Harlem of the West

The San Francisco Fillmore Jazz Era

John Terry Hillard

John Terry Hilliard


John Terry Hilliard was born in 1936 in Illinois, moving to the Bay Area with his parents in 1938. He grew up with a musical family in Oakland and Berkeley, and learned to play several instruments before falling in love with the stringed bass while at Berkeley High School. Initially drawn to country western music, he was turned on to jazz and The Fillmore by one of his teachers, Alameda pianist Merrill Hoover, who later accompanied Anita O’Day for 20 years. Hilliard’s first band was a trio with Johnny Mathis as the singer, and later Hilliard was part of the Bop City house band as well as Eddie Alley’s group. Hilliard continues to live in Oakland and play around the Bay Area.


INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTION Harlem of the West SF Project Interview: John Terry Hilliard Interviewer: Elizabeth Pepin Silva

Copyright 2017, Elizabeth Pepin Silva/ Harlem of the West SF Project

Please contact the Harlem of the West SF Project if you would like to use any part of the interview. Use is free, but the Harlem of the West SF Project must be credited. The entire interview may not be reproduced.


ELIZABETH PEPIN SILVA: Please tell me your name and age?

TERRY HILLIARD: My name is JOHN TERRY HILLIARD, and I’m 79 years old.

EPS: What instrument do you play?

TERRY HILLIARD: I play the string bass.

EPS: And where were you raised?

TERRY HILLIARD: I was born in Illinois, but I was raised in California, moved here, I was born in 1936. But we moved here in 1938, so I was 2 years old, so I don’t remember Illinois. But I do remember the Bay Area, that’s where I was raised.

EPS: What part of the area?

TERRY HILLIARD: Berkeley and Oakland.

EPS: Did you go to Berkeley High?

TERRY HILLIARD: I went to Berkeley High School. Yes.

EPS: What was your first instrument?

TERRY HILLIARD: First instrument was trumpet. And then I went to baritone horn then to guitar, and in my junior year in Berkeley High School, I started playing string bass. And fell in love with the string bass.

EPS: Was jazz the first type of music you played?

TERRY HILLIARD: No, actually it wasn’t. Actually western music was. I enjoyed the Grand Ole Opry. It used to come on at 6 AM in the morning (LAUGHS) and I would get up before school and listen to Chet Akins and people like that. Playing guitar, so that’s how I got turned onto the guitar. Yeah. And we had a little, in middle school, we had a country western band.

EPS: Was your family musically inclined?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yes, my mother was a classical pianist. And Mom and my brothers, you know, played instruments (LAUGHS)

EPS: How many in your family played?

TERRY HILLIARD: There were just two brothers, I have two brothers, and one playing trombone, the other one played violin, only for a short period of time. We all had to play the piano, of course. 'Cos our mother was a piano teacher. So we all took piano lessons.

EPS: Is she the one who encouraged you to become a professional musician? How did that whole thing happen?

TERRY HILLIARD: Oh, yeah, yeah. It happened in kind of a strange way. First it was her, then when I was in high school, just starting high school, maybe a junior in high school, I was playing guitar, and my father introduced me to a band at the Larks Club on Sacramento and Ashby (in Berkeley, CA). And I started playing with them on Black Diamond Street in Pittsburgh (CA), and I played rhythm guitar with a blues band, that’s how I started. So I didn’t have a car, so I walked down from the house, down to Sacramento and Ashby and get on the van and we’d head out to San Pablo have new Highway 4, and all the way out to Pittsburgh, and play our music. And head back.

EPS: How old were you?

TERRY HILLIARD: I was a junior in high school. (laughs) So I was 16, 17, yeah. So that’s how I started.

EPS: So how did you get into jazz?

TERRY HILLIARD: I got into jazz through Arthur Fletcher and Merrill Hoover. And I met them when I was a senior in high school.

EPS: Who are they?

