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Sunday, 28 May 2017

Gary Stewart born 28 May 1944


Gary Ronnie Stewart (May 28, 1944 – December 16, 2003) was a country musician and songwriter known for his distinctive vibrato voice and his southern rock influenced, outlaw country sound. During the peak of his popularity in the mid-1970s, Time magazine described him as the "King of the Honky Tonks.” He is remembered for a series of country chart hits from the mid- to late- 1970s.
While much of what passes for contemporary country music in the '90s and 2000s sounds like reheated Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, what's really annoying is what a youth-driven market it has become, leaving many great country performers of the '60s and '70s out in the cold. This is especially irritating when considering the career of Gary Stewart, one of the greatest of the hardcore-honky tonk school who, at his peak in the mid- to late '70s, could write and sing circles around just about any contemporary country star you could mention.
A native of Florida, Stewart escaped a lifetime of working in an airplane factory in the late '60s by pitching some songs he'd written to soon-to-be RCA country label honcho Jerry Bradley. At the time, Stewart (who was composing with his friend Bill Eldridge) didn't aspire to more than being an in-demand Nashville songwriter, but after a couple of years writing with some success, and through Bradley's continued intercession, he was given the opportunity to record on his own. With his huge, vibrato-laden tenor voice (which sounds a bit like Jerry Lee Lewis'), Stewart, with the inestimable help of songwriter Wayne Carson, released 1975's Out of Hand, one of the finest honky tonk records of all time. Paced by the hit "She's Actin' Single (I'm Drinkin' Doubles)," Gary Stewart was quickly becoming a country music star.
 
 
                              
Although he composed songs for traditional Grand Ole Opry stars (Cal Smith, Hank Snow), Stewart himself never emulated the traditional values espoused by the Nashville establishment; as one of his song titles stated, he was more of a "flat natural-born good-timin' man." He hung out (and caroused plenty) with Southern rock musicians, using them on his albums at a time when this was still considered radical. He was a renegade, unwilling to play the Nashville game and his increasing success provided him with the autonomy he needed to do his own thing. However, this generally meant conspicuous excess, especially when it came to substance abuse.
Still, from 1975 through 1980, Stewart's recorded work is mostly excellent, with a conspicuous high point coming in 1977 with the release of Your Place or Mine. A hard-driving slice of aggressive honky tonk, it was a rollickingly good piece of work, not the equal to Out Of Hand, but as important an assertion of Stewart's independence from the machinations of country music's star-making machinery. There were problems, however: Stewart was too country for rock audiences and too rock for country audiences and that limited any stab at broader appeal.
In 1980, he released Cactus and a Rose, with considerable help from Southern rock vets Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Mike Lawler, and Bonnie Bramlett. It was a fine record, but attracted only Stewart's core audience, and at this point in his career, that simply wasn't enough. Suddenly it seemed as if his desire and creativity vanished. He hooked up with Dean Dillon and made a couple of terrible two-good-ol'-boy records that made the redneck rowdiness of Hank Williams, Jr. sound philosophical by comparison. Not long afterwards, Stewart returned to Florida and stopped recording.
After his alcoholism and drug use pretty much cancelled out a large part of the '80s, Stewart returned, clean and sober, with a strong comeback record, Brand New, in 1988. It wasn't the Gary Stewart of old, but it was a respectable record, and it was enough to propel a comeback that continued with I'm a Texan. Stewart released the first live album of his career in 2003 with Live at Billy Bob's Texas, an album that proved that despite his low profile he was still a formidable honky tonker.
On November 26, 2003, the day before Thanksgiving, his wife of nearly 43 years, Mary Lou, died of pneumonia. Stewart, who had been scheduled to play Billy Bob's three days later, canceled his concert appearances. His friends later told reporters that he was extremely despondent after Mary Lou's death. On December 16, his daughter's boyfriend and Stewart's very close friend, Bill Hardman, visited his Fort Pierce, Florida, home to check on his welfare. They found Stewart dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the neck.
His heyday was in the '70s, but Gary Stewart deserved to be celebrated for his considerable talent, tenacity, and influence. (Info mainly All Music)


