William R. Gilliland

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, 8‑page pre-pub­li­ca­tion mate­r­i­al with com­men­tary by Terry Southern, E.S. Seldon, et al., front cover

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