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Michael Kevin "Mick" Taylor (born 17 January 1949 in Welwyn Garden Citymarker, Hertfordshiremarker) is an English musician best known as a former member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and The Rolling Stones. During his tenure with those bands, Taylor gained a reputation as a reliable technical guitarist with a preference for blues, rhythm and blues and rock and roll and a talent for slide guitar. Since his resignation from the Rolling Stones in December 1974, Taylor has worked with numerous other artists, as well as releasing a number of solo albums.


Early career

Taylor grew up in Hatfield, Hertfordshiremarker. He began playing guitar at age nine. As a teenager, he formed bands with schoolmates and started performing concerts under names such as The Juniors and the Strangers. They also appeared on television and put out a single. Part of the band was recruited for a new group called The Gods, which included Ken Hensley (later of Uriah Heep fame). In 1966, The Gods opened for Cream at the Starlite Ballroom in Wembleymarker.

In 1965, when Taylor was 16, he went to see a John Mayall's Bluesbreakers performance at "The Hop" Community Centre, Welwyn Garden City. A former drummer with the Juniors, Danny Bacon, remembers: "On the night in question, I had gone to The Hop with some guys from our band, former schoolmates and Ex-Juniors Mick Taylor and Alan Shacklock. It was after John Mayall had finished his first set without a guitarist that it became clear that for some reason Eric Clapton was not going to show up. A group of local musicians, which included myself, Robert 'Jab' Als, Herbie Sparks, and others, along with three local guitarists—Alan Shacklock, Mick Casey (formerly of the Trekkas) and Mick Taylor—were in attendance". Mick Taylor approached John Mayall during the intermission and ended up filling in as the guitarist for the second set, playing Clapton's guitar, which had already been set up on the stage.

Despite his young age, Taylor began to earn respect for his guitar skills, and when Peter Green resigned from the Bluesbreakers, Taylor was asked to take his place. Taylor made his debut with the Bluesbreakers at the Manor Housemarker, an old blues club in North London. For those in the music scene the night was an event... "Let's go and see this 17-year-old kid try and replace Eric".Before he turned 18, Taylor toured and recorded the album Crusade with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. From 1966 to 1969, Taylor developed a guitar style that is blues-based with Latin and jazz influences. Later on in his career, he further developed his skills as a slide guitarist.

The Rolling Stones

Taylor playing slide guitar with the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden, 1972 Photo: Dina Regine

The Rolling Stones were considering a US tour in 1969, and the problems surrounding guitarist and founding member Brian Jones could not be ignored. His conviction for possession of cannabis would be an obstacle to obtaining the work visa needed to perform on tour in the US; and his emotional problems had alienated him from the rest of the group and would have made touring difficult, if not impossible. In 1995 Mick Jagger stated: "[Firing Brian] had to be done because we felt we needed someone, and he wasn't there. He wouldn't come to the studio. He wouldn't do anything. We felt we couldn't go on. In fact, we came to a point where we couldn't play live. We couldn't hold our heads up and play because Brian was a total liability. He wasn't playing well, wasn't playing at all, couldn't hold the guitar. It was pathetic." Jones was fired from the band in early June 1969.

Jagger did not want to hold auditions to replace Jones and the process by which Taylor became a band member was very different from that used to recruit Ronnie Wood five-and-a-half years later. Jagger asked John Mayall from the Bluesbreakers for his advice, whereupon he recommended Taylor. Taylor arrived at the Stone's recording studio, believing he had been asked there to work as a session musician, but gradually realised he was being auditioned as a new guitarist for the band. His playing impressed Jagger and Keith Richards enough that he was invited back the following day. Taylor continued rehearsing and recording with the band, adding overdubs to two tracks for the upcoming album Let It Bleed ("Country Honk" and "Live With Me") and to "Honky Tonk Women", which was released as a single in the UK on 4 July 1969.Taylor made his onstage debut with the Stones at a free concert in London’s Hyde Parkmarker on 5 July 1969. The concert, was attended by an estimated quarter of a million people, and had been planned for some time, but was turned into a tribute to Brian Jones, who had died on the night of 2/3 July.

The Rolling Stones' 1971 release Sticky Fingers includes two numbers that Taylor and Jagger had completed in Keith Richards' absence: "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile". Jagger said: "We made [tracks] with just Mick Taylor, which are very good and everyone loves, where Keith wasn't there for whatever reasons ... It's me and [Mick Taylor] playing off each other - another feeling completely, because he's following my vocal lines and then extemporizing on them during the solos." However, Taylor was only credited as co-author (with Jagger and Richards) of one Rolling Stones track: "Ventilator Blues", on the album Exile on Main St. (1972).

