Classics: Johnnie Taylor – Disco Lady (Columbia)
In a vein somehow reminding of Lamont Dozier, Johnnie Taylor opening his debut-album – ‘Eargasm’ – for Columbia with ‘Disco Lady’ back in 1976. “Disco” but just in the title as this song is more of a Jazz/Funk gem. Featuring Bootsy Collins on bass and Bernie Worrell on drums. With arrangements courtesy David Van DePitte and production work by the likes of Don Davis.
Taylor pretty much scored his biggest commercial success with ‘Disco Lady’. The first single ever to be awarded with a platinum record Stateside for selling 2 million copies. Although one might more remember him for ‘What About My Love’ 5 years later. A track which Damaris covered soon after. But most likely The Shapeshifters sampled back in 2003 on the memorable ‘Lola’s Theme’…
Billed by Stax Records as “The Philosopher of Soul”, AK native Johnnie Taylor had an instantly recognizable voice. A voice that allowed him to express himself in many different genres. From Blues to Soul Gospel, Rhythm & Blues and Doo-Wop. When not Disco eventually.
Taylor first appeared in the mid-50’s as a member of The Highway QC’s. A Gospel group which he soon after left to replace Sam Cooke as the lead singer of The Soul Stirrers. He then started his solo career by the beginning of the 60’s, first on Sam Cook‘s label SAR Records prior to be signing a record deal with Stax.
On the heels of the label bankrupcy, he then signed with Columbia Records, scoring his biggest hit back in 1976 with ‘Disco Lady’. A track which happened to be the first single ever to be awarded with a platinum record Stateside for selling 2 million copies…
One also remembers him for the seminal ‘What About My Love’. A track which saw the light in 1981, with strings arrangements courtesy of Gene Page. Damaris (Carbaugh) eventually covered it 2 years later. Meanwhile UK outfit The Shapeshifters sampled it back in 2003 on their memorable ‘Lola’s Theme’.
Taylor who counts 31 album releases to his credit, also made some noise as a radio personality. Makin’ his niche in the 80’s as a DJ on KKDA-AM, a radio station in the Dallas area. Playin’ mostly R&B and Soul oldies, he got be billed “The Wailer, Johnnie Taylor”.
Johnnie Taylor sadly died of a heart attack at Charlton Methodist Hospital in Dallas, TX, on May 31, 2000. He was 66.