Shooby Taylor

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William "Shooby" Taylor
Born(1929-09-19)September 19, 1929
Indiana Township, Pennsylvania, U.S.[1]
DiedJune 4, 2003(2003-06-04) (aged 73)
GenresScat, outsider music, jazz
Years activec. 1975 - c. 1984[2]

William "Shooby" Taylor (September 19, 1929 – June 4, 2003) was an African American jazz vocalist famous for scat singing over various records, including the Ink Spots, the Harmonicats and Cristy Lane in a baritone voice. Nicknamed "The Human Horn", 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.[1] 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.

Shooby recorded 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.[citation needed]

Taylor was a participant on Amateur Night on the syndicated television program It's Showtime at the Apollo.[3][4]

In 1992, Shooby moved to a senior complex in Newark, New Jersey. Shooby experienced a stroke in 1994[5] that crippled his scat skill, also stopping him from recording and performing.

Shooby was "re-discovered" in spring 2002 by producer Rick Goetz, mainly by way of conducting a brute-force search cold calling every person named William Taylor in the New York City phone book. On August 28, 2002, Shooby appeared for his first and only radio interview on WFMU.[citation needed]

Taylor went missing soon after the interview. He died on June 4, 2003.[6] Plans for an official CD release of his work are still pending.


  • Ink Spots / Miles Davis / Mozart (cassette)
  • The Human Horn (and then some) (cassette, MP3)
  • Expressing Myself (parts 1 & 2) as "Shooby Taylor the Human Instrument" (January 1971 on Shooby Records)


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.

In the Illumination film Sing, a recording of "Stout Hearted Man" is used for one of the auditions.[7]


  1. ^ a b Mardesich, Andy. " - Dedicated to the Talented Shooby Taylor The Human Horn". Retrieved March 6, 2017.
  2. ^ "Shooby Taylor: The Human Horn | Journal by Irwin Chusid". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  3. ^ "Dedicated to the Talented Shooby Taylor The Human Horn". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  4. ^ Austen, Jake (July 1, 2005). "TV-a-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol". Chicago Review Press. Retrieved March 6, 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Shooby Taylor: The Human Horn | Journal by Irwin Chusid". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
  6. ^ "Shooby Taylor: 1929-2003". Retrieved July 1, 2015.
  7. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael; O'Sullivan, Michael (December 20, 2016). "As crooning animals, Hollywood heavyweights give 'Sing' the boost it needs". Retrieved March 6, 2017 – via

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