Friday, June 05, 2009

Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues, Is Gone

Sad day, sad day! Koko Taylor, Queen of the Blues, died yesterday from complications of surgery to stop gastrointestinal bleeding. She was 80. (Click here to visit her website.)

What a voice she had! I first saw Koko Taylor years ago up at the old House of Blues in Cambridge, MA. When she hit that feral yowl to start off "I'm a Woman" the audience damned near tore the roof off the place. I saw her another time at House of Blues, and she also appeared one year at the short-lived Newport Rhythm & Blues Festival. She had a growl, and a purr, and an incredible range, and everything she sang she sang right from the gut. When they talk about gut-bucket blues, that was Koko Taylor.

I have two of Ms. Taylor's performances here from YouTube. The first is a tribute slideshow set to a recording of her "I'm a Woman"; this was her response to Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy".

The second is Koko live at The Redlands in 1993 performing "Can't Let Go" with guitar greats Junior Wells and Lonnie Brooks.

Rest in peace, Koko! We miss you already!

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  1. Great remembrance. Koko was unique.

  2. I heard about this on NPR yesterday morning. They played just one tune but I was hooked!

    My musical education needs some work and it's a little sad that so often these days it is helped along because of a loss...

  3. that is sad - I discovered her a few years ago, she was amazing

  4. What a powerful voice. What a great memory that you hold of seeing her live performances.

    Great tribute Roy :)