Eddie Taylor Biography

29 January 1923, Benoit, Mississippi, USA, d. 25 December 1985, Chicago, Illinois, USA. A self-taught musician, Eddie ‘Playboy’ Taylor found early inspiration in the work of Charley Patton, Son House and Robert Johnson. His formative years were spent playing guitar at local social gatherings and clubs but in 1948 he travelled to Chicago to pursue a full-time career. Taylor’s combo became a popular attraction and in 1953 he auditioned for the city’s Vee-Jay Records label. Paradoxically, the company preferred the style of back-up guitarist Jimmy Reed and their roles were consequently reversed. Taylor appeared on the majority of masters Reed recorded between 1953 and 1964, including ‘You Don’t Have To Go’ (1955), ‘Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby’ (1956) and ‘Honest I Do’ (1957), each of which reached the R&B Top 10. Taylor’s sessions as a leader commenced in 1955 and he later achieved a local hit with ‘Big Town Playboy’. Despite such success, further recordings were sporadic, and only six more titles were issued, the last of those in 1964. Taylor, meanwhile, sought employment as an accompanist with other Vee-Jay acts, including John Lee Hooker and Sunnyland Slim. In 1968, he joined Hooker and Reed on a successful European tour, but positive reviews did not engender a new recording deal. The guitarist continued sporadic studio work until 1972 when he completed I Feel So Bad for a west coast independent label. This in turn inspired a second transatlantic tour, during which Taylor recorded Ready For Eddie for the Birmingham-based Big Bear company. He then endured a further low-key period, but a collection of masters from the Vee-Jay era, released in 1981, rekindled interest in this accomplished, yet underrated, bluesman’s career. Eddie Taylor was never a self-promoter and he has probably sold more records since his death in 1985 than while he was alive. His son Eddie Taylor Jnr. released a tribute album in 1998.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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