After the 1973 European tour, Richards's drug problems had worsened and began affecting the ability of the band to function as a whole. Between recording sessions, the band members were living in various different countries. During this period, Taylor appeared on Herbie Mann's 1974 release London Underground, recorded in London, and guested on Mann's next album, Reggae.

It's Only Rock 'n Roll

In January 1974, while the band began recording the LP It's Only Rock 'n Roll at Musicland Studiosmarker in Munich, Taylor missed some of the sessions whilst he underwent surgery for acute sinusitis. When he arrived, he found it difficult to work with Richards. At one point during the Munich sessions, Richards confronted him, and said, "Oi! Taylor! You're playing too fuckin' loud. I mean, you're really good live, man, but you're fucking useless in the studio. Lay out, play later, whatever." Richards erased some of the tapes where Taylor had recorded guitar parts to some of the songs for It's Only Rock n' Roll Taylor was, however, present at all the sessions in April at Stargrovesmarker, England, where the LP was finished and most of the overdubs were recorded.

Not long after those recording sessions, Taylor went on a six-week expedition to Brazil, travelling down the Amazon River in a boat and exploring Latin music.

Just before the release of the album in October 1974, Taylor told Nick Kent from the NME magazine about the new LP and that he had co-written "Till the Next Goodbye" and "Time Waits for No One" with Jagger. Kent showed Taylor the record sleeve, which revealed the absence of any songwriting credits for Taylor. In an interview with Gary James, Taylor later said: "I was a bit peeved about not getting credit for a couple of songs, but that wasn't the whole reason [I left the band]. I guess I just felt like I had enough. I decided to leave and start a group with Jack Bruce. I never really felt, and I don't know why, but I never felt I was gonna stay with the Stones forever, even right from the beginning. In a 2009 interview, Taylor said: "We used to fight and argue all the time. And one of the things I got angry about was that Mick had promised to give me some credit for some of the songs – and he didn't. I believed I'd contributed enough. Let's put it this way – without my contribution those songs would not have existed. There's not many but enough, things like 'Sway' and 'Moonlight Mile' on Sticky Fingers and a couple of others."

In December 1974, Taylor announced he was leaving the Rolling Stones. The bandmates were at a party in London when Taylor told Mick Jagger he was quitting and walked out. Taylor's decision came as a total shock to many. The Rolling Stones were due to start recording a new album in Munich, and the entire band was reportedly angry at Taylor for leaving at such short notice..

Mick Jagger, in a 1995 interview with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine, said Taylor never explained why he had left, and surmised that "[Taylor] wanted to have a solo career. I think he found it difficult to get on with Keith." In the same interview Jagger said of Taylor's contribution to the band: "I think he had a big contribution. He made it very musical. He was a very fluent, melodic player, which we never had, and we don't have now. Neither Keith nor [Ronnie Wood] plays that kind of style. It was very good for me working with him ... Mick Taylor would play very fluid lines against my vocals. He was exciting, and he was very pretty, and it gave me something to follow, to bang off. Some people think that's the best version of the band that existed". Asked if he agreed with that assessment, Jagger said: "I obviously can't say if I think Mick Taylor was the best, because it sort of trashes the period the band is in now." Charlie Watts stated: "I think we chose the right man for the job at that time just as Ronnie was the right man for the job later on. I still think Mick is great. I haven't heard or seen him play in a few years. But certainly what came out of playing with him are musically some of the best things we've ever done". Another statement, made by Keith Richards, is: "Mick Taylor is a great guitarist, but he found out the hard way that that's all he is".

In an essay about the Rolling Stones, printed after Taylor's resignation, music critic Robert Palmer of The New York Times wrote that "Taylor is the most accomplished technician who ever served as a Stone. A blues guitarist with a jazzman's flair for melodic invention, Taylor was never a rock and roller and never a showman."

Taylor has worked with his former bandmates on various occasions since leaving the Rolling Stones. On 14 December 1981 he performed with the band at their concert at the Kemper Arenamarker in Kansas City, Missourimarker. Keith Richards appeared on stage at a Mick Taylor show at the Lone Star Cafe in New York on 28 December 1986, jamming on "Key to the Highway" and "Can't You Hear Me Knocking"; and Taylor is featured on one track ("I Could Have Stood You Up") on Richards' 1988 album Talk is Cheap. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker inducted Mick Taylor along with the Rolling Stones in 1989. Taylor also worked with Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings in the early 1990s.

