Sunday, February 21, 2021

R.I.P Gene Taylor



I got to play with a few blues "legends" in my time and I count Gene Taylor among them. He passed away this week at his home in Austin where he had no heat or water apparently. Tragic. When I caught up with him backstage at the Downchild 50th anniversary blast on Bloor St, I reminded him about playing together at a steakhouse at Yonge & Davisville (The Steerman??) It was my early days in TO and I had an organ trio with Mike Fitzpatrick and Rod Phillips and Rod had to bow out of that gig. I was ready to cancel but Mike said "Let me call Gene Taylor." I said SURE! but as we were setting up I started prepping Gene on a couple of my tunes and he said "Let's just stick to standards." Well, I don't sing more than a handful of standards (though I reckon I could play them all) so it turned into the Gene Taylor show and I had the best seat in the house. The songs he chose, the way he weaved them together, his brilliant playing - I was watching a master at work. I remembered the "urban legend" that if you hired Gene you needed to provide a bucket (or a case) of cold beer next to the piano bench, so I offered him my beer tickets as well as his but I think he still rung up a tab that took a good chunk out of his pay. RIP the GREAT Gene Taylor