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Diz Disley born 27 May 1931


William Charles "Diz" Disley (27 May 1931 – 22 March 2010) was an Anglo-Canadian jazz guitarist, entertainer, and graphic designer. At various times he was a banjoist in traditional jazz bands, a cartoonist for Melody Maker, various national newspapers and on record sleeves, a guitarist of the Django Reinhardt school, and the moving force behind the revival of Stéphane Grappelli's career in the 1970s.
William Charles Disley was born in Winnipeg on May 27 1931 and brought to Britain at the age of four. He became keen on jazz while studying at Leeds College of Art and took up the banjo, playing with the Rotherham Jazz Hounds and other local bands. In 1949 he joined the Yorkshire Jazz Band, the most prominent revivalist band in the area.
Following National Service, he settled in London in 1953 and joined a series of professional bands, including that of Mick Mulligan, whose vocalist, George Melly, recalled the bearded Disley as having "the face of a satyr on his way to a cheerful orgy". During this period he began producing caricatures of his fellow musicians and cartoons which appeared regularly in the Melody Maker and on a variety of LP covers.
In the middle Fifties he played for bandleaders Ken Colyer, Cy Laurie and Sandy Brown. Having discovered the music of Django Reinhardt, Disley dropped the banjo in favour of the guitar, on which he developed an impressive technique. He formed a band, the Soho String Quintet, in imitation of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, which had been co-led by Reinhardt and Grappelli in the 1930s. Disley moved easily into the realms of folk clubs and skiffle music and worked in 1957 with Nancy Whiskey and Bob Cort. He worked occasionally for the BBC, presenting both jazz and pop programmes.
Despite his undoubted achievements in the fields of guitar-playing, band-leading and cartooning, Disley always gave the impression of being on his uppers. Melly observed that he had "a built-in anti-success mechanism", and he certainly had a talent for self-sabotage. He was forever missing appointments, and money seemed to melt away in his hands.

The turn into the Sixties saw him working with bands led by Kenny Ball, Alex Welsh and Dick Charlesworth and he became in demand in the now popular folk clubs. With trad music still thriving, he played in 1962 for Chris Barber and Acker Bilk and toured the Far East with pianist Johnny Parker and singer Beryl Bryden in 1963.

A budding career as a jazz radio presenter was cut short when he was briefly imprisoned for non-payment of bills. In addition, he was afflicted with extreme wanderlust. He would regularly drop everything to join a band in Germany, Denmark or some Middle Eastern outpost.
 
        Here's "Love Come Back To Me " from above album. 
                             

In 1973 Disley met Grappelli, then aged 65, whose career was not flourishing, and arranged for him to appear at the Cambridge Folk Festival, accompanied by a re-formed Hot Club band, led by Disley himself. The show was a triumph and relaunched Grappelli on the world stage. For the next 10 years, with interruptions, he and Disley toured the world four times, appearing at major venues,
including Carnegie Hall, New York.
In the early 1980s Disley formed a working partnership with the young gipsy guitarist Birelli Lagrene, with whom he again toured the world, and made a return visit to Carnegie Hall. Thereafter he resumed his wanderings. He lived in Spain for some years, opening a jazz club in Almeria in 1988.
Diz with Ray Campi
Returning to Britain in the 1990s he toured regularly with Dick Laurie's Elastic Band, toured with Johnny Silvo in 2001 and continued to lead his quintet. He free-lanced in Europe and spent several years in Los Angeles where he recorded with the blues saxophonist Big Jay McNeely and country-rockabilly artist Ray Campi. He also painted several now sought-after portraits of jazz greats, including Illinois Jacquet, in the style of the cubists.
In his final years of playing he used a cheap and inferior guitar that he coupled to an amplifier left here many years ago by the American guitarist Al Casey. The BBC had paid national insurance on Disley's behalf during the comparatively brief period he had worked for it. But otherwise the guitarist had made no provision for his old age and when he became ill in his last years he was impoverished and penniless. He spent the last two years in a home for old people and early during 2010 Disley's health took a serious turn for the worse, and he was admitted to the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, on 2 February. He died on 21 March 2010.
(Info edited from The Telegraph & Independent obits)

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Pha Terrell born 25 May 1910


Elmer "Pha" Terrell (May 25, 1910 in Kansas City, Missouri - October 14, 1945 in Los Angeles) was an American jazz singer with a smooth, mellow baritone, but was also capable of singing in falsetto, a popular feature among the singers of the time.
Pha Terrell, (pronounced Fay) sometimes known to his friends as Elmer, was discovered by Kirk in the early '30s while toiling as a combination of dancer, singer, and semi-hustler at a Kansas City club. Terrell sang with the Kirk band between 1933 and 1941.
 
