40 Years Ago: Mick Taylor Releases His First Solo Album
In June 1979, the world finally got to hear what Mick Taylor sounded like on his own. The release of his self-titled debut album came four years after willowy, stoic young blues prodigy left the Rolling Stones.
The period in between wasn't a complete hibernation for Taylor. First, he joined a band with Jack Bruce, drummer Bruce Gary and keyboardist Carla Blye, which focused more on a jazz-fusion sound. About a year after that, Taylor sat in with Little Feat at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1977, then played with a myriad of other artists through that year before finally signing a solo recording deal with Columbia.
The album, which mixed a grab bag of musical styles including blues, rock, jazz and even some Latin flavor, never quite took off commercially. It reached only No. 119 on the Billboard chart a couple of months after it was released, perhaps because Taylor opted not to promote the album with any kind of performances.
Taylor played guitar, piano, bass and even sang on the record. He was also joined by a host of all-star players including Lowell George. Critics, for the most part were impressed with the effort. One review read, “‘Mick Taylor’ is an undeniably attractive and often surprising album. The highlight and thrust of the album is Taylor's astounding guitar playing. His fusion of blues and rock styles and, of course, his slide work, is constantly impressive.”
Listen to Mick Taylor's 'Leather Jacket'
The album came and went quietly and in the next several years, Taylor found himself playing with everyone from Alvin Lee to John Mayall (whom he first started out with) to Mark Knopfler and Bob Dylan.
After that, Taylor laid low for several decades, touring occasionally and releasing several other solo albums. But this was the first official release that reminded the world what a monster talent the young bluesman was. Currently back on the road with the Rolling Stones, getting a chance to play on a least a couple of numbers each night, Taylor to this day remains an enigmatic yet profoundly talented guitar player who decided to quit the greatest rock 'n roll band in the world when they were arguably at the peak of their powers. But it never quite seemed to matter to Taylor, who was more concerned with his own personal artistry and expression than he was about being a Rolling Stone.