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Johnnie Taylor

Young gospel phenom, gritty Stax/Volt soulster, lady-killing balladeer, chart-topping disco king, Southern soul-blues stalwart -- Johnnie Taylor somehow always managed to adapt to the times, and he parlayed that versatility into a recording career that lasted nearly four decades. Nicknamed the "Philosopher of Soul" during his Stax days, that version of Taylor is best remembered for his 1968 R&B chart-topping smash "Who's Making Love," but far and away his biggest success was 1976's across-the-board number one "Disco Lady," the first single ever certified platinum (which at the time meant sales of over two million copies). When the national hits dried up, Taylor wound up as one of the most prolific artists on the Malaco label, a refuge for many Southern soul and blues veterans whose styles had fallen out of popular favor by the '80s. Taylor called Malaco home for over 15 years and kept on recording and performing right up to his passing in 2000.

Johnnie Harrison Taylor was born in Crawfordsville, AR, on May 5, 1934 (though he usually gave his birth year as 1938); he grew up mostly in nearby West Memphis. He began singing in church as a young child and later moved to Kansas City, where he performed with a gospel group called the Melody Kings; it was through this outfit that he initially met and befriended Soul Stirrers frontman Sam Cooke. In 1953, Taylor left home and moved to Chicago, where he joined the doo wop group the Five Echoes; shortly thereafter, he began performing concurrently with the gospel group the Highway Q.C.'s, which had once been home to Sam Cooke. In 1957, Taylor would replace Cooke in the hugely influential Soul Stirrers, after Cooke departed for a career in secular music.

After four years with the Soul Stirrers, Taylor escaped gospel music's waning popularity and followed Cooke into the world of secular soul, becoming the first artist to sign with Cooke's label, Sar, in 1961. Taylor released a few singles on Sar and another Cooke label, Derby, over the next few years, including the minor R&B hit "Rome (Wasn't Built in a Day)." Unfortunately, Cooke was murdered in late 1964, and his labels folded, leaving Taylor without a record deal. He returned to the Memphis area and signed with the enormously popular Stax label in 1965, debuting early the following year with "I Had a Dream." Taylor scored a few minor R&B hits over the next few years, including "I Got to Love Somebody's Baby," "Somebody's Sleeping in My Bed," and "Next Time." He hit it big in late 1968 with the gritty, funky "Who's Making Love," his first number one R&B hit, which also made the pop Top Five. Taylor was able to land some decent-sized follow-up hits in the years to come, among them "Take Care of Your Homework," "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone," "Steal Away," and "I Am Somebody." By the early '70s, Taylor's bread and butter had become smooth, elegant crooning, as typified by his 1973 album Taylored in Silk and his two attendant ballad smashes, "I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)" and "Cheaper to Keep Her."

When Stax went bankrupt in 1975, Taylor moved over to CBS/Columbia, debuting in 1976 with the album Eargasm. Its first single, "Disco Lady," was an instant smash, capturing the spirit of the era and selling over two million copies (although some soul fans still debate whether it was a true disco song). "Disco Lady" was Taylor's first number one pop hit, despite losing airplay over its supposedly suggestive lyrics, and it proved such a phenomenon that CBS eagerly pushed him to record more disco-oriented material, something Taylor wasn't extraordinarily comfortable with. He recorded several more albums for the label through 1980, but never came close to duplicating the success of "Disco Lady" and left to sign with the smaller Beverly Glen imprint in 1982.

Taylor recorded one album for Beverly Glen, 1982's Just Ain't Good Enough, which produced a minor R&B hit in "What About My Love." Still searching for a home more in line with the environment at Stax, Taylor soon jumped to Malaco Records, a Southern label dedicated to preserving the region's classic soul and blues sounds (albeit sometimes with a bit less grit than in days of old). Debuting with 1984's This Is Your Night, Taylor and Malaco clicked right away, and he wound up recording a total of 12 albums for the label over the next 15 years, ranking as one of their best-selling artists. Taylor's style during this era had evolved into a hybrid of soul and blues, with more emphasis on the latter than at any other point in his career; he continued to tour steadily through the '80s and '90s, and landed a few more singles on the lower reaches of the R&B chart up until 1990. In 1996, his album Good Love! topped the Billboard blues chart. Taylor's final album was 1999's Gotta Get the Groove Back; on May 31, 2000, he suffered a heart attack at his home in Duncanville, TX (a suburb of Dallas), and died at the hospital. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Stax Profiles

