Clavier Companion - July/August 2017 - 39
The Gillock household in LaRussell included music:
to the French Quarter, where he played for a while
Bill Gillock's father was a music lover and played
in a small jazz band. The specifics of the personnel
several instruments by ear, including the piano.
and the venues of their performances are lost, but
Also an enthusiast of photography, he captured the
it is said that the combo played occasionally at The
two boys, aged five and three, in front of the family
Court of Two Sisters, which originated their famous
Story & Clark upright. Young Bill picked out tunes
"Jazz Brunch" about this time.
by ear, and his father supplied a sort of harmony.
Bill started piano lessons around this
time; every week he and his family drove
fifteen miles to Carthage for lessons.
After graduating from high school,
Gillock entered Central Missouri Methodist College in Fayette as an art major. Encouraged in the liberal arts curriculum to
also study piano, Gillock was accepted as
a student by N. Louise Wright, who urged
him to take theory and other music courses. She also encouraged him in his first
compositional attempts through weekly composition lessons. "She...got me
started writing student literature...smaller pieces that children could play." He
wrote thirty pieces, and, on Ms. Wright's
urging, sent them to G. Schirmer, who accepted five for publication. For these he
was paid $10 for each piece. She also advised him to sell his pieces outright rather The Gillock Family; William Gillock is on the far right.
than through a royalty contract, and he
continued the process, at the same rate, with other
After the war, Gillock worked for an advertising
publishers, including F. Summy (the forerunner of
agency in New Orleans until an opportunity to
Summy-Birchard), Elkan Vogel, and McKinley Music.
develop a teaching studio appeared. He had already
This arrangement continued until the early 1950s.
begun to be known in the city as an accompanist
Although he never considered himself a strong
and improvisational pianist, and, when a local
graphic artist, Gillock did complete a bachelor's
radio station lost its resident teacher, Gillock's
degree in art at CMMC in 1939. He destroyed
application to fill the post was accepted and his
most of his artwork, and much of the rest has
teaching career began in earnest. During this time,
been lost. It is rumored that several of the covers
Gillock continued to compose, and had a number
of his early pieces, such as "Sing, Little Pussycat,"
of pieces accepted for publication.
were his original artworks, but there exists no
Gillock took time off from composing between
documentation of this.
1946 and 1953. He began his independent teaching
After graduating from college, Gillock taught
studio in 1950 by moving to a home on Solomon
school from 1939 to 1942 in Fayette, Missouri.
Place, in a quiet neighborhood near City Park.
During World War II, Gillock relocated to New OrleThere he converted a front parlor into his teaching
ans to work in drafting for the Consolidated Vultee
studio, with a small waiting room in the foyer. The
Aircraft Corporation. (He was exempted from acMason and Hamlin grand that he had bought earlier
tive service due to a medical condition.) He lived
was shipped to his family's home in Missouri, and
for a short time in a rooming house, then moved
he purchased a Steinway "M" for his new studio.