Frederick C. Tillis playing saxophone

Galveston native and accomplished jazz musician and composer, Frederick C. Tillis, died Sunday.

Galveston native Frederick Charles Tillis died Sunday in Amherst, Massachusetts. He was 90.

Tillis was an esteemed jazz musician, composer, performer, poet, arts advocate and director emeritus of the University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center. He also was co-founder and director emeritus of the school’s Jazz in July program.

Angela Wilson: 409-683-5239;


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(5) comments

Bailey Jones

Thanks for this remembrance. I can always learn something new reading the GCDN. I found this great recording of Dr. Tillis playing Motherless Child.

kathryneastburn Staff
Kathryn Eastburn

Thanks, Angela. I am so happy to know about this Galveston-born musician. And thanks, Bailey, for the recording.

Jim Forsythe


June Pulliam

Excellent article, Angela. As you reported, he and my mom. Mrs. Izola Collins, were lifelong friends from their days of playing together in the Central High School band until she passed not quite 3 yrs ago. I’m glad also that you mentioned Dr. Tillis was known not only as a jazz musician but as a prolific composer of classical music, as well. He was a Galveston legend who will be missed.

angelawilson Staff
Angela Wilson

Thanks for the kind words June; when she told me that your mom and him were friends, I just smiled on the inside. I never knew of him and glad I was able to write this story.

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