Johnnie Harrison Taylor (May
5, 1937 – May 31, 2000) was an American vocalist in a wide variety of genres, from Gospel, blues and soul to pop, doo-wop and disco.
Taylor was born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas.
adult, he had one release, "Somewhere to Lay My Head", on Chicago's Chance
Records label in the 1950s, as part of
the gospel group Highway QCs, which had been founded by a young Sam
His singing was strikingly close to that of Sam Cooke
, and he was hired to take Cooke's place
in Cooke's gospel group, the Soul
, in 1957.
A few years later, after Cooke had established his independent
, Taylor signed on and
Wasn't Built In A Day" in 1962. However, SAR Records quickly became
defunct after Cooke's death in 1964.
Taylor moved to Stax Records in
Memphis, Tennessee, where he was dubbed "The Philosopher of
Whilst there he recorded with the label's house band
, Booker T. & the MGs
. His hits
included "I Had a Dream", "I've Got to Love
Somebody's Baby" (both written
team of Isaac Hayes
and David Porter
) and most notably
"Who's Making Love
", which reached
No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100
and No. 1 on the R&B
chart in 1968.
once toured in California with blues singer Blues
Boy Willie of Memphis,
During his tenure at Stax, he became an R&B star
, with over a dozen chart successes, such as
"Jody's Got Your Girl and
", which reached No. 23 on the Hot 100 chart, "Cheaper to
Keep Her" (Mack Rice
) and record producer Don
's penned "I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)", which
reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart. Taylor, along with Isaac Hayes
and The Staple Singers
was one of the label's
After Stax folded in the mid 1970s, Taylor switched to Columbia Records
, where he made his best
known hit, "Disco Lady
", in 1976. "Disco
Lady" was the first certified platinum
million copies sold) by the RIAA
After a brief stint at Beverly Glen Records, Taylor signed with
after the label's
founder Tommy Couch and producing partner Wolf Stephenson heard him
sing at blues singer
Z. Z. Hill
's funeral in the spring of 1984.
Backed by members of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm
as well as in-house veterans like former Stax
and guitarist/bandleader Bernard Jenkins
, Malaco gave Taylor the type
of recording freedom that Stax had given him in the late 1960s and
early 1970s, enabling him to record ten albums for the Malaco label
in his sixteen year stint.
In 1996, Taylor's eighth album for Malaco, Good Love!
made it to Number One on Billboard's Blues chart
and was the biggest record in Malaco's history. With this success,
Malaco recorded a live video of Taylor at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Texas in the
summer of 1997.
The club portion of the "Good Love" video
was recorded at 1001 Nightclub in Jackson, Mississippi.
Taylor's final song was "Soul Heaven", in which he dreamed of being
at a concert
featuring deceased soul music
, Jackie Wilson
, Marvin Gaye
, Sam Cooke
and MGs drummer Al Jackson
, among others.
In one verse, Taylor sang, "I didn't want to wake up/I was
havin' such a good time".
In the 1980s Johnnie Taylor was a DJ on KKDA, a Dallas/Fort Worth
radio station. The station's format is mostly R&B and Soul
oldies and their on-the-air personalities are often local R&B,
Soul, blues, and jazz musicians. Mr. Taylor was billed as "The
Wailer, Johnnie Taylor."
died of a heart attack at
Charleton Methodist Hospital in Dallas, on May 31,
2000 (aged 63).
Stax billed Johnnie Taylor as The
Philosopher of Soul. He was also known as the Blues Wailer. He was
buried beside his mother, Ida Mae Taylor, in Arkansas.
Taylor was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation
1999.2010 soon to be release remixes of the late great johnny
taylor from def jam music group president la reid
the UK's Shapeshifters sampled Taylor's 1982 "What About My
Love?", for their #1 hit single, "Lola's
Taylor has four children who have been recording artists. Johnnie
Taylor Jr., Floyd Taylor, Latasha "Tasha" Taylor & T.J.
Hooker-Taylor. The best known as Floyd Taylor, who has recorded
three albums for Malaco Records. Other children include Fonda
Bryant, Schiffon Taylor-Brown, Sabrina Taylor, Jonathan Taylor, and