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Koko Taylor, 80

| June 3, 2009

Queen Of The Blues dies in Chicago


The Chicago Tribune is reporting that blues dynamo Koko Taylor has died at Northwestern Memorial while recovering from surgery on a gastrointestinal bleed after what was believed to be a successful procedure. She was one of the few women in the male-dominated Chicago blues world of the ’60s heyday, and released one of its seminal sides, “Wang Dang Doodle,” in 1966.

Taylor moved to Chicago in the ’50s from Memphis (where she gave what would be her final performance, on May 7th) allegedly without the intention of making music, though she had sung gospel in church. After sitting in with assorted bands in the early ’60s, she fell under the tutelage of the great Willie Dixon, who convinced her to sing her signature tune. From then forth, she became an indomitable presence, and was one of the first South Side blues artists to get regular work on the North Side. Taylor won a Grammy in 1984 and 20 years later was handed the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment For The Arts. She holds 25 Blues Music Awards, and has been nominated for Grammys for seven of the eight albums she recorded for her final home, Chicago’s Alligator Records.

In 2003, Taylor underwent surgery for the same gastrointestinal bleed. It nearly killed her, as she suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma, eventually needing to relearn walking. We’ll have a full rememberance in our July issue.

Steve Forstneger


Category: News, Weekly

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  1. BluesFan says:

    I saw Koko at BluesFest last year.
    She still had the voice and the passion she had 20 years ago. I’ll
    miss our hometown Blues Queen. RIP
    Koko Taylor…..