Though neither was particularly young, both were sharply talented, and so a week that takes both actor David Carradine and “Queen of the Blues” KoKo Taylor seems especially ugly.
When I heard Taylor had died, my mind went to a single song, though she performed many. Still, “Wang Dang Doodle” was somewhat anthemic in Taylor’s hands, a call to good times and living well and the sexual overtones never seemed accidental.
Born Cora Walton in 1928, Taylor was a sharecropper’s daughter from Shelby County, Tennessee. Her final public performance was just days ago at the Blues Music Awards on May 7th.
The Daily Telegraph offers up a royal obituary:
Famously capable of standing up for herself, and tolerating no nonsense from any of her male colleagues, she recently declared: "It's tough being out there doing what I'm doing in what they call a man's world." With her big, raw "blues shouter" of a voice, she took her cues from the likes of Bessie Smith, Big Mamma Thornton and Memphis Minnie, later influencing an entire generation of younger female blues artists.
We bow our heads. And listen.