Johnnie Taylor

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Johnnie Taylor
Johnnie Taylor.gif
Chicago, 1973
Background information
Birth nameJohnnie Harrison Taylor
Born(1934-05-05)May 5, 1934
Crawfordsville, Arkansas, United States
DiedMay 31, 2000(2000-05-31) (aged 66)
Dallas, Texas, United States
GenresR&B, soul, gospel, blues, pop, doo-wop, disco
Years active1953–2000
LabelsChance Records
SAR Records
Stax Records
Columbia Records
Beverly Glen Records
Malaco Records
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Johnnie Taylor
Johnnie Taylor.gif
Chicago, 1973
Background information
Birth nameJohnnie Harrison Taylor
Born(1934-05-05)May 5, 1934
Crawfordsville, Arkansas, United States
DiedMay 31, 2000(2000-05-31) (aged 66)
Dallas, Texas, United States
GenresR&B, soul, gospel, blues, pop, doo-wop, disco
Years active1953–2000
LabelsChance Records
SAR Records
Stax Records
Columbia Records
Beverly Glen Records
Malaco Records

Johnnie Harrison Taylor (May 5, 1934 – May 31, 2000)[1] was an American vocalist in a wide variety of genres, from rhythm and blues, soul, blues and gospel to pop, doo-wop and disco.


Early years[edit]

Taylor in 1967

Johnnie Taylor was born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas. As a child, he grew up in West Memphis, Arkansas and performed in gospel groups as a youngster. As an adult, he had one release, "Somewhere to Lay My Head", on Chicago's Chance Records label in the 1950s, as part of the gospel group Highway QCs, which had been founded by a young Sam Cooke. His singing was strikingly close to that of Sam Cooke, and he was hired to take Cooke's place in the latter's gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, in 1957.

A few years later, after Cooke had established his independent SAR Records, Taylor signed on as one of the label's first acts and recorded "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" in 1962. However, SAR Records quickly became defunct after Cooke's death in 1964.

In 1966, Taylor moved to Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was dubbed "The Philosopher of Soul". While there he recorded with the label's house band, Booker T. & the MGs. His hits included "I Had a Dream", "I've Got to Love Somebody's Baby" (both written by the team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter) and most notably "Who's Making Love", which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1968. "Who's Making Love" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.[2]

During his tenure at Stax, he became an R&B star, with over a dozen chart successes, such as "Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone", which reached No. 23 on the Hot 100 chart, "Cheaper to Keep Her" (Mack Rice) and record producer Don Davis's penned "I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)", which reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart. "I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)" also sold in excess of one million units, and was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in October 1973.[2] Taylor, along with Isaac Hayes and The Staple Singers was one of the label's flagship artists. He appeared in the documentary film, Wattstax, which was released in 1973.[3]

Columbia Records[edit]

After Stax folded in the mid 1970s, Taylor switched to Columbia Records, where he made his best known hit, "Disco Lady", in 1976. It spent four weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and six weeks on the Billboard R&B chart in the U.S. It peaked at #25 in the UK Singles Chart in May 1976.[4] "Disco Lady" was the first certified platinum single (two million copies sold) by the RIAA.

Malaco Records[edit]

After a brief stint at Beverly Glen Records, Taylor signed with Malaco Records after the label's founder Tommy Couch and producing partner Wolf Stephenson heard him sing at blues singer Z. Z. Hill's funeral in the spring of 1984.

Backed by members of The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section as well as in-house veterans like former Stax keyboardist Carson Whitsett and guitarist/bandleader Bernard Jenkins, Malaco gave Taylor the type of recording freedom that Stax had given him in the late 1960s and early 1970s, enabling him to record ten albums for the label in his sixteen-year stint.

In 1996, Taylor's eighth album for Malaco, Good Love!, reached number one on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart (#15 R&B), and was the biggest record in Malaco's history. With this success, Malaco recorded a live video of Taylor at the Longhorn Ballroom in Dallas, Texas in the summer of 1997. The club portion of the "Good Love" video was recorded at 1001 Nightclub in Jackson, Mississippi.

Taylor's final song was "Soul Heaven", in which he dreamed of being at a concert featuring deceased soul music icons Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and MGs drummer Al Jackson, Jr., among others.


In the 1980s Johnnie Taylor was a DJ on KKDA-FM, a Dallas/Fort Worth radio station. The station's format is mostly R&B and Soul oldies and their on-the-air personalities are often local R&B, Soul, blues, and jazz musicians. Mr. Taylor was billed as "The Wailer, Johnnie Taylor".


Taylor died of a heart attack at Charlton Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas, on May 31, 2000, aged 66.[5] Stax billed Johnnie Taylor as "The Philosopher of Soul". He was also known as "the Blues Wailer". He was buried beside his mother, Ida Mae Taylor, at Forrest Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Missouri.


Taylor was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999.

Musical influence[edit]

In 2004, the UK's Shapeshifters sampled Taylor's 1982 "What About My Love?", for their #1 hit single, "Lola's Theme".


Wanted One Soul Singer - Stax 715 * 1967

I Got To Love Somebody's Baby / Just The One I've Been Looking For / Watermelon Man / Where Can A Man Go From Here / Toe-Hold / Outside Love / Ain't That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One) ;/Blues In The Night / I Had A Dream / Sixteen Tons / Little Bluebird.

