Archive for June 3rd, 2009

3rd June
written by Matt The Cat
Koko Taylor

1928 – 2009

It is with a heavy heart that I must report that one of the true “Queens Of The Blues”, the great Koko Taylor (born Cora Walton) has passed on at the age of 80. She died the afternoon of June 3rd while recovering from surgery to repair gastrointestinal bleeding.

In 1966, she struck blues gold with the incredible “Wang Dang Doodle”, which was released by Chess’ Checker imprint and hit a stunning #4 on the R&B; charts. Since then, she’s toured constantly, helping to keep the classic brassy female blues singing style alive. Though she never had another hit single, she had many successful LPs on both Chess and Alligator labels.

She was born in Memphis on September 28, 1928 and earned her nickname “Koko” over her love for chocolate. Her mother died when she was just ten years old, so Koko and her brothers and sisters had to help their father work the fields to support the family. She started singing in the church and didn’t turn professional until after she moved to the South Side of Chicago in 1953. She met Chess Records A&R; man, Willie Dixon in 1962 and he signed her to Checker, a Chess subsidiary. Willie sang the harmony on and wrote Koko’s 1966 classic “Wang Dang Doodle”, which sold over one million copies and hit #4 on the R&B; Charts and an impressive #58 on the pop chart.

Koko was nominated for a Grammy Award for her debut album for Alligator records, “I Got What It Takes” in 1975. Her final album, “Old School” was issued by Alligator in 2007.

There aren’t many women today who sing in the classic style of Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton and we have now lost another. Koko Taylor was certainly a Force Of Nature and will be greatly missed.

Here is a clip of Koko performing her hit, “Wang Dang Doodle” live with Little Walter on harp.