Hound Dog Taylor - 15 minute LIVE Ann Arbor 1973 Video
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Uploaded on Jun 4, 2011
Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers -
15 minute LIVE Ann Arbor 1973 Video
Hound Dog Taylor was born Theodore Roosevelt Taylor, named after the US President. He was born with six fingers on each hand. Growing up in the Mississippi Delta, his childhood was not an easy one. When he was only 9 years old, his step father supposedly packed up all of his things in a brown paper bag, stood in the doorway with a shotgun, and told Hound Dog to "cut out". That's the way the story goes anyway. From info I've gathered from people who knew him, this story may or may not be true. But he did go to live with his older sister around that time in his life.
The first instrument Taylor learned to play was not the guitar, but piano, which he learned as a kid. He first picked up the guitar while in his teens but didn't start to seriously play until he was around 21. At that time he started playing all over the Delta, not only playing guitar, but piano, too. He also appeared a few times on the legendary King Biscuit Flour radio show of KFFA in West Helena, Arkansas, with Sonny Boy Williamson. In 1942, Taylor, always the ladies man, was chased out of Mississippi one day by the Klan after having an affair with a white woman. He spent the first day hiding in drainage ditches and then the next day he headed for Chicago. He never went back. Although he continued to play his guitar semi-professionally at night, he spent the first 15 years in Chicago working several different non music jobs. In 1957 he was building TV cabinets when he decided to become a full-time bluesman. At this time he also changed his playing style. Where he once played standard and E tunings, he now was playing an increasingly more bottleneck style. This change came about by his being heavy influenced by the then emerging Elmore James.
Early on he garnered a huge local following with his wild live shows, most of the time he would be sitting on a folding chair, stomping both feet, throwing his head back in a frency, drinking Canadian Club and puffing on his cigarettes, urging the crowd to get up and dance, as he blared away on his guitar. Taylor became one of Chicago's most loved bluesmen and a local favorite on the South and West sides of town. It was during this time that he picked up the name "Hound Dog". He was in a club one night chasing a couple of women around when a friend called him a hound dog because he was always on the hunt for woman. The name stuck. It was also around this time when one night, a drunken Hound would, with a straight razor, cut off the small extra finger on his right hand.
Hound Dog's band, the HouseRockers, would come about slowly. In 1959 while playing in a West Side tavern, a guitarist named Brewer Phillips (also born in Mississippi) gigged with the Dog for the first time. The two became quick friends and Phillips would become the HouseRockers second guitarist.
Hound Dog was at the height of his success and was now starting to get better gigs, and his music continued to sell even more. But sometimes things just don't go the route planned and it seemed from out of nowhere trouble was brewing. Although Hound Dog and Phillips were closest of friends, they had gotten into numerous fights throughout the years. One day in May '75 while Phillips was visiting Hound Dog along with Son Seals at the Hound's apartment, a drunken fight broke out between Phillips and Hound Dog. It seemed Phillips said something insulting about Hound Dog's wife Fredda, so Hound Dog left the room, and then returned with a .22 rifle. Aiming for the couch, he hit Phillips twice, once in the forearm and once in the leg. Seals then took the gun away from Hound Dog. Luckily, Phillips would recover and be okay, but Hound Dog would not. Phillips pressed charges and Hound Dog was supposed to be tried for attempted murder. But the Dog, a heavy smoker, was sick, very sick. He was dying of lung cancer. Instead of facing a trial he landed in the hospital. On his deathbed, his last wish was granted when Phillips visited him in the hospital and forgave him for the shooting. Hound Dog Taylor passed away the very next day, December 17, 1975.
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