In addition to his contributions to Rolling Stones albums released during his tenure with the band, Taylor's guitar is also on two tracks on their 1981 release Tattoo You: "Tops" and "Waiting on a Friend", both of which were originally recorded in 1972. (Taylor is sometimes mistakenly credited as playing on "Worried About You", but the solo on that track is performed by Wayne Perkins.)

Taylor's onstage presence with the Rolling Stones is preserved on the album Get Yer Ya-Yas Out!, recorded over three concerts at Madison Square Gardenmarker in New York in November 1969; in the documentary films Stones in the Park (released on DVD in 2001), Gimme Shelter (released in 1970) and Cocksucker Blues (unreleased); and in the concert film Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones (released in 1974). Bootleg recordings from the Rolling Stones' tours from 1969 through 1973 also document Taylor's concert performances with the Rolling Stones.

Post-Stones: 1975 to 1981

Taylor in Barcelona in 1984
After leaving The Rolling Stones, Taylor has worked on a wide variety of projects.

In June, 1973, he joined Mike Oldfield onstage at the Queen Elizabeth Hallmarker in a performance of Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Taylor was asked to take part in this project by Richard Branson as he felt Oldfield was unknown having just been signed to Branson's fledgling label, Virgin Records. Taylor joined Oldfield once more for a BBC television broadcast in November, 1973.

After Taylor's resignation from the Rolling Stones, Jack Bruce invited him to form a new band with keyboardist Carla Bley and drummer Bruce Gary. In 1975, the band began rehearsals in London with tour dates scheduled for later that year. The group toured Europe, including a performance at the Dutch Pinkpop festivalmarker, but disbanded the following year. A performance recorded on 1 June, 1975, which was finally released on CD in 2003 as "Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall") and another performance from the Old Grey Whistle Test seem to be the only material available from this brief collaboration.

Taylor appeared as a special guest of Little Feat at the Rainbow Theatremarker in London, 1977, sharing slide guitar with then-frontman Lowell George on "A Apolitical Blues": this song appears on Little Feat's critically-acclaimed live album Waiting for Columbus.In the summer of 1977 he collaborated with Pierre Moerlen's Gong for the album Espresso II, released in 1978. Taylor began writing new songs and recruiting musicians for a solo album and worked on projects with Miller Anderson, Alan Merrill and others. He was present at many of the recording sessions for John Phillips' first solo album. The recordings for Phillips' album took place in London over a prolonged period between 1973 and 1977. This led to Taylor working with Keith Richards and Mick Jagger who were also working on the Phillips' album. Atlantic Records eventually cancelled the project but copies of the sessions(under titles "Half Stoned" and "Phillips '77") circulated among bootleg traders. The original tapes were rescued and restored and were officially released in 2002 as Pay Pack & Follow.

In 1977 Taylor signed a solo recording deal with CBS Records. By April 1978 he gave several interviews to music magazines to promote the new album which was finished, but would not be released for another year. In 1979 the album, titled Mick Taylor, was released by CBS Records. The album material mixed rock, jazz and Latin-flavoured blues musical styles. Sales were poor but the album reached #119 on the Billboard charts in early August with a stay of five weeks on the Billboard 200. CBS advised Taylor to promote the album through American radio stations but was unwilling to back the guitarist for any supporting tour. Already frustrated with this situation, Taylor took a break from the music industry for about a year.

In 1981, he toured Europe and the United States with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After, sharing the bill with Black Sabbath. He spent most of 1982-1983 on the road with John Mayall, for the "Reunion Tour" with John McVie of Fleetwood Mac) and Colin Allen. During this tour, Bob Dylan showed up backstage at The Roxymarker in Los Angeles in order to meet Taylor.

In 1983, Taylor joined Mark Knopfler and played on Dylan's Infidels album. He also appeared on Dylan 's live album, Real Live, as well as the follow-up studio album, Empire Burlesque.

In 1984, Dylan asked Mick Taylor to assemble an experienced rock and roll band for a European tour he signed with Bill Graham. Ian McLagan was hired to play piano and hammond organ, Greg Sutton to play bass and Colin Allen, an old friend of Taylor, on drums. The tour lasted for 4 weeks, sharing the bill with Carlos Santana and, for a few shows, Joan Baez as well.

