Koko Taylor, singer
birth name: Cora Walton

Koko Taylor

September 28, 1928, Memphis, TN ~ June 3, 2009, Chicago, IL

An accomplished vocalist known for her hard-driving style, she is one of but a handful of women to receive widespread recognition in the male-dominated blues profession. The key to her success, Taylor admitted in an interview with Contemporary Musicians, is her adherence to traditional style. “I'm about the only woman out there singing the old, traditional Mississippi blues,” she said. “Guys like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, this is where I got my inspiration from. This is where I got my courage and strength. I would think that's what caused me to be where I am today.” ~ Musicianguide: Koko Taylor ~ retrieved June 5, 2013 © Musicianguide

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Inspired by gospel music and WDIA blues disc jockeys B.B. King and Rufus Thomas, Taylor began belting the blues with her five brothers and sisters, accompanying themselves on their homemade instruments. In 1952, Taylor and her soon-to-be-husband, the late Robert “Pops” Taylor, traveled to Chicago with nothing but, in Koko’s words, “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz Crackers.” In Chicago, “Pops” worked for a packing company, and Koko cleaned houses. Together they frequented the city’s blues clubs nightly. Encouraged by her husband, Koko began to sit in with the city’s top blues bands, and soon she was in demand as a guest artist. One evening in 1962 Koko was approached by arranger/composer Willie Dixon. Overwhelmed by Koko’s performance, Dixon landed Koko a Chess Records recording contract, where he produced her several singles, two albums and penned her million-selling 1965 hit ‘Wang Dang Doodle,’ which would become Taylor’s signature song. ~ Alligator Records: Koko Taylor ~ retrieved September 23, 2013 © Alligator Records

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