TERRY HILLIARD: Ok, well, Arthur Fletcher is a pianist. He was classically trained but a jazz pianist. And we started studying with Merrill Hoover who was already a jazz musician. He ended up with Anita Day for 20 years. As her accompanist. But he was local, from Alameda, his name was Meryl Hoover, he studied at San Francisco State, graduated from there. And he taught in Marin for a while. Marin Community College. But he traveled for about 20 years with Anita. But before that, he was giving lessons at his house. He lived here in Oakland. And so we’d go to his house and take jazz lessons. He knew all the musicians. It was amazing.

EPS: How did you hear about the Fillmore?

TERRY HILLIARD: Through Meryl. Yeah. 'Cos he used to hang out over there and play a lot. And so I heard through him, and then when I got to San Francisco State, Johnny Mathis was still there, so Johnny and we started playing a trio together and stuff, play at the Gator Swamp, which is the student union, and then we started playing the Fillmore at the Blue Mirror and Booker T Washington Hotel, doing little parties, that type of thing.

EPS: So your first jazz band was with Johnny Mathis?

TERRY HILLIARD: Basically yeah, the first professional band was with him, Alberto Gonzales and Johnny Mathis, Johnny Mathis was a singer in the group. Yeah. And it was like 1954, ’55.

EPS: How old were you then?

TERRY HILLIARD: I was 18. And 19 years old. I couldn’t join the union 'til I was 21, so I couldn’t join the union 'til 1957, and at that time, unions were segregated. As you know. So I joined 669, which was the black union. (musician’s union)

EPS: What was the Fillmore like?

TERRY HILLIARD: Well, it was, I mean, I was a student. Enjoying music. I went to San Francisco State to learn music, that’s it. I didn’t go there to learn to be a teacher or anything. I just went there because I knew musicians who went there and I got a chance to hang out with them, and play a lot of music. And so that’s why I went there, and I studied electronics in the background, 'cos I had an interest in computers in the background. But anyway, I just continued, that’s how I met a lot of the musicians, that’s where I met Alberto Gonzales and the sextet, and that was a great band. We had a lot of fun. It’s hard to describe that band 'cos it’s, we played a lot of music which was arranged by Jerry Canoya (sp?). Who was a wonderful arranger, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Jerry- you have ok. And so Jerry, yeah, Jerry did our arranging for us, that’s when I first met him. And he just arranges great tunes. And we actually played in the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1958 with that band.

EPS: With Johnny Mathis?

TERRY HILLIARD: No, with the Alberto Gonzales Band. And that was my first road band. And let’s see, it was around 1957 I left the Bay Area and went to LA. With Alberto Gonzales. And stayed there for about a year. And we had fun.

EPS: Let’s go back to the Fillmore – so when you and Johnny Mathis started the band, you were very young?

TERRY HILLIARD: He was in college, we were all in college. He was of course a couple of years ahead of me. He was a junior and then, so, I only knew him for the two years, junior and senior year. And after his senior year, he was gone. But he took off.

EPS: You’re still underage, so how did you play clubs?

TERRY HILLIARD: We just did. We would play, for instance, we’d play on a weekday. We drew our own crowd. We only got paid for the door. Like with Johnny, his brother, Freddie, would collect the money at the door for us. And we’d play, you know, so that’s how that worked. And no one really asked any questions. You know? (laughs)

EPS: Did you know Leola King?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yes, yes. I can’t really describe her. 'Cos I just met her briefly.

EPS: What about the club? Can you describe the club?

TERRY HILLIARD: That would be hard for me to do that. I just – I remember we had a stage, we would play in there, and we were gonna get our sextet up there, and Johnny and the, and it was like a dance floor in front of the stage. So people could dance.

EPS: People danced?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yes, people did dance. And it was like a cocktail setting, maybe, like, if I remember correctly. Like cocktail tables and chairs. And that’s all I remember about it.

EPS: Were the girls already going after Johnny?

TERRY HILLIARD: Of course. And then I played the Jimbo’s Bop City. With Federico Cervantes was the piano player. And the drummer was Smiley Winters. We had the trio. And Federico didn’t play in there, he’d just brings in different people to play with him. So I was only there for a few months. But that was fun.

