Forgotten, But Far From Gone

Mick Taylor at Milwaukee's Up & Under Pub
Sept. 20, 2000

Ex- Rolling Stone Mick Taylor
Ex- Rolling Stone Mick Taylor

Story and Photo by Tony Bonyata

It's been 26 years since guitarist Mick Taylor walked out on the Rolling Stones, and since then he's rarely seen his share of the spotlight.
Taylor's resume of artists that he's worked with is quite astounding. He started his professional career at the tender age of 18 when he was pulled from the audience at a John Mayall's Bluesbreakers gig to sub for a missing Eric Clapton. He soon joined The Bluesbreakers as Clapton's full-time replacement. After the death of Rolling Stones' guitarist Brian Jones in 1969, Taylor was asked to join the band. This is where the young guitarist would make his biggest musical impact. From 1969 to 1974 Taylor's intricate leads and slide guitar were to be heard on classic Stones' albums such as Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goats Head Soup and It's Only Rock n' Roll , many of which are regarded as The Stones' finest works. With the multi-million dollar success The Rolling Stones have enjoyed over the last few decades, Taylor's decision to quit may seem like one of the most ill-fated career moves in rock history. And although he's kept relatively busy since his departure, mostly as a session man for artists such as Bob Dylan as well as scoring for film, his own recordings have been few and far between. He released his first self-titled solo album in 1979. Unfortunately, however, with the world turning to punk and new wave, the album languished with it's jazz-infused rock. 21 years later, he's finally followed up with his second solo effort, aptly titled A Stone's Throw, an album which finds Taylor returning to his blues / rock roots.
In support of his sophomoric release, Taylor brought his guitars and tight blues / rock band with him to Milwaukee's Up & Under Pub last Wednesday evening for an intimate, high energy performance.
Still sporting his long, sandy mop of hair, along with a few extra pounds, Taylor played heavy from A Stone's Throw, as he opened up with "Secret Affair," a cool, blues number featuring his sultry voice and smoother-than-silk guitar lines. He also performed the hard-rocking "Twisted Sister," "Losing My Faith," which featured his trademark searing slide guitar-work, and the down-n-dirty "Late at Night" for the packed house of loyal Stones fans and local blues lovers.
Taylor was accompanied onstage by ace session-men Max Middleton on keyboards (Jeff Beck, Kate Bush, Jack Bruce), guitarist Robert Ahwai (Marvin Gaye, George Michael), bassist Michael Bailey (Billy Ocean) and drummer Jeff Allen (Van Morrison, Bonnie Taylor). The addition of this hard-hitting team gave Taylor the perfect background for his rich, sumptuous guitar tones.
In addition to promoting his latest release Taylor also broke into a handful of covers such as Santana's latin-spiced "Moonflower," Willie Dixon's bluesy "You Shook Me," (which Taylor mistakenly gave credit to Muddy Waters) and Mississippi Delta bluesman Fred McDowell's "You Gotta Move," which The Stones covered on their Sticky Fingers album. On these numbers Taylor's virtuosity ran the rock / blues gambit, from over-the-top flash to smooth, poignant passages to the gut-wrenching slide-work that first impressed a young Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
Although this gifted musician may, unfortunately, have been forgotten by today's fickle rock world, Taylor proved, nonetheless, that as a live performer he's far from gone.

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