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Johnnie Taylor

From Academic Kids

Johnnie Harrison Taylor (May 5, 1938May 31, 2000) was a vocalist in a wide variety of genres, from gospel, blues and soul to pop, doo-wop and disco.

Taylor was born in Crawford, Arkansas. He had one release, "Somewhere to Lay My Head", on Chicago's Chance Records in the 1950s, as part of the doo-wop group Five Echoes. His singing was strikingly close to that of Sam Cooke, and he was hired to take Cooke's place in Cooke's gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, in 1957.

A few years later, after Cooke had established his independent SAR Records, Taylor signed on and recorded "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" in 1962. However, SAR Records quickly became defunct after Cooke's death in 1964.

In 1966, Taylor moved to Stax Records in Memphis, who dubbed him "The Philosopher of Soul". He was, for a time, their best-selling artist, outselling such stars as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. His hits included "I Had a Dream" and "I've Got to Love Somebody's Baby" and especially "Who's Making Love", which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Top 40 and No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1968.

As Stax folded in the early 1970s, Taylor switched to Columbia Records, where he made his best-known hit, "Disco Lady", in 1975. "Disco Lady" was was the first certified platinum record.

Columbia pigeonholed Taylor as a disco artist, however, and neglected his wide-ranging talent. Not surprisingly, his record sales slipped. After a brief stint at Beverly Glen Records in 1982, Taylor signed with Malaco Records after the label heard him sing at blues giant Z.Z. Hill's funeral in the spring of 1984.

Malaco gave Taylor the type of recording freedom that Stax had given him in the late 1960s and early 1970s, enabling him to record ten albums for the Malaco label in his 16 year stint. Taylor's record sales were good but not enough for the singer to receive the national attention he once had.

However, in 1996, Taylor's eighth album on the label, "Good Love", reached #1 on Billboard's blues charts and #15 on the trade journal's R&B charts. With this success, Malaco recorded a live video of Taylor at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Texas in the summer of 1997. Needless to say, the Good Love album has become the biggest record in Malaco's history.

Johnnie Taylor died of a massive heart attack at Charleton Methodist Hospital on May 31, 2000 in Dallas, Texas.

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