NOTE: This show was canceled at press time. At the age of 17, Mick Taylor became a member of the legendary Bluesbreakers, following in the footsteps of heavy predecessors Peter Green and another guitarist often referred to at that time as “God,” Eric Clapton. In 1969, after the Stones sacked Brian Jones, the band hired Taylor as his replacement. Taylor’s first big outing with his new employers, a free concert, became a memorial for Jones when the ex-Stone was found dead in his swimming pool.
But the thing that has dogged Taylor over the years is this: Why did he quit the Stones? I wanted to ask this very question, which may be the reason his publicist never returned my calls. The best we rock press can do is to pester the man about what happened back in December 1974. Reasons for the split vary, but there are rumors that Jagger and Richards scammed Taylor out of royalties. Last year, Taylor, now 62, told Mail Online that he hadn’t seen one penny from the Stones since 1982.
1969 through 1974 were salad years for the Stones, and they would never again sound so good. “If I could magically create a situation,” writes former Spin critic Chuck Klosterman, “where the Rolling Stones had recorded ten studio albums with Mick Taylor instead of five, I would create this situation immediately.”
Taylor’s nasty blues was in bombastic contrast to Keith Richards’s drugged flogging. The Taylor era’s shining hour, Exile on Main Street, has been called by many one of the greatest rock records of all time. The lesson of Mick Taylor is this: never outperform your boss. Post Stones? Taylor, if broke, has lived the quiet life of a bluesman, which is all he wanted to be.
David Knopfler also performs.
MICK TAYLOR: Brick by Brick, Sunday, May 16. 619-275-5483. $25. CANCELED.