She was a woman, she could sing the blues
June 3, 2009 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Koko Taylor (1928-2009) more than once said she hoped that when she died, it would be on stage (YT), doing the thing she loved most: Singing the blues (YT)...
posted by LinusMines (36 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by fixedgear at 5:38 PM on June 3, 2009

I once enjoyed a set of hers so much that when she got off stage I walked up and gave her a big smooch. I'd never done that at a show before and haven't since. RIP.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 5:41 PM on June 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by Rykey at 5:45 PM on June 3, 2009

I've know a couple of people who were lucky enough to back her up. There is no doubt she was a class act.

posted by Sailormom at 5:47 PM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:49 PM on June 3, 2009

Understandable. She probably did indeedly shook your wang dang diddly-Dum-Doodily.

posted by hal9k at 5:49 PM on June 3, 2009

posted by jabberjaw at 5:51 PM on June 3, 2009

posted by Joe Beese at 5:51 PM on June 3, 2009

posted by jonp72 at 5:54 PM on June 3, 2009


posted by msconduct at 5:57 PM on June 3, 2009

I used to work at Streeterville Studios in Chicago in 1998 a few years before it went under. I worked with a lot of well known and phenomenally talented people but with very few true professionals. She was one of them.

I assisted on a Koko Taylor session for Alligator Records where I think Keb Mo was sitting in on acoustic slide. Koko was a quiet unassuming little old lady with a soft raspy voice sitting in the break room while we were getting things ready. She looked like somebody's grandma just hanging out.

After the band played for a few minutes to get levels and warm up, she came in and brought her own microphone, a Shure Beta 58. She plugged it in and got a quick level. Then the engineer hit record and this little old lady opened up and let it rip. I remember thinking, "Holy shit! Where did that come from!" The band was on. She only needed 2 or 3 takes and she had it. In and out. She unplugged her mic, dropped it in her purse, chatted with the producer a bit and then left. I did the recall and documentation, cleaned up and went to my next session. I don't remember what it was.
posted by chillmost at 5:58 PM on June 3, 2009 [8 favorites]

I once enjoyed a set of hers so much that when she got off stage I walked up and gave her a big smooch.

I felt like doing that the time I saw her tear up a joint, only I figured she'd (justifiably) deck me.

All night long, Koko.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:03 PM on June 3, 2009

I didn't know her work at all, except (and this is going to sound flip but it's totally not) for the episode of Arthur she was on. Which is a fave of mine.

posted by DU at 6:13 PM on June 3, 2009

Koko on Arthur: Part 1 Part 2
posted by DU at 6:17 PM on June 3, 2009

What a woman. Once many years ago Koko came to my little silly town for a music event called "The Fall Fun Fest" which is not fun, but rather a chance for a buch of doctor's lawyer's wives to spend their husbands money and try and out do each other in civic grandiosity.

She was wonderful. I mean just pure blues woman wonderful, the way only she could be.
When her lead guitar player started making his axe moan like a woman in the throes of sweet sexual pleasure I could hear an audible gasp from the crowd as Anglo-Saxon Baptists tried to explain to their children what this wicked dark skinned servent of Satan was doing on the main stage.

The next year the headlining band was Wet Willie.
posted by nola at 6:19 PM on June 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

Did I mention her guitar player was preforming cunnilingus on his axe?
posted by nola at 6:25 PM on June 3, 2009

Ouch. That is a big loss.

posted by caddis at 6:45 PM on June 3, 2009

Christ that woman has some lungs on her.

posted by Malice at 6:58 PM on June 3, 2009

I mixed monitors for her once at a club in Asheville, NC. The Real Deal!
posted by toastchee at 6:59 PM on June 3, 2009

What a voice.

posted by marxchivist at 7:04 PM on June 3, 2009

Ah, damn.

posted by rtha at 7:07 PM on June 3, 2009

Koko was cool. Insane Asylum still packs a wallop.
posted by grounded at 7:19 PM on June 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by runincircles at 7:20 PM on June 3, 2009

posted by ornate insect at 7:49 PM on June 3, 2009

I was introduced to her and the blues thanks to Adventures in Babysitting
posted by fizzix at 8:26 PM on June 3, 2009

posted by pantagrool at 8:42 PM on June 3, 2009

posted by Opposite George at 9:16 PM on June 3, 2009


Dying on stage isnt all it's cracked up to be. I wish I could unsee Tommy Cooper's last performance.
posted by the cuban at 2:55 AM on June 4, 2009

Oh, what a voice.

posted by kalimac at 3:40 AM on June 4, 2009

posted by Thorzdad at 4:31 AM on June 4, 2009

Here she is on local TV 3 years ago - want to see a 77 year old rock?

The only time I saw her I was kind of drunk and stupid and not paying attention, something I regret.

Everyone that knew her treasured her, someone of real substance, equal to her tremendous voice.

posted by readery at 5:49 AM on June 4, 2009

My first guitar teacher had been in her backing band for several years (and may very well be the fellow in nola's story), and he impressed to me, the young white kid from Tennessee, that she the real deal and I should take the opportunity to see her as soon as possible, it would be good for my soul. I didn't see her until many years later, and she opened for Buddy Guy. I've spoken before of the passion that Buddy plays with, but her coming out and singing one song with him may be the most blues power I've seen on one stage, and by two people in their 70's, no less.

She was a legend, and she played it well, up to the very end. Peace to her.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 6:06 AM on June 4, 2009

OOOH Shit!

When I was in colege in Jackson, MS we used to go to this filthy, rundown, illegal* after hours blues bar that was down in a basement. You'd pay a cover which entitled you to entry and cheap beer from an iced bucket. Various blues artists who were playing in the area would stop by and perform unannounced on the "stage" (read: area in the front end of the bar that was raised about 3 inches higher than the rest) after the clbs they had performed at closed down. One late, late night I was there and the crowd was fairly thin but suddenly filled in tightly. The usual house band was jamming away when a short, rather heavy set woman took the stage. She was bringing the house down with blues, funk, and soul standards. I was, along with everyone else, quite hammered and I began to sing along with her on the song Strokin' which she found (as I was a scrawny, scraggly white boy yet I knew all the words) incredibly hillarious. She extended her hand and pulled me up to do a rather grinding and erotic duet and dance with me. Afterwards she gave me a big kiss and said "that was fantastic, baby," and went back down into the crowd to my friends for more awesome blues. Afterwards my friends turned to me and said, "you do realize you were just strokin' Koko Taylor?"

*When I say illegal, I mean that everybody knew about it and accepted it and you'd often be there (very drunk) sitting between the (very drunk) mayor and a janitor (also very drunk).
posted by Pollomacho at 6:17 AM on June 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


In addition to teh awesome, she was a very sweet lady.
posted by applemeat at 7:47 AM on June 4, 2009

posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 11:06 AM on June 4, 2009

Definitely my favorite all-time blues singer from Chicago.

To see her perform live was definitely a thrill.
posted by Hadley at 6:53 AM on June 7, 2009

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