton County police were called to the day care in reference to two stolen vehicles left running and unattended. 

Surveillance video showed a silver Nissan Altima parking next to a gray 2016 Chrysler 300. A man in the front passenger seat of the Nissan jumped into the Chrysler’s front passenger seat. Moments later, the Chrysler drove away. 

Not long after the theft, the Nissan drove to another location in the day care parking lot and made an abrupt stop at a white 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe, Clayton County police said. The Hyundai, which had a 6-year-old inside, was also left running and unattended.

A person in the back seat of the Nissan hopped out, got into the Hyundai and sped away, police said. 

>> Read more trending news 

In under a minute, all three cars were seen on surveillance video leaving the day care parking lot. 

Shortly after, the child was seen walking back to the day care and was reunited with his mom. He was not injured. 

Police later found the Hyundai Santa Fe at the intersection of East Faytetteville Road and Evans Drive — less than a mile from the day care. The Chrysler 300 has not been found

Earlier this year, Clayton County police rescued two girls after someone stole an SUV with them inside from a gas station. A baby and her 4-year-old sister were dumped on the side of the road miles apart in freezing temperatures. Authorities arrested Khyree Swift and a 16-year-old in connection with the crime. 

Anyone who may have information on Tuesday’s case or the identity of the suspects is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 404-577-8477. 

Related

Trending - Most Read Stories

'Tick explosion' coming this summer, expert warns

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 1:39 AM

What You Need to Know: Ticks

Now that summer is just around the corner, experts are warning that ticks will be coming back in full force.

>> Watch the news report here

One tick expert in New England told Boston's WFXT that the warmer weather will cause what he called a "tick explosion."

The tiny, pesky and possibly harmful arachnids are about to spring into action, and everyone should be extra vigilant.

>> Tick spreading in the US gives people meat allergies

"They're up and looking for a host hoping something will walk by that they can latch on," said Dr. Thomas Mather, aka "The Tick Guy."

Mather said this season is prime for ticks, and his website, tickencounter.org, shows the type to watch out for in New England this season is the deer tick because it spreads Lyme disease.

"It's very important because around here it's the worst for Lyme disease more than anywhere else in the nation," Mather said.

The website also lists high tick activity in most of the eastern United States, as well as the Midwest, Plains states and West Coast. Deer ticks are the most prevalent species in the Northeast and Midwest, while Lone Star ticks dominate in the Southeast and much of the Central U.S. Wood ticks are more common in the Mountain region, and Pacific Coast ticks are prevalent on the West Coast, the site said. Learn more here.

>> Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Stephen Novick of Boston-based FlyFoe said his business is extremely busy since the ticks never really went away.

"We had a mild winter, didn’t freeze too much, and because of that, the animal populations were active longer, and that enabled the tick populations to be active," he said.

Deer, chipmunks and rodents all carry ticks. Spraying is one way to keep ticks out of your yard.

You may even opt for a garlic-based, organic repellent or a store-bought pesticide.

"The pesticide is the lowest rated by the EPA, so it’s also super safe," Novick said.

The pesticide is used for flea and tick collars for pets. 

>> Read more trending news 

Spraying has to be done once a month to keep ticks at bay, but for many it's the best alternative as it provides peace of mind.

Ticks usually hide in tall grass, so if you go hiking or walking in the woods, make sure to wear long-sleeve shirts and pants or get tick repellent clothing, use bug spray and always check yourself for ticks after being outdoors.

Checking for ticks is always important because if you happen to have been bitten, the quicker you remove the tick, the less likely it is that it will transmit any diseases.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Dayton traffic from the WHIO Traffic Center

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 1:15 AM
Updated: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 1:15 AM

Traffic issues can be reported by calling our newsroom at 937-259-2237 or tweeting @WHIOTraffic .

Traffic conditions are updated every six minutes on AM 1290 and News 95.7 FM.

Major Highway Incidents

  • No incidents to report.

Surface Street Incidents

  • No incidents to report. 

>> RELATED: WHIO App-Winter

>> RELATED: Track the latest conditions in your neighborhood on our live WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Ongoing Construction & Other Closures 

Live look at highways on our traffic cameras here.

Latest traffic conditions are also available on our traffic map. 

MONTGOMERY COUNTY

  • Arlington Road between Pleasant Plain and Upper Lewisburg Salem Road, BRIDGE CLOSURE, March 5 - Sept. 30. All ramps for I-70 will remain open. 
  • 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.
  • SR 4 north/south between I-70 and Lower Valley Pike, Lane closure April 2 - 26. One northbound and two southbound lanes will remain open. 
  • I-75 north Ramp to US 35 west, RAMP CLOSURE, March 12 - Sept. 30. The official detour is: I-75 north to US 35 east to Jefferson/Main Street to Ludlow Street to US 35 west. 
  • Airport Access Road South between US 40 and I-70, Lane closure April 2 - 27. One southbound lane will remain open. 
  • SR 48 between First Street and Riverdale Street, Lane closure April 2, 2018 - April 1, 2019. One lane will remain open in each direction.

