Wednesday, June 03, 2009

RIP Koko Taylor

Koko Taylor - That's Why I'm Crying

I have learned that the "Queen of the Blues," Cora "Koko" Taylor, has passed away at the age of 80. Throughout her long career, Taylor was a fixture in Chicago, recording for Checker and Alligator and at one point owning a blues club. It was at this club, the Celebrity Lounge, that I had the pleasure of meeting Taylor back in 1999. My wife and I dropped in one Saturday night to see Roy Hytower perform. While Hytower put on his goodtimey show, Taylor came in donning a glittering jacket and sat quietly at the bar. When Hytower finished singing he announced her presence and she received a hearty round of applause from the crowd. When my wife and I got up to go home later in the evening, Taylor took our hands and sincerely thanked us for coming to the club. I will never forget the warmth and kindness she showed us that night.

Although I'm partial to Taylor's Checker sides, especially sock soul-slanted tunes like "Fire" and "Separate or Integrate," her Alligator material is of high quality and today's selection comes from her first Alligator LP. "That's Why I'm Crying" finds Taylor toning down the shouting style from some of my favorite Checker sides, instead laying down some smoldering vocals while the band, featuring Mighty Joe Young on guitar, lays down a slinky minor-key blues.

RIP Koko. There is no one who will be able to "pitch a wang dang doodle" like you.

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