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Gritz Loses Another Old Friend, Koko Taylor

Posted: Jun 04, 2009

A long time friend of Gritz and a Grammy Award-winning blues legend, Koko Taylor, died on June 3, 2009 in her hometown of Chicago, IL, as a result of complications following her May 19 surgery to correct a gastrointestinal bleed. She was 80.

I first met Koko while writing for Goldmine Magazine, where I was given the opportunity to write a cover story on the blues diva. After that, we spoke several times on the phone, and she always said nice things about Gritz. Later on, she granted me a second interview as a Gritz exclusive.

On May 7, 2009 Koko, the “Queen of the Blues,” won her 29th Blues Music Award (for Traditional Female Blues Artist Of The Year), making her the recipient of more Blues Music Awards than any other artist.

Koko became a star during the early 1960's after signing with Chess Records, then after Chess was sold, she returned to Chicago and signed to Alligator Records in 1975.

During her 40-plus-year career, Taylor received every award the blues world has to offer. She was a member of The Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame, among her many other honors.

She shared stages with every major blues star, including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Junior Wells and Buddy Guy as well as rock icons Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.

Taylor’s final performance was on May 7, 2009 in Memphis at the Blues Music Awards, where she sang “Wang Dang Doodle” after receiving her award for Traditional Blues Female Artist Of The Year.

Survivors include Taylor’s husband Hays Harris, daughter Joyce Threatt, son-in-law Lee Threatt, grandchildren Lee, Jr. and Wendy, and three great-grandchildren.

Read my interview with Koko here.

Keep it Real. Keep it Southern.



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