1. I Dreamed That Heaven Was Like This

2. Out On A Hill

3. Rome (Wasn't Built In A Day)

4. Just The One (I've Been Looking For)

5. Stop Doggin' Me (live)

6. Toe Hold

7. I've Been Born Again

8. Part Time Love

9. Who's Making Love

10. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water

11. Time After Time

12. I Am Somebody

13. Jody's Got Your Girl And Gone

14. Disco Lady

x

Track List: There's No Good In Goodbye

1. If Your Lookin' For A Fool

2. This Is The Night For Makin' Up

3. Crazy 'Bout You Baby

4. Take Me To The Mardi Gras

5. Too Wise To Be Your Fool

6. Baby Sittin'

7. You Know It Ain't Right

8. I'm In A Midnight Mood

9. If You Take Your Love Away

10. I Found All These Things

11. Please Sign The Dotted Line

12. Where Is Your Woman Tonight

13. Con Lover

14. Is This Love Is This Business

15. I Reach For You

16. The Second Time Around

x

Track List: funksoulbrother

1. I Want You Back Again

2. Never My Love

3. Heaven Bless This Home

4. Stop Half Loving These Women

5. I Wanna Get Into You

6. Bittersweet Love

7. Stormy

8. Love Account

9. Please Don't Stop The Music

10. Sneakin' Sneakin'

x

Track List: Gotta Get The Groove Back

1. Big Head Hundreds

2. I'm From The Old School

3. Juke Joint

4. One In A Million

5. Ease Back Out

6. Gotta Get The Groove Back

7. Wounded In The Battle Of Love

8. Too Close For Comfort

9. I Love You Lady

10. Woman, Don't Be Afraid

11. Let's Get Back On Track

12. Soul Heaven

x

Track List: Good Love

1. Good Love

2. Last Two Dollars

3. Sending You Kiss

4. Walk Away With Me

5. Too Many Memories

6. Ain't That Lovin' You

7. Too Late To Try To Do Right

8. Whole Lotta Lovin'

9. You Got Me In The Mood For Love

10. Slide On

11. Body Rock

12. This Masquerade

x

Track List: Rated X-Traordinaire The Best Of Johnnie Taylor

1. Disco Lady

2. Somebody's Gettin' It

3. You're The Best In The World

4. Running Out Of Lies

5. Your Love Is Rated X

6. Stop Giving People Hard Luck Stories

7. I'm Just A Shoulder To Cry On

9. Disco 9000

10. Right Now

11. Give Me My Baby

12. Play Something Pretty

14. Love Account

15. Just A Happy Song

16. God Is Standing By

x

Track List: The Best Of Johnnie Taylor On Malaco, Vol. 1

1. Still Crazy For You

2. Drown In My Own Tears

3. I Found A Love

4. Everything's Out In The Open

5. Don't Make Me Late

6. Nothing As Beautiful As You

7. This Is Your Night

8. Cheaper To Keep Her

9. Wall To Wall

10. Still Called The Blues

11. Something Is Going Wrong

12. Just Because

13. When She Stops Askin'

14. Nothing Like A Lady

x

Track List: Just Ain't Good Enough

1. What About My Love

2. Don't Wait

3. I'm So Proud

4. Just Ain't Good Enough

5. I Need A Freak

6. Reaganomics

x

Track List: Johnnie Taylor

1. Disco Lady

2. Please Don't Stop (That Song From Playing)

3. Don't Touch Her Body (If You Can't Touch Her Mind)

4. I'm Gonna Keep On Loving You

5. You're The Best Girl In The World

6. Running Out Of Lies

8. It Don't Hurt Me Like It Used To

9. Pick Up The Pieces

x

Track List: Taylored In Silk

1. We're Getting Careless With Our Love

2. Starting All Over Again

3. Cheaper To Keep Her

4. Talk To Me

5. I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)

6. One Thing Wrong With My Woman

7. I Can Read Between The Lines

8. This Bitter Earth

9. Hijackin' Love

10. Love In The Streets (Ain't Good As The Love At Home)

11. Standing In For Jody

12. Shackin' Up

13. Doing My Own Thing (Part 1)

14. Doing My Own Thing (Part 2)

x

Track List: Who's Making Love

1. Who's Making Love

2. I'm Not The Same Person

3. Hold On This Time

4. Woman Across The River

5. Can't Trust Your Neighbor

6. Take Care Of Your Homework

7. I'm Trying

8. Poor Make Believer

9. Payback Hurts

10. Mr. Nobody Is Somebody Now

11. I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water

12. Rumors

Comments

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I believe! I love you I love you!
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Soul man
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This music today just can't complete with yesterday's music....
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old school funk in the house nothing else like it ..........
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crewsluv65
The only one who has been in mom and dad
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God I do believe your the only one that can cure us of our pains thank you for the time we did have jhonnie taylor
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rhashenesalo n
Jesus help this sad world. I believe
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Yes sir I need u to help me pick em up
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One of the best
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This is the music you understand and here the words
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Rip to a great man
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Yes
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Stop half loving these women
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Love growing up & being exposed to his music
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�� right what I'm talking bought
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Johnnie Taylor
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lionheadbbk
This the one!
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Oh yeah
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This blues I will love!!!!!!! It best
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Great song!!!
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Been so long since I slow danced.
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My wife she believes in me
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You. �� I. WIll be a Dr
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��
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Good music
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Mms bfn.
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Where is e.j. echoes
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billiot.vond a
Yes Lord !!
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I will b the fool for you bby
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Loving you still.
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Where ya been all my life...tell me where ya been hiding
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Sexy Redd. Airplane
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If it ant the blue then.I.can't use it
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Jt is thee Best!
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he always gave us the blues
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latishamjohn s o n 7 3
REAL TALK ...... LOVING IT !!! True BLUES : )
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Ogterrybrook s l o v e j t
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Miss my dad he like listen to Johnnie Taylor
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In a rare class of great soul singers.
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Great soul music....... . . J T
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Special Love
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John great makes young one more time
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Good morning's,af t e r n o o n ' and great nights
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Love me some JT
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My favorite by IT was Part Time Love
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Nice story about johnnie of unsung...
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JT is the man
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I love me some JT ♡♡
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Love his soulful voice
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love that Johnnie
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