EPS: Were you the house band? (at Bop City)

TERRY HILLIARD: We were the house band. He was the house band, he would hire, Federico would hire people to come in and play. So he hired Smiley Winters and me to play. He had a trio and all these horn players would come and play, set up, you know, we, we’d go through all these keys to trick ‘em, to get ‘em off the stage, and change the tempos, you know? These guys were funny. (laughs) It was a lot of fun.

EPS: So describe Jimbo’s Bop City. It would open up after all the other clubs closed,


EPS: And then would you guys… So the doors would open at two, and you guys would just be the three of you on stage and then slowly people would come? I mean how did that all work?

TERRY HILLIARD: Well, it was pretty causal, the environment. For one thing, all they sold were setups there. So they sold setups and, and everybody brought their own thing. And then the crowds, so the crowd was pretty loose by that time of night, anyway. And then the, a lot of the horn players would be around the bandstand, ready to play. And it was up to Federico to organize it. So he would organize who was gonna play when, how many were gonna play. It was that kind of a thing, kind of like a check-in with him and you could come up and play. It was kind of organized, everybody’s getting up there at the same time, that would be ridiculous.

EPS: And I heard if you got up and if you weren’t good enough he’d chuck you off?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yes, He chucked you off.

EPS: What was Jimbo like?

TERRY HILLIARD: He was, the last time I saw Jimbo, of course, was at that affair we went to when they did the awarding people with the Fillmore Legend thing. Remember that? That’s the last time I saw Jimbo. But I met him then back in the ‘50s. And he was just a guy who really knew how to manage a club, you know, and he had that relationship with the police, so that everything was under control. I never saw any fights, no problems. Everything was completely under control. He was really good.

EPS: How did he have that relationship?

TERRY HILLIARD: I don’t know, exactly (LAUGHS). I don’t know it could have happened. I don’t know but he had a real good relationship with them. And people felt safe to come down there, and all kinds of people came, all races, it didn’t matter, you know? All kinds of people came through. You know?

EPS: And I heard a lot of celebrities were there?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, they’d come through. Armando Peraza liked to come through and jam. That’s the first time I met Armando and there were just other people you know, that came through there and jammed.

EPS: What were some of your most favorite people who came through there?

TERRY HILLIARD: Brew Moore. Brew Moore was a wonderful saxophone player. Leo Wright, of course, John Handy. Frank Fisher would come down and play. Wow. What a list of people. There were just tremendous people.

EPS: Were you there when Coltrane played?

TERRY HILLIARD: No, I missed Coltrane. I remember him. He may have been there, I didn’t know him. Didn’t meet him. But Richard “Notes” Williams, trumpet player, he was really good. We had some good players.

EPS: Chuck Baker?

TERRY HILLIARD: No, not Chuck Baker, no, I didn’t play with him. Pharoah Sanders liked to come through and jam. In fact, my first time I played with him was at a big band that used to meet at different party in here in Oakland. And that’s where I first met him. See, I can’t remember all the folks’ names. But they had some wonderful players, yeah.

EPS: Jazz was the music in the early to late ‘50s? So the Fillmore was ground zero in a way.

TERRY HILLIARD: Jacks on Sutter, and then you know, I met a lot of the musicians like Eddie Alley, Earl Watkins, Sammy Simpson. You know, all these folks, they were just (LAUGHS) hanging out.

EPS: Did you see Billie Holiday ever?

TERRY HILLIARD: I met her. Yeah. I met her oh, wow, we were at the Black Hawk, and she was staying next door. The Black Hawk had apartments next door to the club, and that’s where artists would stay there. So Billie Holiday. She came out with her, hugging her little dog. And just, and so we all just chatted, you know? And it was just, just a nice person, you know? Just groovy. Just out there hanging out with people. You know? It was amazing, she just came out and then she went on back to her room, you know?

