When it comes to musical instruments, Clint Gilmore was Mr. Fix It.
In fact, about 300 instruments are sitting in a room at the Gilmore Music Store in various stages of repair waiting for Gilmore to use tools his father and grandfather used dating to the early 1900s.
Sadly, there the instruments will sit, because Clint Gilmore died last November.
It may also be the death of the music store that opened about 75 years ago, unless someone steps up to buy it and the accompanying recording studio.
Clint Gilmore came from a long line of music lovers. Grandfather Cortland Gilmore directed several concert and marching bands, including the Southern California Military Academy located in Signal Hill. And his father Glenn Gilmore open Gilmore Music Store, located at 1935 E. Seventh St., in 1944 after having worked at the Douglas Aircraft Company during World War II.
“By the time I took over (in 1988), I had already been doing sales and had learned the art of playing and repairing of all the instruments Gilmore Music sells,” Clint Gilmore wrote on the store’s Facebook page. “Staying on top of the ever diverse changes to our community, I began to widen the variety of instruments we sold, adding ethnic instruments, repair and sales of turntable/record players, electronics and accessories, as well as opening a recording/rehearsal space in the rear of the store.”
Gilmore told Music and Sound Retailer in 2015 that he started working in the store at an early age, sweeping the floors and, eventually, working during the day as well to earn extra money while playing with his band the Bittersweet Seven at night.
For now, Gilmore’s wife, Linda Gilmore, is keeping the store open in the hopes of finding someone to take it over.
“My husband lived, breathed and grew up in that store,” she said. “He knew the community and they knew him. But it’s hard to run it with no music background.”
Clint Gilmore, who was 70 when he died, attended Wilson High School and Long Beach City College. He was in the marching band at Wilson and LBCC. He met his wife at Panama Joe’s in Belmont Shore and got married on the Queen Mary. They were married 37 years.
“Clint was just a really good guy,” said Raquel Nicholson, his sister-in-law. “The Gilmores have been a presence in this city for decades. The store has been a mainstay; it’s always been there for the public.”
Gilmore was also focused on giving back to the arts community. He was a pioneer with the Jazz Angels, a nonprofit organization that allows young people an opportunity to hear and learn about jazz, encourage them to play an instrument, and provide a platform for them to perform.
“I’ve known Clint just a little over 17 years, and 15 years ago when we started Jazz Angels, I went into the store and I told him I was starting this nonprofit,” said Barry Cogert, who is the founder and director.
Cogert said that Gilmore helped him with repairs and gave instruments to kids who didn’t have them. He said Gilmore would always make contributions to the scholarship funds and that he believed in the Jazz Angels’ mission so everyone could play music and expressed themselves artistically.
“One time we had gotten a big gig downtown by Shoreline Village,” Cogert said, “but we needed music stand lights and I called Clint up about three hours before. He said ‘I’ll give you everything I have.’ I literally picked them up on the way to the performance.”
During his time running the music store, Gilmore had an opportunity to greet countless musicians, including Danny Elfman, the Oscar-nominated composer and former singer-songwriter of the new wave band Oingo Boingo as well as Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre. In addition, Long Beach bands War and Sublime used the recording studio.
“I moved into the Long Beach area in 1983 and everybody knew that Gilmore Music was the consumer musician store to go to,” Cogert said. “It was really cool. The whole store and the philosophy of the store. He was very generous.”
Linda Gilmore said her husband started feeling ill last February, but thought it was stress-related. In October he was diagnosed with cancer. He was hospitalized on Oct. 30 and was due to be released on Nov. 1. He died the next day.
“It was gut wrenching,” Linda Gilmore said. “He thought he had a year to live. He was a wonderful, honest, talented man. His love was repairing instruments.”
She said that once the pandemic settles down, there will be a celebration of her husband’s life, perhaps in April or May.
“I haven’t had time to grieve,” she said, “I’ve been consumed with taking inventory of the business. It’s been a landmark since the ’40s. It’s going to be a shame … all these guitars. We’ll just have to see what happens.”
Gilmore is survived by his wife Linda; daughter, Ashley; sisters, Laura and Kathy and brother, Greg. The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Jazz Angels (jazzangels.org).