Michael Kevin "Mick" Taylor (born January 17, 1949) is a British musician best known for his stints with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers from 1967 to 1969 and as The Rolling Stones' lead guitarist from 1969 to 1974. Taylor is generally considered the strongest guitarist in the band's history, a live virtuoso with a melodic style fitting easily into the Genre Roulette of the Stones albums from his era.
According to legend, Taylor made his name as a teenage fill-in for Eric Clapton but was too shy to approach band leader John Mayall for the full-time job. Eventually replacing Peter Green for good in 1967 (Green went on to form Fleetwood Mac with fellow Bluesbreakers Mick Fleetwood and John McVie note ), Taylor played in the Bluesbreakers for several years, participating in several albums before parting ways with Mayall to join The Rolling Stones. Replacing Stones founder Brian Jones, he joined in time to participate in two songs ("Country Honk" and "Live With Me") from Let It Bleed and the Hyde Park concert following the untimely death of Jones.
After several years in the band, personal problems with Keith Richards, Taylor's own heroin addiction, and allegations that Mick Jagger refused Taylor his rightful publishing rights drove a stake between Taylor and Jagger/Richards, but his 1974 departure to Jack Bruce's band still came as a shock to all involved. Taylor has since said that he primarily left the Stones because he wanted to kick his drug habit and to protect his family from the drug culture surrounding the Stones at the time. He nonetheless seems to be on good terms with the Stones, as he has worked with them (and with individual members of the band) several times since he left, most notably on each show of their 50 & Counting Tour in 2012-2013. (Richards has returned the favour for at least one of Taylor's concerts.) Taylor was replaced by Ronnie Wood of The Jeff Beck Group and Faces, who remains a Stones member to this day.
Taylor has continued to tour and very occasionally maintains a solo career. He has continued mainly as a session guitarist, with his most famous moment in that position Dramarama's 1991 hit "Classic Rot".
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1979 - Mick Taylor
- 1990 - Stranger in This Town
- 1991 - Too Hot for Snakes note
- 1995 - Arthur's Club-Geneve 1995 note
- 1995 - Coastin' Home
- 2000 - A Stone's Throw
- 2003 - 14 Below
Tropes associated with Mick Taylor:
- Boring, but Practical: Taylor is a beloved guitar hero from a legendary rock band despite a near total absence of stage presence. Audiences at a Stones concert were often privileged with a great view of the top of his head.
- Call-Back: "Stranger In Town" references "Lovin Cup" during its chorus.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Famously derided as "a great guitarist who found out the hard way that that's all he is", a relative lack of song-writing skill has marred his solo career to some extent.
- Improv: Taylor's improvisational skill sets him apart particularly from Brian Jones and Ronnie Wood as a live performer. Though the former was not without improvising talent either, being incredibly famous to this day for his ability to pick up virtually any instrument and start improvising on it.
- A particularly famous example: The song "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" from Sticky Fingers was originally intended to be about three minutes long, but when they reached what was intended to be the song's fadeout on the take used for the album, Taylor, in his own words, "just felt like carrying on playing" as other band members were setting their instruments down. However, they heard Taylor continue to play and liked what he was playing, so they picked their instruments back up and the entire band improvised what became the song's second half right on the spot, not aware that the tape was even still rolling. When they realised the whole thing was caught on tape, they decided to Throw It In and wound up with a seven-minute epic that is now regarded as one of the highlights of the album.
- Irony: Taylor's most famous latter-day solo comes from a song decrying classic rockers. The song ends with the main band asking if he can please, please play on another one. (He does).
- In Name Only: Mick merely plays a backing role on Shadow Man (hence the title), but Executive Meddling put his name above that of singer Sasha Gracinin.
- Instrumentals: His first song-writing credit, "Snowy Wood", is an instrumental with the Bluesbreakers.
- Progressive Rock: Not considered his strength (Taylor is almost purely a Blues Rock player), but he held his own on Mayall's jazz-rock album and in the Jack Bruce band.
- The Quiet One: Notoriously shy, the inevitable comparisons to Jagger and Richards just amplify it.
- Self-Titled Album: His solo debut from 1979.
- Special Guest: Aside from his cameo appearances on recent Stones tours, Taylor has popped up in some odd places over the years. He appeared as third guitarist on a Guns N' Roses tribute band's original album, for instance.
- Spotlight-Stealing Title: The 2012 reissues of Carla Olson's The Ring Of Truth are credited to "Carla Olson & Mick Taylor". Nearly justified given how much soloing space he actually gets on the record.
- The Stoic: Famous for being this during his time with the Stones, along with Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts (though the former is the Stone most associated with this trope).
- Teen Genius: As a sixteen year old, Mick was considered to be on relatively close footing with prime Eric Clapton as a guitarist.