Real Rock News
Happy Birthday Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor
Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Happy Birthday to Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, who turns 69 today (January 17th)!
In June of 1969, Taylor replaced the band’s co-founder Brian Jones shortly before his death, and less than a month later, on July 3rd, 1969, he made his live debut with the Stones at a free live concert at London’s Hyde Park. Taylor, who had previously played with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, toured extensively with the band until late 1973, and played on the Stones albums Let It Bleed, Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street, Goat’s Head Soup, and It’s Only Rock And Roll.
The Stones delighted fans in 2012 by inviting Mick Taylor to join them at all of their official 50th anniversary shows in London and the U.S. to play a show-stealing rendition of 1969’s “Midnight Rambler.” Taylor remained the featured attraction on the band’s subsequent dates through 2014 and often appeared on as many as three numbers each night — including the show-closing version of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Taylor, who’s currently working on his autobiography, recalled that back in the day, like any working band, the Stones were extremely tight — both on and off the road: “That whole period was incredibly intense and creative for all of us because it was a new beginning for the band — and they had signed a new contract with Atlantic Records and we had to, in theory, at least, we had to come up with at least six albums in six years. If we weren’t hanging out together or recording, we were touring. I just remember most of the time we were either in the studio, or we were socializing together, or we were on the road.”
In 1975 Mick Taylor appeared on England’s The Old Grey Whistle Test and shed light on his exit from the Stones’ camp: “It had been in the back of my mind for quite a long time. I mean, my role as lead guitarist has always been very satisfying, especially playing live onstage, which is where I feel I make my greatest contribution toward the group. But as my own music started to develop, it became more and more difficult to express myself within the style of the group. And, I mean, it’s the style of the Stones that makes them so good.”
Shortly after beginning his most recent stint in the Rolling Stones, we asked Mick Taylor if he had any apprehensions regarding rejoining the band prior its 50 & Counting Tour: “Well, I had my doubts before I did the O2 show in London, but I think after I did two shows in London with them — and a rehearsal — I was very confident that if they wanted things to continue, they would.”
Former Stones bassist Bill Wyman admits that he’s still in awe of Mick Taylor’s considerable talent: “Musically, he was a better musician than any of us in the band. Definitely. He was young, he was — God! Some of the things he did were, I don’t know — amazing. He was incredibly boring on the stage. He’d just stand there and look at his guitar, and do these amazing licks and riffs and solos. God, the audience (would only) see the top of his head all the time. I always thought, y’know, (laughs) he could’ve been — but then (laughs) I’m not a good one to talk am I? I don’t leap about much. In 30 years with the Stones I probably made three steps on the (laughs) stage.”
Taylor was responsible for some of the Stones’ most famous solos during their early ’70s heyday, and was highlighted on Sticky Fingers’ seven-plus-minute, Latin-infused workout “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” He has gone on record over the years claiming that he actually co-wrote many Stones songs for which he’s never been credited or compensated, including “Moonlight Mile,” “Sway,” “Winter,” “Till The Next Time We Say Goodbye,” and “Time Waits For No One,” among others.
After leaving the Stones in December 1974 and eventually being replaced by Ron Wood, Taylor briefly teamed up with Jack Bruce, with less than successful results.
Although Taylor continues to tour and record, he’s found his greatest success as a sideman, performing on Bob Dylan’s Infidels and Empire Burlesque albums, as well as touring with Dylan in 1984.
On December 15th, 1981, at the band’s Tattoo You tour, Taylor appeared on stage at Kansas City’s Kemper Arena and performed nearly the entire show with the band.
The band’s Tattoo You album featured “Tops” and “Waiting On A Friend,” two Goat’s Head Soup outtakes recorded in 1972 in Jamaica, which featured Taylor on guitar.
Taylor remains on good terms with the Rolling Stones, and has frequently sat in with Keith Richards, Ron Wood, and Bill Wyman over the years.
Mick Taylor was on hand in 1989 when the Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2010 he teamed up with Jagger and Richards to add overdubs to the unreleased material on the Exile On Main Street reissue.