Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Full Interview -- Rolling Stone Mick Taylor

Stone Alone

A Rare Interview with Mick Taylor by Tom Graves

originally published in Rock & Roll Disc magazine July, 1989

Mick Taylor initially came into the public spotlight as the very young (17 years old) replacement for the renowned Peter Green in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Although his early work reflected a preoccupation with the blues guitar style set forth by Eric Clapton during his legendary tenure with the Bluesbreakers, Taylor quickly matured into one of the most melodic, articulate, and technically accurate of players. He rapidly gained recognition for his fluid soloing, but became equally celebrated for his brilliant slide guitar style. Taylor did not become known to the mass rock audience, however, until 1969 when the Rolling Stones sent shock waves through their corps of fans by announcing Brian Jones' departure and replacement by the relatively unknown Mick Taylor. Only weeks later Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool and the Stones began a tour of America that ended in the murder and chaos of Altamont. In addition to Let It Bleed and Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out, Taylor was a crucial musical cog in the Stones' most influential middle-period albums, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street. He recorded two other albums with the Stones and unexpectedly called it quits, seemingly going into hiding. In 1979 he resurfaced with a self-titled solo album which sold poorly but was well-received by fans and critics. Reportedly sidelined by debilitating drug habits, he nevertheless toured and recorded with Bob Dylan, among others.

Mick Taylor is currently working with a new band that includes Jeff Beck alumnus Max Middleton, and a record deal with a major label is said to be forthcoming. According to several sources, including Taylor himself, he has kicked his drug habits and is playing better than ever.
Taylor has rarely granted interviews since leaving the Stones, certainly none that were in-depth. A naturally quiet and reflective man, Taylor was not the ideal interview since he rarely opened up at length. If one reads his carefully weighed answers closely, however, they frequently speak volumes.

R&RD: Did you have a musical upbringing? Were either of your parents gifted with an instrument?

Taylor: My mother had a younger brother who used to play guitar. That was kind of my inspiration and my starting point on the guitar, but my whole family liked music. I won't say they were overtly musical -- they didn't play instruments or anything other than my mother who played a bit of piano -- but I grew up in a house listening to music all the time.

R&RD: Were you too young to have been a part of the first wave of rock and roll in England, when Elvis, Bill Haley, and Buddy Holly had all become tremendously popular and influential?

Taylor: Well I suppose I would have been too young if my parents had not bought those records. They even took me to my first rock and roll concert when I was nine years old. They took me to see Bill Haley and the Comets in 1958, I think it was.

R&RD: When do you recall becoming seriously interested in music yourself?

Taylor: Well, when I started making a bit of progress on the guitar. I got together with some school friends and formed a band, which was when I was 13 or 14 years old.

R&RD: Would this have been during the time of the British Invasion?

Taylor: Yes, the Beatles were then becoming famous in England and all over the world.

R&RD: At this early age were you yet aware of the Rolling Stones?

Taylor: Oh yeah, of course. They were certainly an influence on me in the sense they were playing rhythm and blues as was John Mayall's Bluesbreakers who I listened to a little later on. I kind of got to discover American rhythm and blues -- black music -- and started listening to that when I was a teenager. That's when I started taking the guitar more seriously.

R&RD: What was your first guitar?

Taylor: It was called a Hofner President. It was like a semi-acoustic single cutaway with two pickups. I can't remember what kind of amp I started on.

R&RD: When you began to play the guitar was it rock and roll or rhythm and blues that first interested you?

Taylor: I was aware of and roll before I was aware of blues, but by the time I became aware of blues I was playing guitar so I became more interested in rhythm and blues.

R&RD: In reading about you I'm always struck by your youth when you got involved with John Mayall or for that matter the Rolling Stones. You were playing blues in your very early teens and that surprises me, because it was my impression that blues appealed to the older more collegiate musical sophisticate.

