Taylor performing with The Rolling Stones
|Birth name||Michael Kevin Taylor|
|Also known as||Little Mick|
17 January 1949 |
Welwyn Garden City, England
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer, songwriter|
|Labels||Columbia, Decca, Rolling Stones, Atlantic, EMI, Virgin, CBS, Maze Records|
|Associated acts||John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, The Rolling Stones, The Jack Bruce Band, Carla Olson, The Gods, Mike Oldfield|
Michael Kevin Taylor (born 17 January 1949) is an English musician, best known as a former member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (1966–69) and the Rolling Stones (1969–74). He has appeared on some of the Stones' classic albums including Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St..
Since leaving the Rolling Stones in December 1974, Taylor has worked with numerous other artists and released several solo albums. From November 2012 onwards he participated in the Stones' 50th-Anniversary shows in London and Newark, and in the band's 50 & Counting World Tour, which included North America, Glastonbury Festival and Hyde Park in 2013. The band decided to continue in 2014 with concerts in the UAE, Far East & Australia and Europe for the 14 On Fire tour. He was ranked 37th in Rolling Stone magazine's 2011 list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time. Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash states that Taylor had the biggest influence on him.
Taylor was born to a working-class family in Welwyn Garden City, but was raised in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England, where his father worked as a fitter (machinist) for the De Havilland aircraft company. He began playing guitar at age nine, learning to play from his mother's younger brother. 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 Wembley.
In 1965, at age 16, Taylor went to see a John Mayall's Bluesbreakers performance at "The Hop" Woodhall Community Centre, Welwyn Garden City.
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.— Danny Bacon, a drummer friend of the Juniors,
Taylor himself has said after seeing that Clapton hadn't appeared, but that his guitar had already been set up on the stage, he approached John Mayall during the interval to ask if he could play with them. Taylor mentioned that he'd heard their albums and knew some of the songs, and after a moment of deliberation, Mayall agreed. Taylor amended, "I wasn't thinking that this was a great opportunity... I just really wanted to get up on stage and play the guitar."
Taylor played the second set with Mayall's band, and after winning Mayall's respect, they exchanged phone numbers. This encounter proved to be pivotal in Taylor's career when Mayall began to look for a guitarist to fill Peter Green's vacancy the following year. Mayall contacted Taylor, and invited him to take Green's place. Taylor made his debut with the Bluesbreakers at the Manor House, 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". 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. He is the guitarist on the Bluesbreaker albums Diary of a Band, Bare Wires, and Blues from Laurel Canyon. Later on in his career, he further developed his skills as a slide guitarist.
After Brian Jones was removed from The Rolling Stones in June 1969, John Mayall recommended Taylor to Mick Jagger. Taylor believed he was being called in to be a session musician at his first studio session with the Rolling Stones. An impressed Jagger and Keith Richards invited Taylor back the following day to continue rehearsing and recording with the band. He overdubbed guitar on "Country Honk" and "Live With Me" for the album Let It Bleed, and on the single "Honky Tonk Women" released in the UK on 4 July 1969.
Taylor's onstage debut as a Rolling Stone, at the age of 20, was the free concert in Hyde Park, London on 5 July 1969. An estimated quarter of a million people attended for a show that turned into a tribute to Brian Jones, who had died two days before the concert.
The Rolling Stones' 1971 release Sticky Fingers included "Sway" and "Moonlight Mile" which Taylor and Jagger had completed in Richards' absence. At the time Jagger stated: "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 of one track, "Ventilator Blues", from 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 countries and during this period Taylor appeared on Herbie Mann's London Underground (1974) and also appeared on Mann's album Reggae (1974).
In November 1973, when the band was to begin work on the LP It's Only Rock 'n Roll at Musicland Studios in Munich, Taylor missed some of the sessions while he underwent surgery for acute sinusitis. Not much was achieved during the first 10 days at Musicland. Most of the actual recordings were made in January at Musicland and in April 1974 in Jagger's estate in the English county of Hampshire dubbed "Stargroves". When Taylor resumed work with the band, he found it difficult to get along 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 Stargroves, 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, to travel down the Amazon River in a boat and explore Latin music. Just before the release of the album in October 1974, Taylor told Nick Kent from the NME 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.