                              
Available recordings by this singer can basically be evenly split between Kirk collections and various compilations based on themes such as early R&B and the Kansas City scene. His biggest hit with the Kirk outfit was the patient "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" in 1936. and 1938's "I Won't Tell a Soul (I Love You)".

 
In addition to his first number one hit in 1936, was the song "All the Jive Is Gone" from 1937, this was probably Terrell's best performance. Willfried Wald spoke critically about the high tenors of the Swingara, such as Dan Grissom and Pha Terrell, "who replaced the influences of blues and jazz with something that sounded like a hiss with an open mouth, and on the genuine, but not at all, unpleasant tradition of black falset singing ".  A follower of Terrell's singing style was the young Earl Coleman.

 
The character of Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy would change in the 40’s when Mary Lou Williams left, followed by the departure of Pha Terrell. He headed for Indianapolis, at that time a thriving jazz centre. He worked there in Clarence Love's Orchestra, often tying knots in whatever strings of one-nighters were available to this type of territory band. Like just about any stand-up singer, Terrell eventually decided to go it alone, a career move that in his case he made out on the West Coast. A kidney ailment took him down when he was just getting started. And he died of kidney failure in Los Angeles,1945.

 
(There is very scant info on the web. This bio mainly edited from All Music & Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sylvester Ahola born 24 May 1902

 
Sylvester Ahola (May 24, 1902 – February 13, 1995) was a classic jazz trumpeter and cornetist born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He became most popular in England rather than the United State. He has played the trumpet on 2,000 records and been part of fifty orchestras and jazz bands.
Sylvester was one of the great musicians during a unique period in American musical culture-from the growth of jazz through the Depression to the development of commercial radio. After a classical training, Ahola's prolific recording career among the top bands of the age, in both America and England, was a tribute to the skill and mastery of his chosen instrument. His career as a first-rate studio musician found him equally at ease with classical trumpet solos, light orchestral music, popular dance band tunes, and in groups accompanying such great singers as Paul Robeson and Sophie Tucker.
 
He was also responsible, in no small way, for establishing a style of "hot" jazz-flavored playing among emerging British dance bands. His, however, is a story of anonymity.
He was known as "Hooley," came from a Finnish family, and began playing drums at the ripe age of six, graduating to blowing cornet and trumpet a few years later. He would continue doubling on the two horns throughout his career, becoming known for a vivid soloing style that put him in the same technical league as much more famous trumpeters, such as his two main models, Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols.
  
 
                                  
