The HOOSIER HOT SHOTS
Gil Ossian Taylor, a Hoosier from Alabama, replaced Frank Kettering as the bass player with the Hoosier Hot Shots.
When you watch the movies, it's Gil back there on the bass. In Cowboy Blues it was Gil up front
with the guitar crooning The First Thing I Do Every Morning.
Gil's son, Gil Jr., takes it from here.
Yes, dad had a beautiful voice. He was also accomplished on the guitar and bass. He told me that when he was just
a kid he couldn't afford a guitar, so he made a crude wooden cutout with strings
and frets drawn on it. He used it to practice the fingering so that when he finally got a
real guitar he knew all the main chords.
Gil joined the Hot Shots in Chicago, toward the end of 1943. As you know, they were on the
National Barn Dance. He met my mom around that time. She was a telephone operator,
and he made so many long distance calls on her shift that they soon recognized each others voices.
They engaged in friendly banter, and then some flirting, and he finally invited her out.
Soon after that they were married, and I was born in September, 1944.
"The boys," as family and friends referred to the group, moved to L.A. to make movies. They all
settled in the San Fernando Valley. The Taylors started out in a trailer on Riverside Drive in Burbank.
It was unlike any trailer park in the world in that it was full of people connected with the Hollywood
entertainment industry. The boys toured all around the country. They did live shows at movie theatres showing
their films, and of course they played clubs, fairs, and other gigs. They were on the railroads so much they got
to know all the porters and conductors by name. And of course they went overseas to entertain the troops for the USO. Eventually, we bought a house in Burbank, and coincidentally my son and his family live just four blocks from that house today. My mom still lives in the Valley, too. She's in Reseda.
It's hard to believe many people still remember the Hot Shots after all these years. They were sort of a novelty act, along the lines of Spike Jones and his City Slickers.
The success of the Hot Shots was a mixed blessing for my dad. Gil was a
talented musician and singer who aspired to do more
serious material than "Yes, we have no bananas." And occasionally
the boys did give him opportunities to show his skills as a crooner. But too
much of that would detract from the wacky antics of their act.
We asked Gil, Jr., about the post HHS career of his Father. He continues...
By the late 50's the boys weren't much in
demand anymore. Oh they'd get a gig from time to time, maybe a golf
tournament, where they could play the course and then entertain at the award
dinner, but they didn't make enough to live on. Hez, Ken, and Gabe had made better investments
than my dad, and since dad was the latecomer to the group he had always earned a smaller share.
So they could afford to take a gig now and then just for the fun of it, while my dad had to find
a steady job. He had a gift for electronics and made a living selling and repairing amplifiers, organs,
and other such gear. Nights and weekends he played with other groups at all sorts of events, from
Disneyland to wedding receptions. He also taught himself to play the organ and developed the most
remarkable technique for playing big band music, emulating all the instruments, hands and feet flying
across the keys and pedals...Amazing.
Your old curator adds...
Gil was featured solist in a number of the Hoosier Hots Shots movies,
Mutual Broadcasting radio show and on television. His singing
style reached a new audience for the Hot Shots. Gil's rendition of
Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You) with Sally Foster and the Hot Shots
stayed on the Billboard country charts for 10 weeks making it to Number 3 (#12 on the pop charts).
From the family archives, a little trivia; around the house Gil was called Gib. Even more trivia; Gil's middle name was a family "keep it going" being the name of Gil's Mother's Brother.
A presentation of the Hoosier Hot Shots Museum for your information and entertainment.
Photo from Tops Music Enterprises, circa 1948.
Copyright © 2000-2001 The Hoosier Hot Shots Museum