Mick Tay­lor

This is­sue, Jim Clark takes a look at the early play­ing ca­reer of Mick Tay­lor who, be­fore join­ing The Rolling Stones, cut his teeth as a John May­all ‘ Blues­breaker’.

Guitar Techniques - - Lesson: Blues -

Mod­er­ate/ Ad­vanced

THE GUI­TAR SPOT in John May­all’s Blues­break­ers has been some­thing of a ca­reer spring­board for some of the UK and Amer­ica’s blues gui­tar masters. US greats in­clud­ing Wal­ter Trout ( thank­fully on the mend from ma­jor surgery), Coco Mon­toya and of course Buddy Whit­ting­ton have held the chair since May­all re­lo­cated to Amer­ica. But it was Brit leg­ends Eric Clap­ton and Peter Green who, hav­ing tasted fame in May­all’s band, went on to su­per- suc­cess­ful ca­reers. Due to a lucky twist of fate – and a pre­co­cious talent – Mick Tay­lor, found him­self fol­low­ing in their hal­lowed foot­steps.

In 1965, at age 16, Tay­lor at­tended a Blues­break­ers gig in his home­town, ex­pect­ing to wit­ness Clap­ton in full flight. To his sur­prise, ‘ God’ was a no- show. See­ing Clap­ton’s gear set up on­stage, Tay­lor ap­proached May­all dur­ing the in­ter­val to ask if he could pop up and play one of his gui­tars, as he knew a few of the band’s tunes. Sur­pris­ingly, May­all agreed – and Tay­lor ended up play­ing the sec­ond set with the band. Af­ter gain­ing May­all’s im­me­di­ate re­spect, the two ex­changed num­bers.

This en­counter would be cru­cial, as a year later, May­all was on the hunt for a new gui­tarist to fill Peter Green’s va­cancy. He con­tacted Tay­lor to of­fer him the gig, and Mick made his Blues­break­ers de­but at Manor House, an old blues venue in North Lon­don. The gig cre­ated quite a buzz through­out the blues scene, with many want­ing to at­tend purely to see this 17- yearold kid try and fol­low Eric and Peter.

It was quite nervewrack­ing to fol­low in the foot­steps of Peter Green and Eric Clap­ton. But af­ter about six months, I felt very con­fi­dent and had de­vel­oped my own sound. Mick Tay­lor

Tay­lor re­mained with May­all be­tween 1967 to 1969, be­fore join­ing The Rolling Stones af­ter the un­timely death of Brian Jones. He would play with May­all again be­tween the years 1982 to ’ 83, and again in 2004.

Tay­lor’s style is a com­bi­na­tion of blues with el­e­ments of jazz, Latin and even coun­try gui­tar present. His rhyth­mic phras­ing can be rather fran­tic and jagged, with a fiery de­liv­ery, as demon­strated in the two solo stud­ies that fol­low. Both are in the key of C, and fol­low a stan­dard 12- bar blues for­mat, with a quick change to the IV chord in bar 2.

Due to the slow tempo and 12/ 8 time sig­na­ture, the rhythms may be tricky to fol­low for read­ers who aren’t overly com­fort­able with stan­dard mu­sic no­ta­tion, so be sure to lis­ten closely to the au­dio.

Mick Tay­lor with John May­all’s Blues­break­ers

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