GREENE COUNTY

  • Red Stewart Airfield (Waynesville Airport) and State Route 725, lane closures April 23 - 27 from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. 
  • State Route 235 between Dayton Yellow Springs and Enon Roads, ROAD CLOSURE for six months. The official detour is U.S. 68, West Hyde, and West Enon Roads.
  • Trebein Road from U.S. 35, Lane restrictions April 16 - August, 2018 for construction of a right turn lane. One lane will remain maintained at all times with flagging operations. 

PREBLE COUNTY

  • State Route 320 at Cedar Springs Road, ROAD CLOSURE for a mudslide until further notice.

WARREN COUNTY

MIAMI COUNTY

  • N. Market Street between Foss Way/Kirk Lane and Stonyridge Avenue, ROAD CLOSURE March 5 at 7 a.m. - Aug. 10 at 5 p.m. 
  • US 36 westbound between Scott Drive and Kienle Drive, Lane closure March 26 - June 30. One westbound lane will remain open. 

DARKE COUNTY

  • SR 49 between Hollansburg-Sampson Road and Arcanum Bears Mill Road, Lane closure April 16 - May 16. One lane will remain open in each direction through the use of portable signal.

MERCER COUNTY

  • SR 117 between US 127 and SR 116, Daily lane closures April 23 - July 31 between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 
  • SR 49 between Menchhofer Road and SR 219, ROAD CLOSURE April 16 - 30. The official detour is: SR 29 to SR 118 to SR 219
  • SR 707 between Taylor Road and Lewis Street, ROAD CLOSURE April 23 - 27. The official detour is US 127 north to SR 117 east 

SHELBY COUNTY

  • SR 47 between Fifth Avenue and Wilkinson Avenue, Lane closures Jan. 21 - Nov. 27. One lane will remain open in each direction at all times. 
  • SR 274 between Shroyer Road and Island Avenue, Lane closure April 9 - June 9. One lane will remain open in each direction. 
  • SR 66 between Basinburg Road and Mason Road, ROAD CLOSURE April 9 - May 11. The official detour is: SR 66 to SR 47 to I-75 to SR 29 to SR 705 to SR 66

CLARK COUNTY

  • I-70 east Ramp to I-675 north, RAMP CLOSURE March 15 - Aug. 15. The official detour is: I-70 east to I-675 south to SR 444 to I-675 north
  • Spangler Road south between Restoration Drive and I-70, Traffic pattern switch March 26 - August 15. Southbound Spangler Road traffic going to I-675 south and I-70 east will be moved to northbound side of I-675. Traffic will then be redirected to the southbound side of I-675 after passing over I-70. 

CHAMPAIGN COUNTY

  • Upper Valley Pike between State Route 296 and Lippincott Road, ROAD CLOSURE, starting April 16 for approximately four weeks.

LOGAN COUNTY

  • US 68 between SR 508 and Township Road 310, ROAD CLOSURE April 23 - 27. The official detour is: US 68 to SR 296 to SR 29 to SR 235 to SR 47 to US 68. 
  • SR 235 between Township Road 93 and Township Road 250, ROAD CLOSURE April 30 - May 4. The official detour is SR 366 to US 33 to SR 385 to SR 117/SR 235.
  • SR 274 between Morris Rose Road and SR 235, Daily lane closures May 1 - June 29 between 7 a.m. 5 p.m. 
  • SR 235 between SR 720 and SR 117, Daily lane closures May 1 - June 29 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • SR 68 between SR 508 and Gunn Town Road, Daily lane closures April 23 - June 29 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. 

AUGLAIZE COUNTY

  • SR 197 between Township Road 117A and Ridge Street, Lane closure April 2 - May 3. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction through the use of temporary signal.
  • SR 116 between Hesse Road and Baker-Wright Road, Lane closure April 2 - 30. One lane will remain open for travel in each direction through the use of temporary signal.
  • US 33 between SR 29 and I-75, Daily lane closures March 26 - July 31 between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. One lane will remain open in each direction. 
  • US 33 between SR 65 and Center Street, Lane closure April 16 - May 9. One lane will remain open in each direction through the use of temporary signal.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Police: Car ends up on its top when road rage incident ends in Dayton

Published: Wednesday, April 25, 2018 @ 12:59 AM

SCENE: Crash at Wayne and Fifth result of road rage, police say

A two-vehicle accident at Wayne Avenue and East Fifth Street early Wednesday is believed to be the result of a road-rage incident, Dayton police officers said. 

The accident was dispatched about 11:53 p.m. with a vehicle reportedly on its top. 

OTHER LOCAL NEWS: Driver killed in head-on collision in Riverside

Police tell us their preliminary investigation reveals that a gold Saturn began pursuing a red Ford on I-75, near Stanley Avenue. The pursuit continued into Dayton, where the Saturn hit a blue car and ended up on its top at Wayne Avenue and East Fifth Street after that collision. 

Police did speak with the driver of the red car and let that person go. 

They told us they cited the driver of the Saturn for reckless operation. Officers said they believe the Saturn was pursuing the Ford as part of some kind of argument. 

No one was injured, police said. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

Trending - Most Read Stories