Taylor: No it wasn’t like that at all. I suppose it would seem that way, but it was people who were 15 and 16 years old. Certainly there were people older than myself, but I'm not the only one of that era who was aware of rhythm and blues music.

R&RD: Were you more influenced by the original American rhythm and blues or by the blues scene that was beginning to happen in England?

Taylor: I became aware of it all at the same time really. It was impossible to listen to the Rolling Stones playing Chuck Berry and not realize they were playing American rhythm and blues music, so one naturally wanted to hear the original, the real thing.

R&RD: Who were the blues players who most interested you?

Taylor: I used to listen to a lot of the Chicago blues artists such as Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, and Muddy Waters, a guy called Jimmie Rogers. One of the first blues albums I remember buying was a record called Live At the Regal by B.B. King. That had a big influence on me.

R&KD: What knocked you out the most about him, his singing or guitar playing?

Taylor: Both, but especially his guitar playing at that time.

R&RD: Did you listen to Albert King or Freddie King much at this time?

Taylor: Yes I was aware of both of those guys, or at least I was by the time I joined John Mayall because we used to play a lot of their songs in our show – we used to play "Oh, Pretty Woman" and "Crosscut Saw" and we did some Freddie King instrumentals. Those records were difficult to find in London, though. There were only a couple of places where you could buy rhythm and blues imports, so I found out where the shops were in London and I used to go there and buy them. They weren't widely available. You had to be quite dedicated and quite keen on that music to seek out those record shops where they stocked American imports.

R&RD: Did you order many direct from Chess records in the States like Mick Jagger did?

Taylor: No I just used to buy them at those specialty shops.

R&RD: When the music scene began to happen in earnest in England who did you first hear that made you decide then and there to get in a band? Taylor: I suppose something that was really interesting – apart from the Beatles, who I always liked and loved their music – would be Eric Clapton, who was the best blues guitar player around at the time that I had ever seen.

R&RD: Your first record was Blues Crusade with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers...

Taylor: Yes it was.

R&RD: Many critics believe that your playing at this time was very heavily influenced by Eric Clapton, that your guitar sound was patterned almost identically after his, and in a sense was derivative...

Taylor: But it was derivative. I had just turned 17 years old and hadn't been playing that long, so my blues playing at that time was very derivative. I was still very much a beginner. I wouldn't say I was more influenced by Eric Clapton than anybody else though, than any of the other blues guitarists that I had listened to, but it certainly was derivative. It took me four years of being on the road with John Mayall to really develop my own style.

R&RD: Of course you are celebrated now as much for your slide guitar as your lead guitar playing. Wasn’t this something of an extreme rarity in England in the early 60's?

Taylor: There weren't too many people who played slide guitar, no.

R&RD: How did you learn slide guitar? Was it from listening to Brian Jones in the Stones?

Taylor: No, he wasn’t really an influence though he played a bit of slide as did Keith Richards. I suppose the first slide guitar playing I heard was Muddy Waters.

R&RD: But slide guitar is considered to be such a difficult style, and it wasn't until you and Duane Allman popularized it that you saw that many people play it. Wasn't it difficult to pick up all the slide techniques on your own?

Taylor: Not necessarily. Not if you were brought up in a musical environment and you liked rhythm and blues and you knew lots of other musicians, then it doesnt seem so strange. But I know what you mean, because like I said before, that music wasn't widely accessible in England. So you had to really know a bit about it and know where to find the records...

R&RD: Who were some of these other musicians?

Taylor: Well there was Eric Clapton, there was Jeff Beck, there was myself, there were lots of other people really who played blues.

R&RD: But they weren't really known for slide playing then were they?

Taylor: Not then they weren't, no. Eric Clapton does now.

R&RD: You didn't play slide guitar on Blues Crusade at all. Was this because Mayall, who hyped his own slide playing, was considered the slide player of the group?

Taylor: No I dont think so. I think it was just the choice of material.

R&RD: Have you ever stopped to think that of all the guitar players around only you and Duane Allman and perhaps Johnny Winter are considered to have been equally articulate as slide players and as lead players?

