Sam Taylor (blues musician)
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Taylor performing at the Port Jefferson American Music Festival, 2006.
|Birth name||Samuel Willis Taylor Jr.|
|Also known as||Bluzman|
October 25, 1934|
Mobile, Alabama, United States
|Died||January 5, 2009
Islandia, New York, United States
|Genres||Rock and roll, pop, jump blues, R&B|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, bandleader, boxer|
|Associated acts||Joey Dee and the Starliters|
Taylor's more popular recordings included "Funny", "Drinking Straight Tequila" and "Voice of the Blues". He variously worked with Joey Dee and the Starliters, Otis Redding, B.T. Express, The Drifters, Big Joe Turner, T-Bone Walker, Sam & Dave, Tracy Nelson, Mother Earth and The Isley Brothers. Taylor was inducted to the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
Born Sam Willis Taylor Jr. in Crichton, a suburb of Mobile, Alabama, Taylor began singing gospel at the age of three. His Long Island connection began in 1957, during his service in the United States Air Force. He was stationed at the Westhampton Beach Air Force Base, which was a short distance from the Blue Bird Inn.
After leaving the service in 1959, Taylor lived in Riverhead. His first major professional gig was as Maxine Brown's bandleader at the Apollo Theater and his first #1 R&B hit single was "Funny". Taylor himself, often going using his fuller name of Sammy Taylor, recorded for various labels including Capitol, Enjoy and Atlantic Records.
The songwriter of hundreds of songs, many of them hits such as "Peace Pipe", performed by the B.T. Express, Taylor's efforts were recorded by Freddie King, Chubby Checker, Son Seals, Jimmy Witherspoon, Brook Benton, Jay and the Americans, Joey Dee, Maxine Brown and Joe Tex. Taylor also was the bandleader and/or guitarist for Big Joe Turner, The Isley Brothers, Tracy Nelson, Otis Redding and Sam & Dave.
Taylor and his songwriting partner, Bennie Earl, mentored young Florida duo Sam & Dave wrote two of their early hits "People in Love" and "Listening For My Name", when the duo recorded for Roulette Records, predating their later success with Stax/Volt. Taylor was also an original member and guitarist/songwriter for Joey Dee and the Starliters. With fellow Starliter Dave Brigatti, Taylor had a strong influence on The Rascals, which included Brigati's younger brother Eddie. He also wrote some of the first songs for The Vagrants which included Leslie West who would later go on to form Mountain. After recording and appearing in two films with the Starliters including Two Tickets to Paris, Taylor took his friend Jimi Hendrix with him to tell Joey Dee and Morris Levy to let the young upstart take his place in the group.
At the start of the 1970s, Taylor and Earl were hired as staff songwriters for The Beach Boys record label, Brother Records, until Brian Wilson burned the studio with Taylor and Earl's demos for the group going up in flames. At that time, Taylor released his first solo album Tunnels Of My Mind on the GRT label. He was later hired by Roadshow Records as an A&R/songwriter for the acts they were signing. He was told by the record producer Jeff Lane that, in exchange for helping them build up the company, he would be granted a solo deal for three albums. The most notable of these artists was King David House Rockers who became B.T. Express. Taylor played rhythm guitar on all tracks of the group's first five albums, with the first three being million sellers, "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)", "Non-Stop" and "Energy to Burn". He also played the organ on the group's million seller, "Do It Your Satisfied". Taylor's song "Peace Pipe" became one of the group's biggest hits.
Taylor also produced and wrote songs for Norma Jenkins debut album, Patience is a Virtue.
By the late 1970s, he moved to Santa Monica, California, where at Venice Beach he attracted fellow artists such as Rickie Lee Jones and Tom Waites, but drug addiction and medical problems Threatened to dull his musical edge.
Taylor moved to Tucson, Arizona to get cleaned and became a prime figure in Arizona's heavy music scene, where he hosted his own television program, Down To Earth & popular radio show called "The Blues According To Sam" On KXCI. It was also in Arizona that Taylor began a modest acting career appearing movies & TV with Lou Gossett Jr, Mario Van Peebles and Barbara Eden. He also appeared in the film, Tape Heads, with two of his compositions used in the film.
Taylor's music has been heavily sampled by rap artists. The sole composition he wrote for B.T. Express which was "Everything That's Good To Ya (Aint Always Good For Ya)" became an extremely popular hip hop sample used by EPMD, Beanie Sigel, Mase, Jay-Z & more notably DMX's first #1 Platinum hit "Get at Me Dog". His prominent vicious rhythm guitar licks from those B.T Express songs can be heard sampled in SWV "Use Your Heart" & EPMD "So Wat Cha Sayin"
Upon his son Bobby's death, Taylor returned to New York. He was a resident of Central Islip until his own demise. There Taylor released five albums including Blue Tears, Voice of the Blues, Bluzman Back Homewhich is a critically acclaimed live recording from his 2004 Riverhead Blues Festival set and Portrait: The Funky Side Of Sam which features the song "Freaks" duet which is a duet with his grandson L*A*W who is a Grammy Nominated Singer/Songwriter/Musician known for his work with Amy Winehouse & George Clinton/P-Funk who also is the A&R for the album. Taylor also hosted WUSB (FM)'s Blues With A Feeling radio show. Along with Joan Jett, Billy Joel, Vanilla Fudge, KISS, Mountain, Shadow Morton, Run–D.M.C. and Twisted Sister, Taylor was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006, and the Arizona Blues Hall Of Fame in 1997. Just before his death, he released his autobiography, Caught in the Jaws of the Blues.