Later career

Taylor w/ Ricky Byrd & Smokey Quartz at Wonderland Blues NYC, 1989 Photo: Dina Regine

Taylor guested with the Grateful Dead on September 24, 1988 at the last show of that year's Madison Square Gardenmarker run in New York.

Taylor lived in New York throughout the 1980s. He battled with addiction problems before getting back on track in the second half of the 1980s and moving to Los Angeles in 1990. During this time Taylor did session work and toured in Europe, America and Japan with a band including Max Middleton (formerly of the Jeff Beck Group), Shane Fontayne, and Blondie Chaplin. "A Stranger In Town" was released on Maze Records backed up by a mini-tour including the record release party at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston as well as gigs at the Paradise Theatermarker.

Taylor moved back to England in the mid 1990s. Taylor never seemed to feel comfortable in his role as a former Rolling Stone until he released a new album in 2000, entitled, A Stone's Throw. Playing at clubs and theatres as well as appearing at festivals has connected Taylor with an appreciative audience and fan base. In 2003, Taylor reunited with John Mayall for his 70th Birthday Concert in Liverpool along with Eric Clapton. A year later, in autumn 2004, he also joined John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers for a UK theatre tour. In October 2007, he toured the US East Coast with the Experience Hendrix group. The Experience Hendrix group appeared at a series of concerts which were set up to pay homage to the late Jimi Hendrix and his musical legacy. Taylor, who had known Hendrix, played with Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin and Robby Krieger.


With John Mayall's Bluesbreakers

  • Crusade (Decca, 1967/LP, 1987/CD)

With The Rolling Stones

Taylor plays on "Honky Tonk Women"
Taylor plays on "Country Honk" and "Live With Me"
Taylor plays on "I Don't Know Why" and "Jiving Sister Fanny".
Taylor plays on "Tops" and "Waiting on a Friend", both tracks recorded in 1972 during the Goats Head Soup sessions.
Taylor plays on "Let It Rock" (live 1971) and the 1974 b-side "Through The Lonely Nights".

Non-Rolling Stones work with Rolling Stones members:
from 1973-1979 recording sessions in London aka "Half Stoned" sessions
produced by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards

With Jack Bruce

  • Live on the Old Grey Whistle Test (Strange Fruit, 1995). Tracks from several Whistle Test shows recorded between '75 and '81. Seven of the songs feature Taylor on guitar.
  • Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall (2 CD, Polydor, 2003)

With Bob Dylan

Solo discography

  • Mick Taylor (1979) US #119 [5 wks on top 200]
  • Stranger in This Town (1990)
  • Arthur's Club-Geneve 1995 (Mick Taylor & Snowy White) (Promo CD/TV Especial)
  • A Stone's Throw (2000)
  • Coastin' Home aka Live at the 14 Below (1995) re-issued 2002

With Carla Olson

Too Hot For Snakes plus (2008, Collectors' Choice) 2 CD set of the Roxy album plus You Gotta Move and a 2nd disc of 13 studio tracks 1993 - 2004 including a previously unreleased version of Winter and Think I'm Goin' Mad from the Carla-produced Barry Goldberg album Stoned Again.

Other session work

  • Tubular Bells Premiere (Mike Oldfield) June '73 Queen Elizabeth Hall
  • Tubular Bells (Mike Oldfield) Telecast Tubular Bells Part One and Tubular Bells Part Two. Recorded at BBC Broadcasting House November 1973 and aired in early '74 and June '74. Available on Oldfield's Elements DVD.
  • The Tin Man Was A Dreamer (Nicky Hopkins) (1973)
  • "London Underground" (Herbie Mann 1974)
  • Billy Preston - Live European Tour (Billy Preston) (A& M, 1974). Recorded with Stones Mobile Studio during the '73 tour. Preston opened up for the band with Mick Taylor on guitar.
released on CD (A& M - Japan, 2002)
  • Have Blues Will Travel (Speedo Jones) (Integrity Records, 1988)
  • Reggae II (Herbie Mann) (Atlantic, 1976)
  • Just A Story From America (Elliott Murphy) (Columbia 1977)
  • Waiting for Columbus (Little Feat) (1978) double CD released 2002
  • Expresso II (Gong) (1978)
  • Alan Merrill (Alan Merrill)'s solo album (Polydor, 1985) recorded in London in 1977
  • Vinyl (Dramarama) (1991)
  • Once in a Blue Moon (Gerry Groom) (1993)
  • Cartwheels (Anthony Thistlethwaite) (1993)
  • let's get stoned (The Chesterfield Kings) (Mirror Records,1994)
  • Crawfish and Caviar (Anthony Thistlethwaite)
  • Mick & I (2001) Miyuki & Mick Taylor
  • From Clarksdale to Heaven (BlueStorm, 2002) John Lee Hooker Tribute Album.
  • Meaning Of Life (Todd Sharpville) (Cathouse/Universal, 2003)
  • Key To Love (Debbie Davies) (Shanachie Records, 2003)
  • Shadow Man (re-release of a Sasha album from '96) (2003)
Originally released by Alpha Music in 1996, this "Mick Taylor featuring Sasha" album should have read "Sasha featuring Mick Taylor", but the company felt it would sell better under a household name. It features Mick Taylor on guitar, but is basically a Sasha Gracanin album.

