Cultural Percussionist

Koko Taylor Day

Koko Taylor (born Cora Anna Walton, September 28, 1928 – June 3, 2009) was an American singer whose style encompassed many genres, including Chicago blues, electric blues, rhythm and blues and soul blues. She was sometimes called “The Queen of the Blues.” She was known for her rough, powerful vocals and traditional blues stylings. Her name was sometimes styled KoKo Taylor.

Born on a farm near Memphis, Tennessee, Taylor was the daughter of a sharecropper. She left Tennessee for Chicago in 1952 with her husband, Robert “Pops” Taylor, a truck driver. In the late 1950s she began singing in blues clubs in Chicago. She was spotted by Willie Dixon in 1962, and this led to more opportunities for performing and her first recording contract, in 1965, with Checker Records, a label owned by Chess Records, for which she recorded “Wang Dang Doodle“, a song written by Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf five years earlier. The record became a hit, reaching number four on the R&B chart and number 58 on the pop chart in 1966, and selling a million copies. She recorded several versions of the song over the years, including a live rendition at the 1967 American Folk Blues Festival, with the harmonica player Little Walter and the guitarist Hound Dog Taylor. Her subsequent recordings, both original songs and covers, did not achieve as much success on the charts.

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