Taylor: What about Ry Cooder?

R&RD: Yes, but his favor among critics and guitarists is weighted more towards him as a slide guitarist than a lead guitarist.

Taylor: Yeah, that's true. You're right. But no I really haven't thought much about that. I know I don't consider myself a sort of specialist slide player or anything. I have done a few sessions lately where I've played slide guitar, but I've played lead as well.

R&RD: When Eric Clapton was in the Bluesbreakers, he seems to have been celebrated throughout England. There was the "Clapton Is God" graffito and so on. Was he that highly regarded?

Taylor: Amongst musicians, yes he was. He was the best blues gultarist around.

R&RD: When did it dawn on you that you had those same kinds of virtuoso abilities?

Taylor: I suppose when I joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, or maybe even before that.

R&RD: Your schoolmates in your first band must have held you in awe.

Taylor: Wen no, all of them went on to become professional musicians themselves. There was a bass player who used to play with Jethro Tull named John Glascock, who died a few years ago, and his brother, the drummer, and he now lives and plays in Los Angeles. I think the other guitar player in this group went on into the music business for awhile too.

R&RD: How did you become a member of Mayall's Bluesbreakers?

Taylor: I was chosen as the result of a phone call. He called me up and said he needed a guitar player and that was because, a couple of years before that, I had been to see a show he was doing in a community center in a college type place in Wentgarden City which is near Hatfield. Eric Clapton didn't show up for the gig and I went backstage during the interval and asked if I could sit in with them and he said yes. He must have been quite impressed because he took my number and got in touch with me a couple of years later when Peter Green left.

R&RD: What was it like standing in for Clapton that first time?

Taylor: It was great! I knew most of the songs by heart...

R&RD: John Mayall was obviously the coach for three of the most important blues players to come out of England. You replaced Peter Green, who had become something of a legend in his own right, and he had a very different blues approach from you and Clapton. How would you characterize the differences in the styles of you, Clapton, and Green?

Taylor: I don’t think they are that different actually. I think there are more similarities than differences.

R&RD: Was Peter Green as big an influence on you as Clapton?

Taylor: I never knew Peter Green at all. He was very highly regarded of course, but he wasn’t really an influence on me, because as I said before we all listened to the same music. We all were influenced together at around the same time by the source of that music rather than each other. The only new guitar player who came along that really influenced everybody and influenced me too was Jimi Hendrix.

R&RD: What about Jeff Beck? He was doing many of the innovations most people credit to Hendrix before anyone.

Taylor: Yes that’s true. He’s always been one of my favorite guitar players.

R&RD: Describe what it was like working on your first album, Blues Crusade? Taylor: It was great and we did it all in seven hours! The whole record. It was like playing on stage – we just set the equipment up in the studio and it was “one-two-three-four here we go.” There were hardly any breaks between the numbers and, like I said, it was all recorded and mixed in seven hours.
R&RD: Why can’t they do it like that any more? Some groups now spend a year in the studio.

Taylor: I know. It would be much more simple wouldn’t it?

R&RD: In spite of the rush the engineering on those Bluesbreakers albums seems to be quite good.

Taylor: It had to be because everything was done so quickly. There wasn’t really any room for any mistakes. You just set up and the engineers got set up and they got good sound and you just did it.

R&RD: When you first went on the road with Mayall you were still at a very tender age. You were thrust into a spotlight few could handle following Clapton and Peter Green. How were you received by your audience at first.

Taylor: Not too big to start with. I was probably considered to be too young and not quite good enough. But that soon changed in a couple of years, especially when we started touring America.