Ahola cut his first recordings under the auspices of bandleader Frank E. Ward in 1924, but these tracks were never released commercially. The trumpeter then joined Paul Specht's Orchestra in the outset of 1926, staying in this group a year before joining the Ed Kirkeby band. Ahola then made his earliest recordings of any renown with the California Ramblers. From there, he stayed with Peter Van Steeden's orchestra until late 1927 when he was hired to sail to England and play with the Savoy Orpheans.
This may not have been a job with a bearded lifespan, but the accomplished Ahola had no trouble finding trumpet-blowing gigs all around London. His talents included the ability to lead a horn section as well as blow good solos. Ahola was heard in the Jack Harris band before picking up a somewhat more high-profile trumpet seat in the Ambrose Orchestra in late 1928. Throughout the late '20s he was frequently working in recording studios, cutting sides with the studio bands at labels such as Zonophone, where he worked with the conducting brothers Bert and John Firman. He also collaborated with music director Arthur Lally at Decca sessions. He remained with Ambrose into the summer of 1931 in a job that, like the various studio bands, featured a mixture of British, European, and American players. 
 The same players overlapped on a half-dozen band busses. Americans such as guitarist Joe Brannelly and reed player Perley Breed joined up with Ambrose at the same time as the British jazzman Ted Heath. Also in 1928, Ahola was playing with Reg Batten & His New Savoy Orpheans with Irving Brodsky on piano. In 1929, Ahola was featured with Ray Noble & His Orchestra in the trumpet feature "Copper Blues," one of the only forms of copper that doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouth.
In 1931, the trumpeter showed up back in the United States in order to play with Van Steeden once again. A few recording sessions with Ed Kirkeby in the early '30s represent his last brass words recorded for posterity, an Ahola that pretty much means aloha. He joined the NBC staff orchestra along with colleague Jacques Renard and continued with this type of work until retiring in 1940.
At this point he returned to his home town on the New England seaside, becoming so closely associated with the town that he became known as the "Gloucester Gabriel." He played both trumpet and percussion with the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra in his final years. Aloha's best recordings include the tracks "So Does Your Old Mandarin," a frightening pun, and "Crazy World, Crazy Tune," an inevitable conclusion. The second of two Rhythmic Eight reissues on the Mello label has a whopping portion of top-form Ahola, fine examples of the trumpeter's work in tandem with arranger Lally. A biography of Ahola was published as part of the Studies in Jazz at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers State University.
Ahola died  February 13, 1995 in Lanesville, Essex County, Massachusetts.
 (Info mainly All Music also intro to Dick Hills autobiography -The Gloucester Gabriel (Studies in Jazz)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Libby Holman born 23 May 1904


Elizabeth Lloyd Holzman, best known as Libby Holman (May 23, 1904 – June 18, 1971), was an American torch singer and stage actress who also achieved notoriety for her complex and unconventional personal life.
Elizabeth Lloyd Holzman was born May 23, 1904, in Cincinnati, Ohio to a Jewish lawyer and stockbroker, Alfred Holzman and his wife, Rachel Florence Workum Holzman. Their other children were daughter Marion H. Holzman and son Alfred Paul Holzman.
In 1904, the wealthy family grew destitute after Holman's uncle Ross Holzman embezzled nearly $1 million of their stock brokerage business. At some point, Alfred changed the family name from Holzman to Holman. She graduated from Hughes High School on June 11, 1920, at the age of 16. She attended the University of Cincinnati where she graduated from on June 16, 1923, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Holman later subtracted two years from her age, insisting she was born in 1906, the year she gave the Social Security Administration as the year of her birth.
In the summer of 1924, Holman left for New York City, where she first lived at the Studio Club. Her first theatre job in New York was in the road company of The Fool. Channing Pollock, the writer of The Fool, recognized Holman's talents immediately and advised her to pursue a theatrical career.
She followed Pollock's advice and soon became a star. An early stage colleague who became a longtime close friend was future film star Clifton Webb, then a dancer. He gave her the nickname, "The Statue of Libby." Her Broadway theatre debut was in the play The Sapphire Ring in 1925 at the Selwyn Theatre, which closed after thirteen performances. She was billed as Elizabeth Holman.
She played minor roles in Broadway musicals such as Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s The Garrick Gaieties (1925), but became a featured star in Merry-Go-Round (1927), and Rainbow (1928), in which she gave a languorous performance of ‘I Want A Man’.
Her big break came while she was appearing with Clifton Webb and Fred Allen in the 1929 Broadway revue The Little Show, in which she first sang the blues number, "Moanin' Low" by Ralph Rainger, which earned her a dozen curtain calls on opening night, drew raves from the critics and became her signature song. Also in that show, she sang the Kay Swift and Paul James song, "Can't We Be Friends?" After making the US Top 10 in 1929 with ‘Am I Blue?’, she was acclaimed a major star. Holman received rave reviews for her sultry renditions of ‘Body And Soul’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ in Three’s A Crowd (1930).
 
                              
 
One of Holman's signature looks was the strapless dress, which she has been credited with having invented, or at least being one of its first high-profile wearers.