EPS: Did you get to hear her sing?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah. Wonderful. All the great groups. We got to hear all the great groups at the Black Hawk. (66 Hyde, San Francisco) Because you know they had MJQ. The list just goes on and on. Was probably Jeannie Wright playing – Dave Brubeck, Dave Brubeck, Pappa Gene Wright was bassist with that group. Oscar Peterson with Ray Brown, that’s how, that’s when I met Ray Brown. So I got to meet all these great bass players, you know, down there at the Black Hawk, 'cos Merrell knew all these people, Merrell Hoover. He knew all these people so we would go.

EPS: Did you play with Eddie Alley, or his brother Vernon?

TERRY HILLIARD: I spent 20 years with Eddie Alley. I played with his Gentleman Rhythm Band. With PeeWee Claybrook. And Thomas Kahn. I’m gonna show you after we get through with this a picture in there of Thomas Kahn, when he was playing with, if you go to the last page of your book, you’ll find a picture in there of Thomas Kahn. With the McVeigh out of New Orleans, there’s a picture of them going on, getting on the bus. I think it’s towards the end. The guy at the end with the suitcase, Thomas Kahn. That’s him and Thomas (LAUGHS) with the suitcase. And we called him Crow, that was his nickname. And he was one of my mentors. And he lived here in Berkeley near San Pablo Park, that’s where he lived. And he was the pianist with Eddie Alley’s band. Thomas Kahn.

EPS: Was the Fillmore a place where people would go for, you know, get there at 5 O’clock in the evening and not leave until 6am the next day?

TERRY HILLIARD: You know, I was in and out of there, you know, because I played other places, you know, because I was playing in the East Bay, too. Yeah, we played, we had a band, we played a lot for the sororities and fraternities at Cal and up and down Telegraph, different clubs, up and down Telegraph. And then after hours, we’d go over to there, so, I don’t know when the people showed up, they were just there when we got there. And they’re usually there when we left. (LAUGHS) You know? It’s amazing. I don’t know how people live like that.

EPS: Was the neighborhood nice or was it already starting to get run down?

TERRY HILLIARD: I didn’t really notice anything rundown about it. And I always felt very safe. I had bought a car in 1953, it was an Oldsmobile Rocket 88. My first car, you know? So I had transportation starting in ’53, so I was able to get over there, you know, that’s why I didn’t start playing over there until ’53.

EPS: Do you think the Fillmore… I mean, the early to mid-50s, that was racial restrictions…

TERRY HILLIARD: There was racial restrictions, but I played with an interracial band. That was one of the things, Alberto Gonzales Sextet was interracial. See, there were two of us who were black, couple of Italians and a couple of white guys in the band. So there were six of us.

EPS: There weren’t problems?

TERRY HILLIARD: There were racial things, like if we played at, say at Fairmont Hotel, ok? We could only enter through the kitchen. And you exit through the kitchen. That was just a known fact, you know, it wasn’t no big deal. But that’s the way it was. You didn’t go through the front door. Yeah, but that’s just the way it was, you know? And there were a lot of band who couldn’t even play at the Fairmont. I mean, unless you were playing with a named, in some named act. You know, if it wasn’t a Billie Holiday or Sarah Vaughn or something like that, you weren’t even getting into the Fairmont. If you were a black man, you were playing in the Fillmore. You weren’t crossing Van Ness.

EPS: Do you think there a particular Fillmore sound? Or did guys play all kinds of music?

TERRY HILLIARD: You know, I think the sound was the same as over here in Oakland. Like, we had to play here in Oakland, the same people played there. You had Leo Wright, Notes Williams, Skippy Warren on bass. I mean, they’re, all these guys from here and they’d be playing over at the, you know, in the Fillmore, too. So it was the same music.

EPS: So then maybe I should rephrase it – do you think there a Bay Area jazz sound that differed from, say, Chicago?