R&RD: What kind of following did Mayall have in America at the time? Taylor: It was pretty much in England to start with, but we started to do some pretty big shows with people like Jimi Hendrix and Albert King, and we played at the Fillmore East and Fillmore West, we played everywhere really. We did very long tours. It was the beginning of John Mayall building up a big following in America too. A lot of people [in America] had heard of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers because I think by the time we toured America Cream was around as well, and people knew about Eric Clapton playing with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

R&RD: Bare Wires, your second album, marked quite a departure for the Bluesbreakers. We find your playing maturing quite a bit, you are playing slide here for the first time, and Mayall has changed the sound by adding a horn section…

Taylor: Yes, there was more of a rhythm and blues jazz influence on that one. He, like the rest of us, listened to jazz too, and he wanted to incorporate some of that into his music as well. R&RD: At this point were you featured playing more slide guitar in your live shows? Taylor: No, at that time it was still something that I played very rarely. It wasn’t until I got with the Rolling Stones that I started to play a lot of slide guitar.

R&RD: You did an instructional video with Arlen Roth a few years ago discussing some of your guitar techniques. I find it interesting that most slide guitarists use “open” bottleneck tunings of E, A, and G, yet you normally use the standard guitar tuning, which most people find far more difficult in playing slide.

Taylor: Well I do use the standard tuning, but I also use the open bottleneck tunings too. I believe Duane Allman used open tunings – most guitar players do. I think it is more interesting to play slide in the standard tuning and try to do what you can and switch from slide to regular lead guitar. You can’t do that in an open tuning. It’s much more versatile, because you’re not restricted to an open blues tuning. An “A” tuning more or less confines you to an Elmore James style and a “G” tuning more like a Delta blues kind of thing. I don’t consciously avoid it, but I do often play slide in a regular tuning unless it’s a sort of Mississippi Delta blues song, which requires an open tuning.

R&RD: What about a song like “Alabama” that was on your solo record?

Taylor: That’s in an open tuning, done in an open “E.”

R&RD: In the mid-60’s nearly every guitar player used a Gibson Les Paul exclusively. You used one, so did Clapton, Peter Green, and Jeff Beck. Now the trend seems to be towards Fenders. Robert Cray, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmy Vaughan, and Albert Collins all use Fenders.

Taylor: Well they are good guitars. The Fender turnaround comes from the Jimi Hendrix influence I think. I use a Fender Stratocaster nowadays with slightly different pickups and a Les Paul.

R&RD: Blues from a Laurel Canyon is considered by many to be a minor classic blues record. It features all-original writing from Mayall and some of your best and most versatile playing. What are your recollections of this album?

Taylor: It was a very popular album, I know that. It coincided with John Mayall’s move to America and that’s why all the lyrics are about Laurel Canyon and Sunset Boulevard and Los Angeles, California. It was about that period in his life when he decided he wanted to move to America. As far as my work with John Mayall I suppose this is my best work. I have to agree with you there.

R&RD: How do you feel about the two live albums you are on of Mayall’s?

Taylor: I thought they were o.k. The sound quality is not very good because of the method they used to record, which was a simple cassette machine-type thing with a condenser microphone in it on top of John Mayall’s Hammond organ, without even an ambience mike or anything like that. But of course they are an accurate representation of what was happening because they are sort of live historical tapes of what was going on at the time.

R&RD: Do you know if there is much unreleased Bluesbreakers material still lying around in the vaults somewhere?

Taylor: I don’t think there is too much, but there is some rather interesting live stuff that he has – I know that.

R&RD: Why did you leave John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers?

Taylor: Well, I wanted to leave for one thing. But John decided to change his format once again and decided to use just an acoustic guitar player, saxophone player, bass player, and no drummer. This was not what I wanted to do at all and we just sort of went our separate ways at the same time. But I did not know that the Rolling Stones had been looking for a guitar player for two or three months, and I suppose John Mayall must have mentioned to them that I was leaving him and I might be a good person to replace Brian Jones. So that’s kind of what happened.

R&RD: You were more or less asked to audition for the Stones weren’t you? You were invited to record for a few sessions so they could size you up, am I correct?

