ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7 Blesok no. 21 | volume IV | June-July, 2001
Blesok no. 21,
Interview with Koko Taylor
"I Remember All the Lights of the City"
1. At what age did you start your career in music?
I STARTED SINGING AS A CHILD WITH MY BROTHERS AND SISTER'S OUT BEHIND OUR HOUSE. I CAME TO CHICAGO WHEN I WAS 18.
2. Was music sort of tradition in your family and what kind of music you have listened to at that time?
WE LISTENED AND SANG GOSPEL MUSIC. BUT US KIDS ALL LOVED THE BLUES. WE USED TO LISTEN TO B.B. KING'S RADIO SHOW AND RUFUS THOMAS' RADIO SHOW AND LEARN AND SING ALL THE SONGS WE HEARD.
3. Who were your early musical influences, what sort of music did you prefer most?
MEMPHIS MINNIE'S BLACK RAT BLUES WAS ONE OF MY VERY FIRST FAVORITES.
4. Beside singing did you play any instruments?
NO, ALTHOUGH I DO PLAY A LITTLE GUITAR NOW AND THEN JUST FOR FUN.
5. Whose vocal style had most impression on you and did you “borrow” some of it?
MEMPHIS MINNIE STUCK TO MY BONES MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE.
6. Where were you born?
OUTSIDE OF MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE.
7. When did you come to Chicago?
I CAME TO CHICAGO WHEN I WAS 18. MY HUSBAND POPS AND I CAME ON A GREYHOUND BUS WITH NOTHING MORE THAN 34 CENTS AND A BOX OF RITZ CRACKERS.
8. How and when did you land a deal with Chess Records?
I WAS SINGING, JUST SITTING IN, WITH HOWLIN' WOLF'S BAND ONE NIGHT WHEN WILLIE DIXON APPROACHED ME AND SAID, 'THE WORLD NEEDS A WOMAN WHO CAN SING THE BLUES LIKE YOU.' NEXT THING I KNOW I HAVE A RECO0RDING CONTRACT WITH CHESS. I DIDN'T EVEN KNOW WHAT A RECORDING CONTRACT WAS, LET ALONE A RECORDING STUDIO. BUT THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED.
9. Was the blues scene then a tough competition among blues women, or you were friends with everybody?
MUDDY WATERS WAS MY NUMBER ONE MAN. I LOVE THEM ALL. THE HOWLIN' WOLF, WILLIE DIXON, BUDDY GUY, B.B. KING, LUTHER ALLISON.
10. How did you get songs, did somebody write especially for you or you also sang other people's material?
WILLIE DIXON TAUGHT ME TO WRITE SONGS. AND I'M ALWAYS LISTENING TO MUSIC, COMING UP WITH IDEAS OR SONGS I LIKE.
11. Who were your favorite musicians in those days, the ones you've played with or some other?
ALL OF THEM. I LOVED LISTENING TO THE BLUES.
12. Who was most supportive of your talents?
MY FAMILY, MY FRIENDS. BUT WILLIE DIXON GAVE ME THE BIGGEST BREAK OF ALL.
13. In those days, Chicago seemed to be blues center
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