Music DVDs

  • Blues Alive video (RCA/Columbia Pictures 1983), recorded at Capitol Theatre, NJ 1982
  • Jamming with the Blues Greats - DVD release from the 1983 video, featuring John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (Mick Taylor, Colin Allen, John McVie) and special guests Albert King, Etta James, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Sippie Wallace (Lightyear/Image Entertainment 2005)
  • The Stones in the Park Hyde Park concert video (Granada Television, 1969)
released on DVD (VCI, 2001)
  • Gimme Shelter (Maysles Films, 1970) music documentary film by Albert and David Maysles, shot at the Rolling Stones concerts at Madison Square Garden, NY on 27/28 November and Altamont, CA on 6th Dec December 1969.
restored and released on DVD (Criterion, 2000)

  • John Mayall, the Godfather of British Blues documentary about John Mayall's life and career (Eagle Rock, 2004. Region 1: 2005)
  • 70th Birthday Concert (Eagle Rock, 2004. Region 1: 2005). Bluesbreakers Charity Concert (Unite for Unicef) filmed in Liverpool, July 2003. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers with special guests Chris Barber, Eric Clapton and Mick Taylor.

Music DVDs - Unofficial


Contributed to soundtrack. Played guitar on various songs, including "Hello Mary Lou" after developing ideas for soundtrack with John Phillips.
  • The Last of the Finest (1990) directed by John Mackenzie. Assisted composer Jack Nitzsche with the moviescore
  • Bad City Blues (1999) directed by Michael Stevens. After the book by Tim Willocks.
Music composers: Mick Taylor and Max Middleton


  • Inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame (with the Rolling Stones, 1989)
  • Taylor's handprints are on Hollywood's RockWalk since 6 September, 1998.

Guitar history

Throughout his career, Taylor has used various different guitars, but is mostly associated with the Gibson Les Paul. His first Les Paul was bought when he was still playing with The Gods (from Selmer's, London in '65). He acquired his second Les Paul in 1967, not long after joining The Bluesbreakers: Taylor came to Olympic Studiosmarker to buy a Les Paul that Keith Richards wanted to sell. On the '72/'73 tours Taylor used a couple of Sunburst Les Paul guitars without a Bigsby. Other guitars include a Gibson ES-355 for the recording of Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street, a Gibson SG on the 1969, 1970 and 1971 tours, and occasionally a Fender Stratocaster and a Fender Telecaster.


  1. (Nico Zentgraf, The Complete Works of the Rolling Stones: Taylor-Made Works May 1964 – August 2004, published by Stoneware Publishing, Hamburg, 2004)
  2. (Robert Greenfield, S.T.P., A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones, published by Michael Joseph Ltd, 1974. Reprinted by Helter Skelter Publishing, London 1997 quote from Chapter Four, page 103)
  3. Davis, Stephen, Old Gods Almost Dead: The 40-Year Odyssey of The Rolling Stones, pp. 377-378, Broadway Books, ISBN 0-7679-0312-9, 2004.
  4. Elliott, M - The Rolling Stones Complete Recording Sessions, page 220. Cherry Red Books, 2002. ISBN 1-901447-04-9
  5. Davis 2004, p. 387.
  6. "Mick Taylor Biography" Allmusic, accessed 04 Sept 2007
  7. Davis 2004, p. 391
  8. A Life On The Road, Virgin Books 1999
  9. Guitar World, Oct 2002, reprinted in Guitar Legends Jan 2007
  10. " Waiting For Columbus tracklist and mp3 excerpts"
  11. Family Demons (Film Review)

External links

UK Daily Mail

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