About Earl Gilliam
Earl Gilliam began playing music on the streets of New Waverly, TX for nickels and dimes; he sang from Ernest Tub, Light Crust Dough Boys, and other country songs with three of his brothers. Music was always in the house; both his parents sang and played piano. Playing piano came naturally to Earl, and at the age of ten he was playing at the town’s Baptist Church. When he turned seventeen, he played in his first blues band called “Rag Mop” in Conroe, TX. He made it on down to Houston when he was 19 and started playing with Albert Collins at Walter’s Lounge. During this time, he also played gigs with Gatemouth Brown, Ivory Lee Semien, and other artists. Earl played with his own band as the house band at the Hamilton Inn on Wayne Street in the Fifth Ward. Musicians like Trudy Lynn and Lavelle White would sometimes join him and Earl always gave first timers, like Sherman Robertson and I.J. Gosey, a chance.
It was 1955, I.J. was going to see Johnny Clyde Copland play at the Hamilton Inn, and Earl was playing with Russell Will on guitar. “Earl is a great player and a gentleman; he was the first person to let me play on stage,” says I.J. I.J. came to Houston from Newton, TX wanting to be a musician. I.J. played guitar in a band 6 nights a week at Jimmy Mutis’ Club. He soon found out he could get better gigs playing bass. He taught himself how to play bass and began working for Joe Scott at Duke/Peacock records in the studio house band. I.J. recorded with artists like Lowell Fulsom, T. Bone Walker, Johnny Taylor, and Junior Parker to name a few.
In 1959, Sarg records saw Earl play at the Hamilton Inn and got him to record two songs, Don’t Make Me Late and Petite Baby. Later, Earl recorded two more songs for the Ivory label, Twist and Going Up Stairs.
In the 80’s, Earl started playing with Joe Hughes, traveled to Europe with him several times, and recorded 3 CDs with him.
Today, Earl is playing on the first and third Sunday of every month at Salem United Methodist Church in his hometown of Tomball, TX. He also plays blues in his own band with his two friends, Larry and John; his favorite gig is a little club they play in Houston, called the Big Easy Club.