Taylor: Well, I went down to the studio and they were doing a couple of tracks for Let It Bleed, which I played on, and later on that night they asked me to join the band. It all happened in the same evening. I said, “Well, I’ll think about it for a couple of weeks.” (Laughs) I became a member of the band the next day. (Laughs again)

R&RD: Had you known Brian Jones and were you intimidated at all about having to step into his shoes?

Taylor: I didn’t know him at all, nor did I ever meet him before he died. On a musical level I wasn’t intimidated at all. I felt I was their equal as a musician…in fact I ended up feeling superior, but that’s another story.

As I’ve said before, they were just an R&B band until they began writing hit singles. So we all had the same roots -- I was a bit younger than them. I wouldn't say I was intimidated, but I was nervous for a while when I joined. Not so much because I was stepping into Brian Jones' shoes, but just because the whole experience of playing with a band that big was so different than playing with John Mayall.

But in some ways it might have been easier for me to do that first tour in 1969 than the rest of the band, because they hadn't toured America for several years. At least during that period they were off, I was on the road working the whole time. Once I got on stage with the Rolling Stones I came into my own.

R&RD: What was it like going from a respected ensemble like John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to the most infamous rock and roll band in the world?

Taylor: (In typical British understatement) Well it certainly was different. Like you said it was joining a legendary rock and roll band with a bunch of rock stars instead of a traditional blues band. But it all came down to the same thing. One thing that always impressed me about the Rolling Stones was how much they were into the blues and rhythm and blues. It was and probably still is their inspiration.

R&RD: On just a personal basis, what were those first few months like for you as a Rolling Stone?

Taylor: They were very hectic. We were rehearsing all the time, we did that Hyde Park concert, and then shortly after that we did a tour of America.

R&RD: Given that you were only about 20 years old at the time, weren't you sort of frightened by the Stones' circus-like atmosphere, high-powered accountants, and all that entourage mentality?

Taylor: No, I soon got used to it.

R&RD: Were any of them helping you along during your first year?

Taylor: How do you mean "helping me along"?

R&RD: Well, did they try to shelter you from some of the harsher aspects of being a Stone?

Taylor: (With a touch of bitterness in his voice) No, absolutely not! They didn't shelter me from nothing. They didn't "gimme shelter" at all. (Laughs)

R&RD: Musiclly this must have been a change for you, going from the blues purism of Mayall...

Taylor: It was an exciting change musically actually. I developed a lot as a musician and as a person and as a guitar player when I was with the Rolling Stones. I was with them for six years, during which time we toured the world and made five or six albums, which are now considered to be some of their finest. A lot of things happened. Six years is a long time -- at least it seemed like a long time then.

R&RD: In the Bluesbreakers you were probably the main visual attraction of the group. Mayall has said that kids came from all over and sat on the front rows to watch your fingers as you played. What was it like to go from being this kind of focal point to taking a back seat to Jagger and Keith Richards in concert?

Taylor: I think the thing with kids coming down to watch me play used to go on in the Rolling Stones too. I think I became sort of widely recognized as a good guitar player in my own right. Other people didn't just come for my guitar playing, obviously, but I think it was kind of like a highlight during that period. On-stage anyway.

R&RD: There was a concert movie that came out in the 70's called Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards entirely dominated this film and I bet there weren't 10 shots of you...

Taylor: But they didn't make the movie, it was whoever made the movie, that's the way they saw it. It didn't bother me at all. In fact it would have bothered me a lot more if they had been concentrating on me. Me, Bill Wyman, and Charlie Watts greatly appreciated the relative amount of privacy we had. We were glad all the attention was on Mick and Keith, and after all it would have been anyway because they were the Rolling Stones. They are the Rolling Stones, basically. They wrote all the songs, it was their band.

R&RD: What were the musical ingredients you feel you added to the Stones?

Taylor: Apart from my talent as a guitar player? I don't know, I mean Keith Richards and me, although we both had different kinds of styles complemented each other in a very natural instinctive way and made the group sound interesting and different sometimes.

