Thursday, June 4, 2009

Remembering Koko Taylor, the Queen of Blues

-Koko Taylor singing “Wang Dang Doodle” 1967-

"Even when I'm doing down-in-the-basement blues, slow-like, those songs are not depressing. I do it all uplifting. I want people to feel like clapping, laughing and just having a good time -- enjoying themselves. I don't want people to say that (they're down) or put their heads down. My blues are feel good songs."

-Legendary Queen of the Blues, Miss Koko Taylor-

Chicago, IL – Ladies and gentleman, I am so sad to inform you that our beloved Sweet Home Chicago blueswoman, Koko Taylor, has died today.

My friends and I used to go see her perform at Biddy Mulligan’s and in other small bars around Evanston during the late 70’s and 80’s and dance all night long, into the morning hours.

Koko Taylor’s voice was, like her personality, strong and powerful and generous. And her smile, well, like a million bucks. She was so nice and really cared about her audience and always, always made her blues singing lively and fun.

Most of the time a warm up band would play first and then we would hear the exciting announcement: “Ladies and gentleman, I present Miss Koko Taylor” and the energy would turn electric. When intermission would come around, if we were near the stage (as I often found myself as a student of dance then) she’d ask us how we were doing, her brow sweating as she looked liked she needed to rest her vocal chords, have a drink and take a break - but she would talk to us anyway, about stuff like what we were studying in school. Koko was the real deal.

But it was one late evening, when we were right up in front of the packed stage dancing our asses off, when the band stopped playing between songs Koko threw back her head and with a big laugh, she looked right at me and said “Not bad moves for a white girl!” What an incredible woman, I remember her like it was yesterday and will never forget her big love of the music, the people, and the Chicago blues scene.

Special thanks to Jessi Virtusio of the SouthtownStar, who has written a wonderful memorial Remembering Koko Taylor, The Queen of Blues R.I.P. here.

God bless you, Koko Taylor, you bring down the house up there like you always did here and my prayers are with your family.


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