Monday, 17 June 2024

CyberSoulMan: R.I.P. Koko Taylor, 1928-2009

CyberSoulMan Thurman Watts (right) with Koko Taylor. Courtesy photo.



I ain’t in no hurry

but I ain’t got no time to lose ...

Chicago Blues Queen Koko Taylor, June 5, 2007

These are difficult times for your CyberSoulMan. Some of you may know that my mother recently left this earth for the next level and I’m dealing with all the accompanying emotion that accompanies a loss of that magnitude.

Koko Taylor, who passed June 3, was an artist dear to my mom’s heart, as well as my own.

My mom helped shape my blues sensibilities. I’ve written before that my mom introduced me to the music of Sugar Pie DeSanto. By way of mother inserting Koko Taylor’s classic song “Wang Dang Doodle” on the hi-fi, I became a Koko convert as well.

I actually met Koko face to face several times – on two occasions at the Russian River Blues Festival. At the 2007 Russian River I hung with her one on one for about 20 minutes until Little Richard’s limo pulled up and he requested her queenly presence. I also spoke with her briefly at the Chicago Blues Festival last year

I was very proud of returning from the 2007 Russian River Blues Festival with a picture I’d taken with Koko Taylor to present my mother. She, in turn, proudly displayed the picture on her refrigerator.

Prior to the event on the Russian River, I interviewed Koko Taylor on June 5, 2007, by phone for my Internet radio show. When I told her that my mom introduced me to her music she remarked that she would like to meet mom when she came to California. I thought that a very kind thing to say and when I repeated it to mom she received it kindly as well.

When Koko agreed to do a radio promo for me she graciously insisted on doing multiple takes until it was perfect. She was so willing to please and thoroughly enjoyed her work.

During my travel to the Chicago Blues Festival of 2008, I was able to witness Queen of the Chicago Blues Koko Taylor meet and greet Queen of the West Coast Blues Sugar Pie DeSanto.

Here is how I reported it for .

Fast forward to June 6, 2008. Before leaving the Essex Hotel for sound check, Queen of the West Coast Blues Sugar Pie DeSanto is summoned by the hospitality coordinator to the parking garage because Chicago Blues Queen Koko Taylor wants to greet Sugar Pie. They meet and greet each other like the long-lost sisters in the blues that they are. They hug and charm each other with statements like, "What you gon' do girl?"

"Honey, I'm gon' kill 'em." Koko does her dance. Sugar Pie does hers. It's a Soul Patrol moment.

That was exactly a year ago Saturday. I listened to the audio of the interview I did with Koko on Saturday and will be posting it on my Web site in the near future. Then you can hear Koko explain how she and her husband came to Chicago in the early 1950s from Bartlett, Tennessee. They came by bus and when they arrived all they had was a box of Ritz crackers and 35 cents between them.

Her story entails her humble beginnings scrubbing floors for $5 per week, meeting the legendary Willie Dixon at Sylvio’s in Chicago, auditioning for Leonard Chess and catapulting to the top of the Blues world and staying there her whole career.

She performed her last gig on May 7, where she received her 29th award for Traditional Blues Artist of the Year. Koko Taylor, The Blues Wailer, rest in peace.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts.


Upcoming cool local events:

Lake Blues All-Stars w/Neon, Blues Monday, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 8, Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, .

Open mike night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, .

Chris Botti in concert, 8:15 p.m. Saturday, June 20. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at .

Smokey Robinson in concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at .

The Four Tops in Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online at .


T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at



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