Over the past 25 years, Johnnie Taylor has been one of the most versatile and durable recording artists of the era. With a career that embraced gospel, pop, blues, R & B, doo-wop, Memphis soul, and even disco; Taylor has proven that he can conquer any form of music.
Johnnie Harrison Taylor was born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, and reared in nearby West Memphis. Inspired equally by both gospel and blues, Taylor first recorded in the early '50s as part of the Five Echoes. They were a doo-wop group that had one release on the Chance label in Chicago. However, Taylor did not receive any real recognition until he moved into the field of gospel, when he joined the Highway Q. C.'s on their recording of "Somewhere To Lay My Head".
When Johnnie Taylor would sing to audiences, people would tell him that his voice bared a strikingly resemblance to that of Sam Cooke. So in 1957, it came as no surprise that he took Sam's place in the group called The Soul Stirrers. With the group, Taylor made a number of fine recordings, but eventually left to pursue a shoSam Cooke soon formed the Sar label as a sideline to his own successful career. He sought out to get Taylor as one of his artists. Taylor agreed and with that recorded the hit "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" in 1962. But soon after, Sar's operations were suspended due to the untimely death of Sam Cooke.
Taylor soon landed with Stax Records in Memphis in 1967. With Stax, he scored with the recordings "I Had A Dream" and "I've Got To Love Somebody's Baby". Two years later, Taylor's style of music easily adapted to the demands of modern soul with his recording of "Who's Making Love", which shot to the top of the R & B charts. That record sold more than two million singles, and established TayloFor the next seven years, Johnnie's name never left the best-seller list. His first million seller was followed by such classics as "Take Care Of Your Homework", "Jody's Got Your Girl", and "Cheaper To Keep Her" to name a few.
With the demise of Stax, Taylor moved to the Columbia label, waxing the mega-hit, "Disco Lady", which was at the top of everyone's chart in 1975. But soon Johnnie left due to Columbia casting him as being a disco artist only. He made a brief stop at Beverly Glen Records in 1982, recording an album and climbing back into the charts with the single, "What About My Love". Taylor did not stay there long because he was looking for a label that would work close to him as Stax once had.
In 1984, Taylor had found that company when he signed with Malaco Records. His initial album, "This Is Your Night", was not only a well crafted piece of music, but saleswise, it was Johnnie's biggest record in nearly a decade. Johnnie had found a home in Malaco and has never looked back. He continues to release hit after hit which have propelled him into one of the top entertainers performing on the R & B circuit.
r as one of the nation's premier soul attractions.
rt career as a preacher.