Her career declined following the shooting of her husband Zachary Smith Reynolds. She was accused of his murder but the case was declared nolle prosequi, and never came to court.
Holman returned to Broadway in Revenge With Music (1934), in which she introduced Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s insinuating ‘You And The Night And The Music’, and subsequently appeared in Cole Porter’s You Never Know (1938). Sadly, she never achieved her former heights.
During the early 40s she caused a furore by appearing as a double-act with black folk singer Josh White, playing clubs and concerts in an era when a black male and white female stage relationship was frowned upon by many bookers and critics.
Holman continued touring during the 50s presenting a programme called Blues, Ballads And Sin Songs, but still controversy followed her when she befriended ill-fated screen idol, Montgomery Clift. One of her last performances was at the United Nations in New York in 1966. She performed her trademark song, "Moanin' Low."
For many years, Holman reportedly suffered from depression from the combined effects of the deaths of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the recent presidential election loss by Eugene McCarthy, her anguish over the untimely death of her own son and the illness and rapid deterioration of her friend Jane Bowles. She also was considered never the same after the death of Montgomery Clift in 1966.

On June 18, 1971, Holman was found nearly dead in the front seat of her Rolls Royce by her household staff. She was taken to the hospital where she died hours later. Holman's death was officially ruled a suicide due to acute carbon monoxide poisoning. In view of her frequent bouts with depression and reported past suicide attempts, none of Holman's friends or relatives was surprised by her death. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at “Treetops,”  (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Horace Heidt born 21 May 1901


Horace Heidt (May 21, 1901–December 1, 1986) was an American pianist, big band leader, and radio and television personality. His band, Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights, toured vaudeville and performed on radio and television through the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Alameda, California. He obtained a good education, studied piano as a boy, attended Culver Military Academy and while playing football for the University of California at Berkeley, he sustained a back injury ending his football career. Horace began entertaining playing the piano culminating in the formation of his own band, Horace Heidt and His Californians in 1922. By 1929 the band had achieved national recognition and in the mid 1930’s had its first radio broadcast.
From 1932 to 1953, he was one of the more popular radio bandleaders, heard on both NBC and CBS in a variety of different formats over the years. He began on the NBC Blue Network in 1932 with Shell Oil's Ship of Joy and Answers by the Dancers. During the late 1930s on CBS he did Captain Dobbsie's Ship of Joy and Horace Heidt's Alemite Brigadeers before returning to NBC for 1937-39 broadcasts.


 Singer Matt Dennis got his start with Heidt's band, and Art Carney as the band's singing comedian. The Heidt band's recordings were highly-successful with "Gone with the Wind" going to No. 1 in 1937 and "Ti-Pi-Tin" to No. 1 in 1938. In 1939, "The Man with the Mandolin" ranked No. 2 on the charts.
 
                           

His NBC Pot o' Gold radio show (1939–41) was the basis for a 1941 film of the same title. Produced by James Roosevelt (son of the U.S. president) and directed by George Marshall, the film starred James Stewart and Paulette Goddard, and it featured Heidt portraying himself with his band. Carney can be glimpsed in some of the film's musical numbers. The movie gives a fairly accurate
depiction of Heidt's radio show but features staged sequences, such as a scene in which a Minnesota farmer (allegedly phoned at random by Heidt during his radio show) is played by well-known character actor John Qualen.
From 1940–44 he did Tums Treasure Chest, followed by 1943–45 shows on the Blue Network. Lucky Strike sponsored The American Way on CBS in 1953.
On December 7, 1947, NBC launched The Horace Heidt Youth Opportunity Program and accordionist Dick Contino, the first winner of the $5,000 prize, soon had his own show. Heidt's talent search catapulted such performers as Art Carney, Frankie Carle, Gordon MacRae, the King Sisters, Alvino Rey, Frank DeVol and Al Hirt. When the program expanded from radio to television in 1950, it was one of the first talent shows on TV. Other winners included the Philharmonics and vocalist Ralph Sigwald.
Heidt was often considered a tyrant by his musicians. He would dismiss almost any one of them in an instant if he felt like it. Alyce King discovered this one night when she knocked over a microphone during a radio program. Heidt's orchestra had been chosen for the show on the strength of King's vocals, and Heidt felt upstaged. He used the opportunity of her clumsiness to fire her. Heidt, however, also encouraged his staff to fraternize. Though designed to promote togetherness the strategy backfired on this occasion. When King left so did all her sisters and their musician boyfriends, including Rey.
With fame, Heidt moved into the then-new Brentwood
neighbourhood of West Los Angeles at 1525 San Vicente Boulevard. He bought the mansion from the widow of a retired dentist, which offered stunning views of Santa Monica Canyon, overlooking the Riviera Country Club and Catalina Island on a clear day. The expansive chateau-style residence, featured in 1927 on the cover of the rotogravure magazine Pictorial California, has long since been razed and the property subdivided.
Heidt was from his college days an astute show-business entrepreneur making many shrewd investments. He purchased the West Coast Trianon Ballroom booking many famous entertainers including Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden. His financial base was involved, diverse and very successful.