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.— Mick Taylor, in an interview with Gary James, 
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 Jagger he was quitting and walked out. Taylor's decision came as a 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.
When interviewed by Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone in 1995, Jagger stated that 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".[page needed] In an October 2002 Guitar World interview, Richards reflected on his relationship with Taylor: "Mick Taylor and I worked really well together ... He had some lovely energy. Sweetly sophisticated playing, way beyond his years. Lovely sense of melody. I never understood why he left the Stones. Nor does he, I think... I had no desire to see him go." Taylor later admitted in the 2012 documentary Crossfire Hurricane that he left because he wanted to protect his family from the drug culture surrounding the band.
In an essay about the Rolling Stones published after Taylor's resignation, New York Times music critic Robert Palmer 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. In 1977 he attended London-based sessions for the John Phillips album Pay Pack & Follow, appearing on several tracks alongside Jagger (vocals), Richards (guitar) and Wood (bass) – taking notable solos on the songs "Oh Virginia" and "Zulu Warrior". A possibly apocryphal story is that after Taylor played a particularly jaw-dropping solo in the studio, Richards half-jokingly exclaimed, "That's why I never liked you, you bastard!"
On 14 December 1981 he performed with the band at their concert at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. 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 Fame inducted 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 four concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York and the Civic Center in Baltimore in November 1969, and on the album Brussels Affair (Live 1973), compiled from two shows recorded in Brussels on 17 October 1973 in the Forest National Arena, during their European Tour. Taylor's live performances also feature 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 (shown in cinemas in 1974, and released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2010); these performances were also released on an album with the same title. Bootleg recordings from the Rolling Stones' tours from 1969 through 1973 also document Taylor's concert performances with the Rolling Stones.
In March 2010, rumours started circulating that Taylor had contributed guitar work on the upcoming Exile on Main St. special edition release. This expanded version of the original double album includes 10 outtakes or alternative versions of songs. Taylor later revealed (in an interview with a journalist from Cleveland) that he had indeed recorded new guitar overdubs for the CD, at Jagger's request.
On 17 April 2010 (National Record Store Day), the new Rolling Stones single "Plundered My Soul" came out, featuring recently recorded vocals and guitars by Jagger and Taylor. The producers of the Stones in Exile DVD had asked Taylor for an interview, to which he agreed. One day before this was to take place, Jagger forwarded an e-mail to Taylor's representative in Holland saying he was hoping that Taylor would come over to a private studio in the afternoon to work on a track that was meant to be included on the expanded Exile on Main Street reissue.
Around this time, Eagle Rock Entertainment also announced that a first official release of the concert film Ladies and Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones was planned for autumn 2010. Apart from a one-off cinema screening in the past, the film had previously only been available on bootleg videos and DVDs.
Taylor worked on various side projects during his tenure with the Rolling Stones.
In June 1973, he joined Mike Oldfield onstage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall 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 his 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, with a sound leaning more toward jazz, including a performance at the Dutch Pinkpop festival, 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" by The Jack Bruce Band) 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 Theatre 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 Expresso 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' prospective second solo album. The recordings for Phillips' album took place in London over a prolonged period between 1973-77. 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 the 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 Columbia Records. By April 1978 he had given 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 Columbia Records. The album material mixed rock, jazz and Latin-flavoured blues musical styles. The album reached No. 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 and 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 Roxy in Los Angeles 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, a long-time friend of Taylor, on drums. The tour lasted for four weeks at venues such as Munich's Olympic Stadium Arena and Milan's San Siro Stadium, sharing the bill with Carlos Santana and Joan Baez, who appeared on the same bill for a couple of shows.
Taylor guested with the Grateful Dead on 24 September 1988 at the last show of that year's Madison Square Garden 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. In 1990, his CD Stranger in This Town was released by Maze Records, backed up by a mini-tour including the record release party at the Hard Rock Cafe as well as gigs at the Paradise Theater.
