Koko Taylor
@ The Cabooze, December 27, 1996

Koko Taylor
The Cabooze, 12/27/96
Photo © Tom Asp 1996
All Rights Reserved.
Koko Taylor, born Cora Taylor, Sept. 28, 1938 in Memphis, followed Lonnie Brooks that night. The audience was primed and she delivered another of her solid, straight blues shows. Growing up she listened to B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf and Elmore James on the radio. She sang in church but her real love has always been straight ahead, natural, blues. She has devoted her entire career delivering it straight from the heart.

Influenced by Big Mama Thornton, Bessie Smith, Bobby Bland and Muddy Waters she first recorded in Chicago in 1963 after moving there 10 years before. She worked all the west and south side clubs during the 1960's with the likes of Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and Junior Wells. It was while performing there that she was noticed by Willie Dixon. He said the blues needs more woman that can sing like you. Dixon produced her initial Chess albums in the mid 60's and wrote her first major hit -- Wang Dang Doodle, which propelled her to fame and international tours. That song has remained her trademark song ever since.

Koko Taylor
1997 Tampa Bay Blues Festival
Photo © Chuck Winans 1997
All Rights Reserved.

Koko has received many awards over the years but one of her favorite honors was the "Legend of the Year" award presented to her in 1993 by Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley. She has also appeared in a David Lynch movie, Wild At Heart (as a lounge singer).

In the biographical information found at the Alligator internet home page ) she says "It's tough being out here doing what I'm doing in what they call a man's world. It's not every woman that can hang in there and do what I am doing today." During the show she said "when you're talkin' about the blues, well that's my middle name." It's no wonder she is called the Queen of the Blues.

Koko's band, The Blues Machine, introduced her as just that -- Queen of the Blues, a fitting title for one of the best female blues singers performing today (also the title of one of her many Alligator albums). Koko's set featured her tough, low down, gritty blues voice and great support by her band. She was wearing a glittering, gold sequenced pants outfit that just sparked on stage. Koko still has that powerful, gritty blues voice that has enthralled audiences for over 30 years.

One of the first things she said was "all the dogs in the house say woo." After some very positive feedback she launched into a gravely version of Let the Good Time Roll. That set the mood for the rest of her show...the good times did indeed roll!

For her introduction to I'd rather Go Blind she said "we're gonna get right on down with the blues... are you READY for the blues... 'cause we're goin' alllllll the way down in the basement and we're gonna do this for everybody that digs the blues." It was amusing hearing her introduce many of her other songs with the same "now lets go way down in the basement for this next song." She would then pull out an old blues standard and sing it with so much passion -- it was right on the money. The packed house by this time was dancing, stomping and yelling and Koko was feeding off this energy. She closed with Wang Dang Doodle and encored with Big Boss Man and the evening was over all too soon.
Keep The Blues Alive!

Mailbox E-mail Ray Stiles at: mnblues@aol.com

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Copyright © 1997 by Ray M. Stiles
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