Who's Making Love - Stax 2005 * 1968

Who's making love / I'm not the same person / Hold on this time / Woman across the river / Can't trust your neighor / Take care of your homework / I'm trying / Poor make believer / Payback hurts / Mr. Nobody is somebody now / I'd rather drink muddy water

Raw Blues - Stax 2008 * 1968

Where there's smoke there's fire / Hello sundown / Pardon me lady / Where can a man go from here / That bone / That's where it's at / Part time love / If I had to do it all over again / You're good for me / You can't keep a good man down / You can't win with a losing hand

Released in 1968, this LP contains earlier recordings from the "blue" Stax period.

Rare Stamps - Stax 2012 * 1968

Who's making love / You can't get away from it / Toe hold / Just the one (I've been looking for) / I ain't particular / Take care of your homework / I've got to love somebody's baby / Little blue bird / I had a dream / Outside love / Somebody's sleeping in my bed / If I had to it all over

The Johnnie Taylor Philosophy Continues - Stax 2023 * 1969

Testify (I wonna) / Separation line / Love bones / Love is a hurting thing / I had a fight with love / I could never be president / It's amazing / Who can I turn to / Games people play / It's your thing

One Step Beyond - Stax 2030 * 1971

Time after time / Party life / Will you love me forever / I am somebody (pts. 1 & 2) / I don't wanna lose you (pts. 1 & 2) / Don't take my sunshine / Jody's got your girl and gone / A fool like me

Taylored in Silk - Stax 3014 * 1973

We're getting careless with our love / Starting all over again / Cheaper to keep her / Talk to me / I believe in you (you believe in me) / One thing wrong with my baby / I can read between the lines / This bitter earth

Super Taylor - Stax 5509 * 1974

It's September / Darling I love you / Try me tonight / Free / I've been born again / At night time (my pillow tells a tale on me) / I don't pay to get up in the morning / Just one moment

Original tracks on compilation LP's:

Soul Explosion - Stax 2-2007: Save your love for me / Twenty years from today Boy Meets Girl - Stax 2 2024

Boy Meets Girl - Stax 2-2024 (to be listed)

Original Stax compilation:

Johnnie Taylor's Greatest Hits - Stax 2032 (1971)

Post - Stax LP's (track listings to be added - eventually...)

Eargasm - CBS 81201 * 1976

Rated Extraordinaire - CBS 81757 * 1977

Disco 9000 - CBS 82367 * 1977

Reflections - RCA APL 1-2527 * 1977

Ever Ready - CBS 35340 * 1978

She's Killing me - Columbia 36061 * 1979

A new day - Columbia 36548 * 1980

What About My Love - Beverly Glen ?

Best of the Old and the New - Beverly Glen 10004 * 1983

This Is Your Night - Malaco 7421 * 1985

Wall to Wall - Malaco 7431 * 1986

Lover Boy - Malaco 7440 * 1987

In Control - Malaco 7446 * 1988

Crazy 'Bout You - Malaco 7452

Just Can't Do Right - Malaco 7460


Good Love - Malaco * 1996

Taylored to Please - Malaco * 1998


YearSingleChart Positions
US Pop[6]US
1963"Baby, We've Got Love"98*[9]-
1966"I Had A Dream"-19-
"I Got To Love Somebody's Baby"-15-
1967"Somebody's Sleeping In My Bed"9533-
1968"Next Time"-34-
"I Ain't Particular"-45-
"Who's Making Love"51-
1969"Take Care of Your Homework"202-
"Testify (I Wonna)"364-
"I Could Never Be President"4810-
"Love Bones"434-
1970"Steal Away"373-
"I Am Somebody Part II"394-
1971"Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone"281-
"I Don't Wanna Lose You"8613-
"Hijackin' Love"6410-
1972"Standing In For Jody"7412-
"Doing My Own Thing (Part I)"-16-
"Stop Doggin' Me"-13-
1973"I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)"111-
"Cheaper To Keep Her"152-
1974"We're Getting Careless With Our Love"345-
"I've Been Born Again"7813-
"It's September"-26-
1975"Try Me Tonight"-51-
1976"Disco Lady"1125
"Somebody's Gettin' It"335-
1977"Love Is Better In The A.M. (Part 1)"773-
"Your Love Is Rated X"-17-
"Disco 9000"8624-
1978"Keep On Dancing"-32-
"Ever Ready"-84-
1979"(Ooh-Wee) She's Killing Me" /
"Play Something Pretty"
1980"I Got This Thing For Your Love"-77-
1982"What About My Love"-24-
1983"I'm So Proud"-55-
1984"Lady, My Whole World Is You"-74-
1987"Don't Make Me Late"-74-
1990"Still Crazy For You"-60-


  1. ^ Stax Records, "Johnnie Taylor", Accessed 8 February 2010
  2. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 249 & 338. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  3. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 241. CN 5585. 
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 550. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^ Encyclopaedia of Arkansas, "Johnnie Harrison Taylor", Accessed 8 February 2010
  6. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 700. ISBN 0-89820-155-1. 
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 435. 
  8. ^ Betts, Graham (2004). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2004 (1st ed.). London: Collins. p. 772. ISBN 0-00-717931-6. 
  9. ^ No Billboard R&B chart published in this period

External links[edit]