William and Ann Gilliland, during their courtship, 1950
In 1952, Gilliland drove his new bride down to Mexico in a convertible black Cadillac, where he struck up a conversation with a Latino drummer named Adamos, who W.R.G. thought extremely talented, and turned out to be one of Buddy Holly’s drummers, when Holly played south of the border. After the two hit it off, the honeymooners found themselves sitting at the front table of every nightclub in Mexico City.
Gilliland’s son, Bill, who inherited his library, describes his father: “W.R.G. was a ‘book’ man interested in music, primarily jazz, and the printed word in the broadest sense. At the beginning of his career, he managed the McMurray bookstore on Commerce Street, Dallas, Texas, later to be bought out by Doubleday. He is in the Warren Commission report and was questioned by the FBI about why he was in Jack Ruby’s phone book. I’m sure he cheerfully explained that, at the time, parts of Dallas were ‘dry’ in 1964, and he was a ‘member’ at Ruby’s club, where he could have a mixed drink after work with others as he pleased.”
Naked Lunch pre-publication material, back cover
Gilliland was president of the Dallas Jazz Society and a Beatnik at heart. This past August, in one of their last conversations, speaking from his deathbed at Baylor Hospital, Bill quotes his father as saying, “I love chick writers.”
Printed metal plate, LA County Sheriff’s Department, c. 1966
On the Road, first edition
This is actually a marker for a picture that we couldn’t find. Bill searched high and low, looking for a black-and-white photograph he inherited of Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady in the back of Ken Kesey’s magic bus, when they passed through Texas in the sixties. Bill now suspects that someone stole it from his house during a party, years ago, and I much preferred the idea that it had simply disappeared, mysteriously vanished into the sands of time, than that dark thought. However, should the photo ever be found, we will post it here. CE
Andy Warhol’s America, first edition, front cover
“Everybody has their own America, and then they have the pieces of a fantasy America that they think is out there but they can’t see. When I was little, I never left Pennsylvania, and I used to have fantasies about the things that I thought were happening in the Midwest, or down South, or in Texas, that I felt I was missing out on. But you can only live life in one place at a time. And your own life while it’s happening to you never has any atmosphere until it’s a memory. So the fantasy corners of America seem so atmospheric because you’ve pieced them together from scenes in movies and music and lines from books. And you live in your dream America that you’ve custom-made from art and schmaltz and emotions just as you live in your real one.” p. 8, America
Andy Warhol, The Index Book, first edition of art book with pop-up art, front cover
Andy Warhol, The Index Book, back cover
Dennis Hopper, introduction to Out of the Sixties, a gift to W.R.G.
Dennis Hopper sketch for William R. Gilliland, Dallas, Texas, c. 1986
Museum of Modern Art printed metal plate, 1968
Andy Warhol, Lonesome Cowboy, press manual front cover
“Texas really is ‘the land of the free,’ because when a Texan gets money or power, they immediately go out and do whatever they’ve always wanted to do, and they never think about what other people might think or say about it. And they do it all in a big, big way.
But that bigness has two sides. In Houston, the city is so spread out that the police can’t keep on top of it all, and the criminals and the con artists see all that space and think: unlimited opportunity.
I always thought cowboys looked like hustlers. That’s nice. Cowboys and hustlers are quiet. They don’t know many words.” p. 165, America
Andy Warhol, Lonesome Cowboy, press manual back cover
“I was once at a Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Museum, and they served pink champagne at the party, which tasted so good I made the mistake of drinking a lot of it, and on the way home we had to pull over to the side of the road so I could throw up on the flora and fauna. In California, in the cool night air, you even felt healthy when you puked—it was so different from New York.
Tab Hunter should star in the movie of my life. People would be happier imagining that I was as handsome as that. I mean, the real Bonnie and Clyde sure didn’t look like Faye and Warren. Who wants the truth?” p. 179, America
Longtime friend Larry McMurtry gave Gilliland his original copy of The Last Picture Show treatment, complete with notes the author wrote W.R.G. about the cast and crew.
William R. Gilliland (1927–2010), c. 1956