When I read the newspaper today, I was shocked to discover that John Gill had died late last week. He was a highly regarded ragtime and stride pianist, but if you’ve ever been to Murray Street Mall in Perth during lunchtime — whether you’re a local or a visitor — there’s a good chance you’ve seen him entertaining Forrest Place with his wooden piano-on-a-trolley.
I had the pleasure of talking to John just five weeks ago while researching an article about busking for Perth Walkabout. He was polite, affable and knowledgeable. He even stayed behind after he’d finished playing to chat to everyone, including trying to help an international student with an assignment, eventually vacating the area for another group of buskers.
I emailed John the link to the article when it was published online, but I haven’t been into the city since. I still have his business card in my wallet. It’s a strange, empty feeling to know that I’ll never see or hear those keys again.
Rest in peace.