Grammy award winning singer Koko Taylor, A.K.A. the “Queen of the Blues,” was known primarily for her rough and powerful vocals and traditional blues style. The Shelby County Tennessee native left her Memphis Roots in 1952 to move to Chicago with her husband Robert “Pops” Taylor and worked as a house cleaner.
Taylor sat in with blues bands, and was discovered by Willie Dixon and Chess Records in Chicago, 1962. Her first and most major hit, “Wang Dang Doodle” would reach number four on the R&B charts and went platinum in 1966. Everything changed in 1989 for Taylor after a near fatal car crash.
Taylor signed with Alligator Records in 1975. She recorded over a dozen albums and would eventually win a Grammy award for best traditional blues album. She would also win 25 W. C. Handy Awards, more than any other artist.
After her recovery from a near-fatal car crash in 1989, Taylor made a cameo in films such as Blues Brothers 2000. She also opened a blues club on Division St. in Chicago in 1994 and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1997. Taylor had been playing 200 shows a year for decades. But that ended in October 2003 when she was struck down by a heart attack and slipped into a 28-day coma. After a difficult recovery, Taylor didn’t perform again until the spring of 2004.
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