Johnnie Taylor (May 5, 1934 - May 31, 2000) was a highly acclaimed R&B/soul singer with distinctive powerful, gritty vocals who became famous beginning in the late 1960s. Over his long career, he performed in a wide variety of genres spanning doo-wop, gospel, blues, R&B, soul, pop, and disco. Born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas and raised in West Memphis, he sang gospel music as a child and began his career during the early 1950s performing with The Five Echoes and The Highway Q.C.'s before replacing Sam Cooke in The Soul Stirrers in 1957. He landed his first recording contract in 1962 with Cooke's label, SAR Records, which dissolved soon after his death in 1964. Taylor then signed with Stax Records in 1966 and became one of that label's top artists.
Taylor made his debut on the Pop/Rock charts in 1962 with "Rome (Wasn't Built In A Day)," which became a minor hit. Several other minor hits followed on both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts before his fame took off in 1968 with the cheeky and reproving "Who's Making Love," which topped the R&B charts, made the Pop/Rock Top 5, and became his first gold record. Other songs for which Taylor is best known also include the R&B chart toppers: "Jody Got Your Girl And Gone" (1971), the gold-certified "I Believe In You (You Believe In Me)" (1973), and his greatest hit, the platinum-certified "Disco Lady" (1976), which also topped the Pop/Rock charts. Taylor's long string of hits also included "Take Care Of Your Homework" (1969), "Testify (I Wonna)" (1969), "Love Bones" (1970), "Steal Away" (1970), "I Am Somebody Part II" (1970), "Cheaper To Keep Her" (1973), "We're Getting Careless With Our Love" (1974), "Somebody's Gettin' It" (1976), and "Love Is Better In The A.M. (Part 1)" (1977).
Over his long career, Johnnie Taylor continued to perform and record actively. During the 1980s, he also worked in Texas as a DJ at KKDA, a radio station in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. A three-time Grammy nominee, he was honored in 1999 with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. Stax dubbed him "The Philosopher Of Soul," and he was also known as "The Blues Wailer."
- The New York Times remembers Johnnie Taylor.
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- Cheaper To Keep Her 1973
- I Am Somebody Part II 1970
- I Believe In You (You Believe In Me) 1973
- Take Care Of Your Homework 1969
- Testify (I Wonna) 1969
(This song was previously a hit for the Parliaments (1967).)
- We're Getting Careless With Our Love 1974
- Who's Making Love 1968
(This song later also became a hit for Young-Holt Unlimited (1969) and the Blues Brothers (1981).)
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