Thursday, June 4, 2009

In Memoriam: Koko Taylor and Laddie Hutcherson

Posted By on Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 5:34 PM

While the bizarre circumstances surrounding David Carradine's death trump all other celebrity deaths this week, us Memphians have our own mourning to do:

6981/1244148895-koko_taylor_1417247c.jpgYesterday, 80-year old blues great Koko Taylor died in Chicago, less than a month after she appeared at the Blues Music Awards here in Memphis to collect her 29th BMA and perform her signature, million-selling hit single, "Wang Dang Doodle."

Born the daughter of a Shelby County sharecropper, Cora "Koko" Walton departed Memphis for Chicago in 1952 with her future husband, Robert "Pops" Taylor, in tow, and never looked back. By the mid-1960s, Taylor, an amateur performer who supported her family by cleaning houses, had ensconced herself in the Chess Records family — Willie Dixon was her producer, Buddy Guy served as her guitarist, and "Wang Dang Doodle" was mined from Howlin' Wolf's catalog. In more recent years, Taylor became one of the benchmark artists on the Chicago-based Alligator Records. Eight of her last 9 recordings, including 2007's Old School, received Grammy nods. In 2004, Taylor received the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and, earlier this year, she performed at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Go here for a detailed obituary.

And according to the Batesville, Ark. daily newspaper, Laddie Hutcherson has died.

As one of the founding members of the Guilloteens, a Memphis garage rock trio that ruled the local scene from 1964-1968, Hutcherson appeared on Shindig and American Bandstand, palled around with Elvis and the Byrds, worked with with Phil Spector and Jack Nitzsche, and, as unlikely as it might sound, inked a deal with cartoon team Hanna-Barbera's record label.

Hutcherson even celebrated his 20th birthday with the Righteous Brothers, as this in-depth history reports. Post-Guilloteens, Hutcherson rocked the Tampa, Florida, music scene, as documented in this obituary from the St. Petersburg Times.

For more on Memphis' 1960s-era garage rock scene, check out Ron Hall's Playing For A Piece of the Door and Memphis Garage Rock Yearbook 1960-1975, both published by Shangri-La Projects.

Here's Hutcherson fronting the Guilloteens on Shivaree, circa 1965:

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