R&RD: In the film Gimme Shelter, which documented the disastrous Altamont concert, we see a very frightened Mick Jagger who doesn't know what to do and a Keith Richards who is very angry and wants to continue to play. The Mick Taylor we see is someone who seems bemused and doesn't quite know what's going on. Am I right?

Taylor: No, I had an absolute awareness of what was going on. I think we all did. There was a certain point in the show where we said to each other "we had better keep on playing, otherwise this could get even worse." Of course it did get worse, but we all felt that to stop playing would have been even worse. There could have been a bigger riot and even more trouble.

R&RD: Were you guys scared out of your wits up there?

Taylor: Well, it wasn't one of my more memorable or enjoyable gigs (laughs). I think they would all say that -- we just had to get through it.

R&RD: What was your reaction when you found out someone had been murdered?

Taylor: It was very depressing -- you can just imagine.

R&RD: What was your relationship like with the other various Stones members?

Taylor: We were good friends, all of us were. I suppose Keith was who I hung out the most with.

R&RD: When you first joined the Rolling Stones you were a health food convert...

Taylor: (interrupts) No I wasn't, but that's what got reported, but it's not true.

R&RD: Everyone knows about Keith Richards' many problems, from his numerous drug busts to his very visible deterioration from heroin. It has been rumored that when you left the Stones you had a few of these kinds of problems yourself. Did you find it impossible to keep away from that whirlwind of vice that goes hand in hand with the Stones?

Taylor: Yes I did find it impossible. I went through similar things to Keith myself, but it didn't end when I left the Rolling Stones. It was part of my lifestyle too, I guess...

R&RD: Keith, it would appear, has gotten somewhat back on track. Is it true that you've been able to get some of your problems behind you?

Taylor: I have yes.

R&RD: The rumors I've heard are that addictions to alcohol, cocaine, and heroin are all part of your past problems. True?

Taylor: I will answer you by saying that, yes, they were a problem, but now they are not. I'm not going to illuminate on my personal life, not tonight. Maybe some other time. (Laughs an unnaturally long time.)

R&RD: Do you at all miss being a part of this huge thing that was the Stones?

Taylor: No, I don't really anymore. I did for a long time, but I don't anymore because I have my own band together and I'm touring around playing in clubs and playing in theatres. I just got back from a tour of Europe. I'm actually enjoying playing more than I ever have and I'm singing and playing really well.

R&RD: What about the social life of the Stones -- the Truman Capote, Lee Radziwill, Margaret Trudeau jet set climate -- were you at all a part of that?

Taylor: No, not really. Bianca used to be a good friend, but that had nothing to do with the social life of the Rolling Stones. I know what you're talking about but those people used to just come around for a few gigs on one tour, but there was no real social life as such or lasting friendships that were formed.

R&RD: Probably the two most important albums you worked on with the Stones were Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street. Sticky Fingers seemed to be a very well-planned record, almost calculated. Exile on the other hand is known and loved for its looseness, rawness, and haphazard feel. Would you care to comment on them?

Taylor: Well, they were both Rolling Stones records and they were both good. I don't see them that intellectually or anything, as one being more orchestrated and one being more raw. Exile On Main Street was done in a much rougher sort of way. We did it in a basement in Keith's house in the south of France and it took a long time. Lots of songs were made up as we were playing. I think Sticky Fingers was a bit more planned in the sense that most of the songs were together before we started recording.

R&RD: Following your tenure with the Stones, what did you do afterwards?

Taylor: Immediately after the Stones I played with Jack Bruce for about six months. We did a tour of Europe and did a bit of recording in England and hung out together a lot, but we didn't accomplish very much. We didn't stay together very long.

R&RD: There wasn't a record that came together was there?

Taylor: No there wasn't one. It was basically because we just didn't stay together long enough to make one.

R&RD: Musically, wasn't this quite a departure for you. Bruce was into a more avant garde jazz thing at this time wasn't he?

