Guitar Player Since 9, Mick Taylor Has Pretty Much Done It All
Michael Kevin ‘Mick’ Taylor will turn 65 in about a week, but I hope he resists retirement as his credits make him one of England’s greatest contributions to Blues and Rock. He’d deserve that accolade if all he’d ever done were his stints with John Mayall and the Rolling Stones.
After learning guitar from an uncle at 9 years old, Mick Taylor formed and led a number of bands as a teenager, playing major concerts and clubs at an age when most musicians are just starting to develop their basic skills. One of his early bands was called The Gods and included Ken Hensley (later of Uriah Heep fame).
In 1965, Taylor had gone to see John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and, as was fairly common at that time, Eric Clapton hadn’t shown up. Fortunately for Mick, Eric’s guitar and amp were there and Taylor talked Mayall into letting him play the second set. Mayall was impressed enough to keep in touch and offered Mick a job with his band starting in 1966, a rare chance for a 17-year-old.
The aficionados were stunned that a ‘kid’ could do such a good job of replacing the legend Eric Clapton. Mick Taylor had become a force in British music circles.
Taylor recorded with The Bluesbreakers on several of their most important albums and was a very important part of the band until 1969. Then The Rolling Stones came calling, in need of a replacement for Brian Jones. From then until 1974, Taylor made a major contribution to some of the Stones’ most productive years, writing songs and playing some amazing guitar on some of the band’s most highly acclaimed albums.
By 1975, Mick Taylor was a victim of health problems, especially surgery for acute sinusitis. In December 1974, he announced he was leaving The Rolling Stones. But that certainly didn’t end his contribution to Rock and Blues. His very abbreviated list of accomplishments include Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells, time spent in the Jack Bruce Band, joining Alvin Lee in Ten Years After, periodic reunions with John Mayall and the Stones - plus a stint with Bob Dylan.
He has also contributed several very fine solo albums and the cleverly titled A Stone’s Throw will lend a song to this week’s Nine O’clock Blues.