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Tenure with the Ventures
After drumming with Boris Pickett and Herb Alpert, Taylor joined the Ventures in 1962 to fill in for Howie Johnson, who had been severely injured in a motorcycle accident. Taylor's distinct, harder-edged rock style so impressed the members of the band, that they asked him to become a permanent member of the group. I asked Boris Pickett about this before his death, and he denied that it was Mel on Monster Mash.
Taylor used the traditional grip as opposed to the matched grip. He originally started out with The Ventures on a 4-piece drum kit with just hi-hats and a crash/ride cymbal. Towards the end of the 1960s, he expanded his kit to include multiple toms and double bass drums; he eventually added numerous crash cymbals to his set as well. His kit remained in this configuration until his death from cancer in 1996.
Taylor mentioned in many interviews that Gene Krupa, Buddy Rich, and Louie Bellson were some of his biggest influences while he was growing up, and that he got the double bass idea from Louie Bellson. Taylor used many drum kits over the years including Rogers, Ludwig, Gretsch, and Canopus. Taylor preferred Zildjian cymbals, Pro-Mark drumsticks, and Remo drumheads.
Only two weeks elapsed between Taylor's cancer diagnosis until his death.
Taylor released a solo album in 1965 ("Mel Taylor & The Magics In Action") and in the early 70s he released "007 James Bond", "Sand, sea and love", "Mel Taylor in Japan" and "Roll over Beethoven". He formed his own band called Mel Taylor & The Dynamics (1972–1973) when The Ventures became a nostalgia act. He wanted to concentrate on new material and the more progressive Ventures. After Mel died, his son Leon Taylor replaced him and has been The Ventures' drummer ever since.
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