EPS: Can you talk a little about that?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, I think we had our own sound here. And I don’t know what that was caused by. I don’t know, but I grew up through like I say, Defirmary Park, the big band, with the, all those guys – I’m trying to think of all their names now. It’s hard to remember the names of all those guys that was in that band, but those are the guys I grew up around, and they had a musical, a music school here that was really good. And we were all studying there. Can’t remember all the names of these places. But anyway, but that’s where we got our sound was through our studies. Studying with Merrill Hoover, studying at the music school here in Oakland. Candells is the name of it. The Candells Music School, and a lot of us were there. And all, we all knew each other. And then we would play in homes, we’d get together and jam.

EPS: Like house parties?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, house parties. And we’d jam, so and we developed our own sound. Then we’d be listening, so we would listen to all the music, we listened to all the bands. And we’d kind of combine the sound into our own sound. So I think that’s why it was different. It wasn’t a specific sound like you could hear the Kansas City sound, you had New Orleans sound. You have the New York sound. The, they called it the West Coast sound, you remember all that. It wasn’t like that. We blended it all into one sound that we liked to play. And that’s the way it was, and it depends who you were playing with what kind of sound you got. You’re playing with a big band, you know, you get one kind of a sound. You know, and it might be Rudy Salvini’s band, or one of those bands. So I always played with integrated bands, mostly, except the blues bands on Black Diamond Street. Those were black bands. And that was blues. (LAUGHS) That was downright blues.

EPS: Where is Black Diamond Street?

TERRY HILLIARD: It’s in Pittsburgh (CA).

EPS: Oh that was the club you were talking about.

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah. That was blues.

EPS: Pittsburg had a large African American community?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, because of the armed forces there, they had a big Army –Naval thing going on, and that was, there were jobs. You know? Sure. So they had their own area where they, it’s just like the Fillmore, there were clubs just like the Fillmore, all lined up on Black Diamond Street and people would come there and party. This, it looked just like the Fillmore. It was hard to tell the difference between the East Bay and the Fillmore, there was no big difference.

EPS: Did you ever meet Charles Sullivan?

TERRY HILLIARD: Charles Sullivan, no. I remember the name, no I didn’t meet him.

EPS: He ran the Fillmore Auditorium and –

TERRY HILLIARD: We did shows there when I was with Cal Tjader.

EPS: Oh, you did?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, we played the Fillmore, we played shows with Jefferson Airplane and Creedence Clearwater. They mixed them up. This is you know, a production thing, you know? With Bill Graham, yeah. Right. So we did a lot of that.

EPS: How did you get hooked up with Cal?

TERRY HILLIARD: That was interesting. I was back in here…I’d been in the Army and I got out of the Army in 1960. And I was drafted, I played music, special services, that’s all I did. Then I came home, and I started playing locally with different bands, including the Escovedos and the Coke and Pete and Al Zolika (sp?) – he was a Latin player. And then with jazz bands, with Arthur Fletcher, we had a trio. And we were working oh, different places on the East Bay and in San Francisco. And getting back to the playing of, there were a lot of clubs. There was the Cellar on Green, and the Jazz workshop was going there, and I played with Brew Moore at the Jazz Workshop, so I was playing with all these bands, and Lonny Hewett was in the band, and Lonnie and I had known each other since we were teenagers. And, and just happened that his bass player come down with some kind of illness, I don’t know what it was, Freddie Schreiber. And he had to leave the band. And so I started subbing at first, 'cos Freddie had to take sick leave type of thing. And then he finally just couldn’t play anymore, so I joined the band. I was like 19, started playing with them in ’63, but full time in ’64. And stayed with them until ’67.

EPS: An you toured around the country?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah. We had fun, it was great. We were just with Verb Records, we just recorded a Soul Salsa album, so we had kind of a little hit going there. So we got a lot of gigs. And I say, Cal, you mind if I lived on the East Coast? He said no. So I moved to New York. 'Cos I wanted to experience New York. So I got a sublet in Harlem. And stayed there for a year. And you know, just and that way I could hang out down in the Village and I had a lot of friends back there. Danny Pateros, and Bobby Fullrod and all these people I knew. So I’d go back there and hang with them, and do the whole New York thing. So I was out of, away from here for about a year there, in the middle of ’60.

