Koko Taylor was born Cora Walton on September 28, 1928, in Barlett, Tennessee. She was born into a sharecropping family. Her love for chocolate as a little girl earned her the nickname KoKo. She was exposed to music at an early age. She grew up listening to gospel music, as well as the blues.
By the age of 11, Walton was orphaned. She picked cotton for a living and did not receive much of a formal education. Eventually, she moved to Memphis where she worked as a domestic. While living in Memphis, she met her future husband, Robert “Paps” Taylor. When they got married, Walton adopted Taylor as her last name. The couple then moved to Chicago
Once the Taylors moved to Chicago, KoKo began cleaning houses there as well. However, she became engrossed with Chicago’s blues scene. She began performing with many of the local bands in various nightclubs under the name Koko Taylor.
In 1962, Taylor was discovered by the famous composer, Willie Dixon. He arranged to have her signed to Chess Records in no time. While recording for Chess, Talyor recorded her most famous tune, Wang Dang Doodle, in 1965. In 1967, she performed as part of the American Folk Blues Festival in Europe which amassed her international appeal.
In 1969, Chess Records began failing. That same year, Taylor’s contract was terminated. As a result, she was forced to return to domestic work in order to make ends meet. By 1975, however, she signed with Alligator Records. While signed to the label, she recorded a total of nine albums between 1978 and 2007. Eight of those albums resulted in Grammy nominations.
Taylor is one of the most decorated blues musicians in history. She received the Legend of the Year Award in 1993. That same year, March 3rd was declared ‘KoKo Taylor Day’ in Chicago. She was inducted into the Blues Foundation’s Hall of Fame in 1997. In 1999, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Blues Foundation.
In her lifetime, Taylor had performed with such greats, like B. B. King and Muddy Waters. And because of her contribution to music, she was hailed as the ‘Queen of Chicago Blues.’ KoKo Taylor died June 3, 2009, at her home in Chicago. She was 80 years old.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**]]>