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Koko Taylor biography

Koko Taylor Born: September 28, 1935, Memphis, Tennessee

Also known as: Cora Walton

Koko Taylor is a living testament to blues history and can still belt out a song as powerfully and joyfully as ever. A warm, charismatic performer, she has been the undisputed Queen of Chicago Blues for decades, and her reign is still going strong. Taylor’s career began after she and her husband moved from Memphis to Chicago, where they frequented the local blues clubs. Once she began sitting in with bands it quickly became obvious she could hold her own not only among female vocalists, but with any of the male heavy hitters, such as contemporaries Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters. Among her fans was blues great Willie Dixon, who was instrumental in the advancement of her career. Her recording of his original song “Wang Dang Doodle” climbed the rhythm and blues charts, was a million-plus seller, and remains one of her classics. For almost 20 years running she garnered the pretigious W.C. Handy Award. A legend in her own right, she has been compared to blues greats Bessie Smith and Big Mama Thornton. In the late 1980s Taylor overcame health challenges and adversity to maintain her reputation as a performer and recording artist of passionate, soulful blues.

Koko Taylor on record

Essential listening: “I’m A Woman,” “Wang Dang Doodle,” “What Kind of Man is This,” “I Got What it Takes”

  Koko Taylor