Shooby Taylor

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William "Shooby" Taylor
Born (1929-09-19)September 19, 1929
Origin American flag U.S.
Died June 4, 2003(2003-06-04) (aged 73)
Genres Scat, Outsider music
Occupation(s) Singer
Instruments Vocal
Years active c. 1975 - c. 1984[1]
Labels N/A

William "Shooby" Taylor (a.k.a. "The Human Horn") (September 19, 1929 - June 4, 2003) was an American jazz vocalist famous for scat singing over various records, including the Ink Spots, the Harmonicats and Cristy Lane in a baritone voice. He is noted for his highly idiosyncratic scat style, using sounds and syllables quite unlike those used by other scat singers.


Shooby Taylor was born in Indiana Township, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1929. Shortly thereafter he moved with his family to Harlem, where he spent the majority of his life. Besides Shooby's several decades of pursuing a career as a scat singer, he also worked 21 years as a New York City postal worker.

He is most famously known for the 14 tracks he recorded in the early 1980s, at the now nonexistent Angel Sound Studios in Manhattan. These recordings began circulating among tape and file-swappers and are now available at the official Shooby Taylor website.

Shooby recorded earlier as Shooby Taylor the human instrument. There is at least one "arcade recording", a two sided 45 rpm record of the acapella scat Expressing Myself parts 1 & 2 from 1971. This was given as a gift to Beverly Anderson who worked at the veterans hospital in Staten Island where, according to Beverly, Mr. Taylor was an intermittent psyche ward patient.

Video of a 1983[2] appearance at the Apollo Theater has also surfaced, and is the only known footage of Shooby performing. Taylor was booed off the stage moments after beginning his act.

In 1992, Shooby moved to a senior complex in Newark, New Jersey. Shooby experienced a stroke in 1994[3] that crippled his scat skill, also stopping him from recording and performing.

Shooby was "re-discovered" in spring 2002 by producer Rick Goetz. On August 28, 2002, Shooby appeared for his first and only radio interview on WFMU.

Taylor went missing soon after the interview. He died on June 4, 2003.[4] Plans for an official CD release of his work are still pending.


Shooby Taylor the Human Instrument "Expressing Myself" parts 1 & 2 January 1971 (on Shooby Records)

Pop-Culture References[edit]

In the song "Walk & Chew Gum" by the band Optiganally Yours, there's a mentioning of Shooby Taylor in the last line of their scat-like bridge.

The Adam and Joe Show, a UK TV series from the 1990s, used the first 4 seconds of Shooby Taylor's version of "Lift Every Voice and Sing", at the start of their theme tune.


  1. ^ "Shooby Taylor: The Human Horn | Journal by Irwin Chusid". Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  2. ^ "Dedicated to the Talented Shooby Taylor The Human Horn". Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  3. ^ "Shooby Taylor: The Human Horn | Journal by Irwin Chusid". Retrieved 2013-03-10. 
  4. ^ "Shooby Taylor: 1929-2003". Retrieved 1 July 2015. 

External links[edit]