EPS: What was the difference do you think between the New York scene and the Fillmore scene?

TERRY HILLIARD: Oh, the difference is because of the number of great musicians that just live there and you can go anyplace and hear them. It’s like you’re going to a special concert. They’re there all the time. All over town. They just, and it’s a 24-hour, 7 days a week you hear them all over town. The great Latin bands at the Rivera Hotel, Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente, I was with the house band at the show place in New York, in Harlem. There’s only one place where the big acts could play….

EPS: The Apollo?

TERRY HILLIARD: The Apollo Theater. That’s where my mind, I’m 79 years old, every now and then it just doesn’t all come to be together. But yeah. It was Apollo, I was with the show band at the Apollo Theater, for about a year, and I had a great time. All kinds of acts came through there. And so that’s New York. Just a lot more, it’s more intense. More of everything. And for, and at any time, 24-7. And I even remember that I was doing shows and I ripped a shirt, I needed another shirt – no problem. Within ten minutes I had a shirt (LAUGHS). That’s, you couldn’t do that here. See, that’s one of the big differences, yeah. It’s amazing place.

EPS: Do you think musicians had to leave the Fillmore to really grow?

TERRY HILLIARD: I think the ones who left really did grow, like Pharaoh (Sanders), and John Handy, you know, they all went to the East Coast. They just, a lot of them did, yeah.

EPS: Do you think the Fillmore scene was more robust than the one in Central Avenue in Los Angeles? It seems like there were more…

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, that was different down there, 'cos I, we, when I went to LA, Red Mitchell had a housing for us down there, so bass player, so I stayed at Red Mitchell’s place, and we always stayed down there in South Central LA, but we worked in Hollywood.

EPS: So did you do television?

TERRY HILLIARD: No, we just did, and what was happening there was I was playing with Virgil Gonzales and we have bookings in Hollywood. And then Art and I would play for parties in Beverly Hills, and that’s where we did most of our work. Is pick up the shows. We’d just, people heard we were there and they wanted to hear us play and we’d go play these house parties. So we did a lot of that, so that’s basically what we did – house parties and playing a few clubs.

EPS: So after you were in New York in 1960, did you come back to the Bay Area?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, came back here in ’66. And I left Cal Tjader in ’67. And started playing locally with local bands.

EPS: The change in the Fillmore must have been pretty amazing? By then redevelopment was pretty heavy…

TERRY HILLIARD: That was pretty heavy.

EPS: It looked like Beirut or something.

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah. That was pretty bad

EPS: What was the mood? I mean, because there still was the Fillmore Auditorium, but it really was mainly white hippie kids.

TERRY HILLIARD: Even the Kabuki was down there in the Fillmore, Kabuki Theater, the Japanese theater?

EPS: Was that open by then?

TERRY HILLIARD: I played there in the ‘70s. Yeah, with Eddie Alley. Eddie Alley’s band, yeah, so the kabuki was there, they had shows from Japan. At the time, Eddie Alley was a contractor, and he would book shows, Circle Star, Cow Palace, Kabuki Theater, different theaters. And mostly in the Fillmore we played private parties. People had these Victorian homes, and they had, all of them had pianos. And we played parties, so. I just don’t remember a lot of the clubs being there anymore.

EPS: Was there a lot less people?

TERRY HILLIARD: I mean, later on when we started playing, Rasselas (jazz club) came in there, you know, later on and we started playing there. I played a couple of places with Martha Young and Vy Redd.

EPS: What was your favorite Fillmore club to play? Or did you have one.

TERRY HILLIARD: That’s a good question. I think the Booker T. Washington was nice.

EPS: So tell me about the Booker T.?