He chose to retire from show business and devote his entire time to running his ventures. He even started "The Horace Heidt School for Stammering", very relative because he had suffered from this very speech affliction which he corrected by sheer tenacity. Residing in Sherman Oaks, California, he continued operating a real estate business in the San Fernando Valley until his death at age eighty five. Admitted to a Los Angeles hospital, he died from pneumonia complications December 1, 1986.   (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Solid!)

Hot Lips performed on Family Night Hosted By Horace Heidt Featuring Al Hirt, Red Nichols, and Pete Candoli.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Gil Garfield born 20 May 1933


Gil Garfield (May 20, 1933 - Jan 01, 2011) was a singer, songwriter, producer and a former member of the 1950s vocal group The Cheers.
Gilbert I. Garfield was born May 20, 1933, in Los Angeles to Harriet and Harold Garfield. His father owned a chain of drugstores throughout Los Angeles and later expanded his business into real estate. Gil graduated from North Hollywood High School and was a business major at USC.
While in college, he began singing in area nightclubs. He was encouraged to record, and he eventually formed the Cheers in 1954 with fellow singers Sue Allen and Bert Convy, who became known as an actor and game-show host.
 
 
The Cheers recorded a Top 10 single, Leiber & Stoller's "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots," in 1955. The trio hit the Billboard charts again with Leiber & Stoller's "Bazoom! I Need Your Lovin'," and they recorded several demos of other Leiber & Stoller tunes.

"(Bazoom) I Need Your Lovin'." hit number three on the U.S. chart in 1954. This was the first hit written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to chart on the Pop charts in the United States, and was one of the first rock and roll hits by a white group (after The Crew Cuts and Bill Haley and the Comets).
The Cheers disbanded in 1957. Gil then became a freelance songwriter and publisher who joined forces friend Perry Botkin Jr. to form a publishing company called Rock Music Inc., on Vine Street. The two men wrote several songs together of which the most successful was “Passion Flower.” Their own recording of it with the Fraternity Brothers charted at number 3 in Italy during 1958 and the song was also a success in France under the title “Tout L’Amour.” During the 60’s Garfield & Botkin and others, including Harry Nilsson, collaborated on words and music on such recordings as "Wonderful Summer," by Robin Ward, and "Paradise" by the Ronettes.
By the 70’s Garfield & Botkin sold their Rock Music Inc. catalogue, including virtually all of Nilsson’s early songs for $150,000 to Beechwood, the publishing arm of capitol Records.
Gil & Suzanne Garfield
In 1971, Gil and his sister Suzanne Garfield invented the "Pan-T-Boot." As Time described, the "Pan-T-Boot" was "a girdle, stretch pants, hosiery, and shoes all rolled into one." The Pan-T-Boot was offered in a series of bold monochromatic colours and floral prints—much like those designed by Gvasalia. They reportedly sold out as soon as they hit the shelves in New York City.
Garfield then became successful in real estate, refurbishing and reselling houses, later in the 90’s turning to painting and collecting contemporary art.
 In 2002 Garfield had a liver transplant and was a generous supporter of the Dumont UCLA Liver Transplant Centre and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
Gil died at The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 77. He was completing a semi-autobiographical musical at the time of his death. 

(Info very scant but comprised from various sources)