Taylor: We were playing his music, and his music is jazzy, bluesy, all kinds of things. It was a departure, yeah, but I didn't really think about it. It was just something to do.

R&RD: You did a solo album in 1979 on the Columbia label that received good notices but did not sell well. There has been some controversy about going far over budget, wasting an inordinate amount of time in the studio, and a lot of wasted musicians...

Taylor: There was no controversy. It happened just the way you say. I won't argue with your statement at all. It was a pretty good first attempt, I think, and I learned a lot from it. I'm hoping to do a new record very soon, actually, with my own band, which I'm looking forward to a lot. I've been playing with a band now on and off for about three years and I'm really ready to get back into the studio and do something. So it won't be a solo project in the same sense as the other one was. I got offered a great record deal by CBS in 1979 and they basically said, "do whatever you want, take as long as you want." And so of course I did. It's good to have deadlines and limits, especially when you don't exactly know what you are doing.

R&RD: In the interim period there have been no more albums, but you have played impressively on several other people's albums including Joan Jett, Joe Henry, and Bob Dylan. Has this been fulfilling to you.

Taylor: Very fulfilling, especially the one with Bob Dylan. That was great. It came about after he came to a show I was doing at a place called the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1982 with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, during the time we got back together for a couple of years, and I met him backstage and he asked me if I would be interested in recording with him when he ws ready to make an album. Of course when he was ready to make Infidels in New York I went to New York and was involved in that record. About a year later he went on the road in Europe and he asked me to put a band together. I enjoyed that.

I think I'm playing the best stuff I've ever played right now but I haven't got anything on record just yet. Max Middleton (the celebrated pianist on Jeff Beck's Rough and Ready and other albums) is someone I've known for a long time. We've done some good instrumentals together and various things we've written together that are good. When we first played together it was more of a fusion kind of thing, but over the years we've become more of an R&B band, with me singing a lot. I enjoy singing a lot now even though I didn't do it much in the past. It's a necessary part of what I want to do.

R&RD: Who are some of the younger guitar players who you find interesting.

Taylor: I can't think of anybody.

R&RD: Well, why don't I run down a few names? Stevie Ray Vaughan?

Taylor: He's o.k. I like him.

R&RD: What about Jimmy Vaughan?

Taylor: (With more enthusiasm) I like him a lot. I think he's a very tasteful blues guitar player. He's great. I like the Thunderbirds.

R&RD: How about Albert Collins?

Taylor: I heard him a long time ago when I was listening to my first blues records.

R&RD: Changing the subject here, I would like to ask the Million Dollar Question. Exactly why did you leave the Rolling Stones? There doesn't seem to be a definitive answer.

Taylor: That's really too complicated for me to go into right now. My reasons were many and varied and that's all I can say. They were mostly personal reasons, not musical reasons, no artistic differences or anything silly like that. I suppose I did have a musical vision I wanted to pursue, but it's taken me a long time to realize that. I had no clear cut vision when I left the Rolling Stones. It was mostly personal problems, my own mostly.

R&RD: I found it interesting that you were invited to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony with the other Stones to collect an award. How did that come about?

Taylor: Because I was included, that's why I was invited to the reception. I don't know whose idea it was, I don't know who the nominating committee are for that, but I suppose I was with the Rolling Stones long enough to have made a difference to what they did during that period. Everyone else was getting one so I was included too. It was fun but I didn't get a chance to speak to the guys.

R&RD: I suppose you know that the awards show has given rise to rumors that you will be rejoining the Stones?

Taylor: I've heard those rumors too, but I don't think there's any truth to them at all. I think they are busy making a record at the moment and they are hoping to get it down so they can go on and tour by the end of the year. I haven't been asked to play on the album or to go on tour, but if I were asked to play I'd play.

R&RD: Final question. How would you like to be remembered when all is said and done?

Taylor: Just as a good guitar player.


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