He began what was to be a significant series of collaborations with L.A. based Carla Olson with their "Live at the Roxy" album "Too Hot For Snakes," the centrepiece of which is an extended seven-minute performance of "Sway." Another highlight is the lead track on the album, "Who Put the Sting (On the Honey Bee)," by Olson's then-bassist Jesse Sublett. It was followed by Olson's "Within An Ace," which featured Taylor on seven songs. He appeared on three songs from "Reap The Whirlwind" and then again on Olson's "The Ring of Truth," on which he plays lead guitar on nine tracks, including a twelve-minute version of the song "Winter." Further work by Olson and Taylor can be heard on the Olson-produced Barry Goldberg album "Stoned Again." Taylor went on to appear on Percy Sledge's "Blue Night" (1994), along with Steve Cropper, Bobby Womack and Greg Leisz.
After spending two years as a resident of Miami, during which time he played with a band called 'Tumbling Dice' featuring Bobby Keys, Nicky Hopkins and others, Taylor moved back to England in the mid-1990s. He released a new album in 1998 entitled "A Stone's Throw." Playing at clubs and theaters as well as appearing at festivals has kept Taylor connected 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 and the Bluesbreakers for a UK theatre tour. He toured the US East Coast with the Experience Hendrix group during October 2007. The Experience Hendrix group appeared at a series of concerts to honour Jimi Hendrix and his musical legacy. Players included Taylor, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin and Robby Krieger.
On 1 December 2010, Taylor reunited with Ronnie Wood at a benefit gig arranged by blues guitarist Stephen Dale Petit to save the 100 Club in London. Other special guests at the show were Dick Taylor (first bassist in the Rolling Stones) and blues/jazz trombonist Chris Barber. Taylor toured the UK with Petit, appearing as his special guest, featured on a Paul Jones BBC Radio 2 session with him and guested on Petit's 2010 Classic Rock magazine Album of the Year, The Crave.[clarification needed]
For the 2010 re-release of Exile on Main St. Taylor worked with Mick Jagger at a London studio (November 2009) to record new guitar and vocal parts for the previously unreleased song, "Plundered My Soul". The track was selected by the Rolling Stones for release as a limited edition single on Record Store Day.
Taylor also helped to promote the Boogie For Stu album, which was recorded by Ben Waters to honour Ian Stewart (original Stones pianist and co-founder of the band), by taking part in a concert to mark the CD's official launch at the Ambassadors Theatre, London on 9 March 2011. Proceeds from the event were donated to the British Heart Foundation. Although Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn't show up, Taylor noticeably enjoyed performing with, amongst others, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman.
On 24 October 2012, the Rolling Stones announced, via their latest Rolling Stone magazine interview, that Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor were expected to join the Rolling Stones on stage at the upcoming November shows in London. Richards went on to say that the pair would strictly be guests. At the two London shows on 25 and 29 November, Taylor played on "Midnight Rambler".
During an interview on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show (broadcast on 8 April 2013), Keith Richards stated that Taylor would be performing with the Stones for their upcoming 2013 tour dates. Between 25 November 2012 and 13 July 2013 Taylor joined the Stones' 50 & Counting Tour performing at each of the 30 shows across Europe and North America, including sitting in on four songs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and several numbers during their headline set at the Glastonbury Festival. The tour ended with two concerts at Hyde Park, London, which resulted in the album, Hyde Park Live and the concert film Sweet Summer Sun: Live in Hyde Park. He once again accompanied the Stones between 21 February and 22 November 2014 for the 29 dates of the 14 On Fire concerts across Asia, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.
Throughout his career, Taylor has used various 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 Studios 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 St., a Gibson SG on the 1969, 1970 and 1971 tours, and occasionally a Fender Stratocaster and a Fender Telecaster.
Taylor has been married twice and has two daughters. Chloe (born 6 January 1971) is a daughter by his first wife Rose Millar. Taylor married Rose in 1975 after leaving the Stones, but the relationship was reportedly "on the rocks" before long and resulted in divorce only a few years later. His second daughter Emma was born from a short relationship with an American woman, who sang backing vocals with Taylor's band on one occasion.
Non-Rolling Stones work with Rolling Stones members:
Too Hot For Snakes and The Ring of Truth was released by Fuel / Universal autumn of 2012 as a 2-CD set with 3 bonus tracks including 2 previously unreleased songs from the Roxy Theatre.
Music DVDs – Unofficial
Taylor played guitar on various songs, including "Hello Mary Lou" after developing ideas for the soundtrack with John Phillips.
Music composers: Mick Taylor and Max Middleton
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