TERRY HILLIARD: I liked the Booker T. I mean, it was a small room, wasn’t a big room, you know, as some of the other supper clubs had. And you had a small crowd. More intimate crowd. A small dance floor. And we always had a lot of fun there with the different bands I played with there. I played with Art Fletcher there, I played with Merrill Hoover there, I played with, we did some shows with Johnny Mathis there. That was, but I, you know, when I came back in the ‘60s, I didn’t play that much in the Fillmore anymore. You know? You know, I started working more in San Francisco. I became part of the show band at the Playboy Club of all places. You know? (laughs) Yes, they did, ’67 when I got back here, they had the Playboy Club. And we were with the show band, and they always had a band and then they had acts that travelled between the various Playboys. And we have a rehearsal on Friday afternoon, play Friday and Saturday night, next Friday you have somebody else. Yeah, I did that for a while. And played a lot with Dick Salzmann, vibes player. We did a lot of shows in San Francisco. At the Hyatt and places like that. So started playing more, you know, downtown San Francisco.

EPS: By then you could?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah. And also the merged the unions in 1960. Yeah.

EPS: At the Booker T. a supper club where people would have dinner and listen?

TERRY HILLIARD: It was a combination. They had, they served food, and but it was, they were more like cocktail tables. And a little dance floor in front of the band.

EPS: Did people get dressed up or was it casual?

TERRY HILLIARD: Oh, they dressed up. They loved to dress. (LAUGHS) Oh, yeah, they loved to dress, yeah. That was one of my favorite spots.

EPS: Who were some of your favorite Fillmore musicians?

TERRY HILLIARD: That list goes on and on with those guys. Of course, John Handy and I are friends forever, you know? We’d been friends forever. I’ve known him longer than most other folks.

EPS: Because he went to State, too?


EPS: Was he there at the same time as you?

TERRY HILLIARD: No. No, he wasn’t. I think he, I think he was in the Army or something. He was gone, I think he was in the Army. He’s a little older than me, yeah. A few years, yeah. But no, John Handy was, we went way back, used to do a lot of rehearsing at his place he had over there in the Fillmore. He had a Victorian. And he used, that’s when he was with Bunny. And we used to go there and play. He had a lot of great music, he wrote a lot of great – he was one of my favorite musicians over there.

EPS: Yeah I went to that house and he said that because of where he was, people would come and go and play… and it almost sounded like it was a clubhouse.

TERRY HILLIARD: That was his living room. It was just music. That was it, yeah. It was great, that was great fun. Of course, by the ‘70s I was playing with Eddie Alley. And Wilbur Buranco up here at the Claremont Hotel. And those guys, once I started playing with them, they kept me busy.

EPS: What do you think of the Fillmore now?

TERRY HILLIARD: You know, last time I played over there, it was at Rassalas off of Geary there. And it, and that closed. So. Yeah. We lost Rassalas now, too. So I mean, it’s just going (makes going down sound), and of course, you know, Yoshi’s went (makes going down sound).

TERRY HILLIARD: Pier 23 off and on. I hear about that, Frank Jackson’s over there now and then. And Frank is still doing it. He’s a great guy (LAUGHS).

EPS: It makes me so happy that you guys are also still playing.

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah, we did a couple of years at the Cyprus together in the late ‘90s, there was a lot of fun. We just had a lot of fun. And then I got busy at Bick’s, so Obedinski started playing with him. And so he’s been with him, and that’s good. He’s got a good bass player.

EPS: Did you play with Pony Poindexter at all?

TERRY HILLIARD: With Pony Poindexter, with… Stan Popper was the drummer, yeah, with Stan and Pony, I played with Stan and Pony. Stan Popper was the drummer.

EPS: What about Saunders King? Did you ever play with him?

TERRY HILLIARD: Oh, yeah. Well, he was a good friend of Eddie Alley’s.

EPS: He was?

TERRY HILLIARD: Yeah. Saunders and Eddie were close friends, and we did, you know, various shows together.

EPS: Well I think that’s it! Do you have any other Fillmore memories at all?

TERRY HILLIARD: I can’t think of anything. I think you’re pretty much tapped my brain (LAUGHS). But I appreciate it.