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Koko Taylor: Queen of the Blues

By Steve Rhodes

The first time I saw Koko Taylor - indeed the first time I heard her - wasn't here in Chicago but at a show in Tampa in the summer of 1990. I was working at a newspaper in nearby Lakeland at the time. My editor, in his inimitable minimal style, asked me one day: "Blues show. Tampa. Wannago?"

I did, and I was mesmerized. Koko and her band easily fell into that deep soul blues groove that can be so moving. Her rich and deeplly layered voice was one for the ages. That throaty growl! Like she had to clear her throat - but no, please don't! She always had a crack band with her, and her passion never wavered.

Koko Taylor is gone. She left us with many gifts.


1. My personal favorite: "I'd Rather Go Blind."*


2. I'm A Woman.


3. Excerpt From Scorsese's The Blues.


Thanks, Koko.


* Actually written by Ellington Jordan and first recorded by Etta James, but I like the inimitable way Koko does it.


- Comments welcome.


Posted on June 4, 2009

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