Slacker Logo

Johnnie Taylor

ON AIR
Advertisement
Advertisement

Bio

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
Read All Read Less

Albums by
Johnnie Taylor

false

    9 songs

    On Air

    Melanie Taylor

    17 songs

    On Air

    Around and Around We Go

    16 songs

    On Air

    Life Is a Journey

    16 songs

    On Air

    With Every Heart Beat

    14 songs

    On Air

    Keeps On Making a Way

    15 songs

    On Air

    It's Personal, Vol. 3

    19 songs

    On Air

    Jump 4 Joy, Vol. 2

    18 songs

    On Air

    The Ceremony of the King, Vol. 1

    15 songs

    On Air

    Looking for Something

    11 songs

    On Air

    Eargasm

    14 songs

    On Air

    Taylored in Silk

    12 songs

    On Air

    Super Taylor

    11 songs

    On Air

    Wanted: One Soul Singer

    12 songs

    On Air

    Who's Making Love...

    10 songs

    On Air

    This Is Your Night

    11 songs

    On Air

    Raw Blues

    5 songs

    On Air

    The Road I'm On

    6 songs

    On Air

    Soul Six Pack

    2 songs

    On Air

    Johnnie Taylor 1964

    1 song

    On Air

    Somebody's Getting The Love (feat. Rappin' 4-Tay) - Single

    1 song

    On Air

    Good Love [Cassette Single]

    23 songs

    On Air

    The Very Best of Johnnie Taylor

    14 songs

    On Air

    Stax Profiles

    10 songs

    On Air

    Super Hits

See All Albums

Top Songs by
Johnnie Taylor

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Who's Making Love
  3.   Disco Lady
  4.   I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)
  5.   Cheaper to Keep Her
  6.   Still Called the Blues
  7.   I'd Rather Drink Muddy Water
  8.   Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone
  9.   Just the One (I've Been Looking For)
  10.   I Had a Dream
  11.   Little Bluebird
  12.   I Got to Love Somebody's Baby
  13.   L.O.V.E.
  14.   Running Out of Lies
  15.   A Whole Lotta Woman
  16.   Ain't That Loving You
  17.   Troubled Days
  18.   Steal Away
  19.   Sending You a Kiss
  20.   Try Me Tonight
  21.   We're Getting Careless With Our Love
  22.   Wall to Wall
  23.   Next Time
  24.   Your Love Is Rated X
  25.   Right Now
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
Johnnie Taylor

    On Air

    Classic Soul

    On Air

    David Nail: I Am The DJ

    On Air

    Dad's Kitchen

    On Air

    '60s Hits

    On Air

    '70s Hits

    On Air

    My Parents' Record Collection

    On Air

    Disco Deep Dive

    On Air

    '70s Deep Dive

    On Air

    Oldies

    On Air

    Traditional Blues

    On Air

    '60s Deep Dive


Artists Related to
Johnnie Taylor

On Air

Percy Sledge

On Air

Sam & Dave

On Air

Otis Redding

On Air

Carla Thomas

On Air

Otis Clay

On Air

James Carr

On Air

Don Covay

On Air

Isaac Hayes

On Air

Millie Jackson