Wanted One Soul Singer - Johnnie Taylor

Johnnie Harrison Taylor was born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, USA in 1934.

As an adult, he had one release, Somewhere to Lay My Head, issued on Chicago's Vee Jay Records label. In the 1950s, he was a member of the gospel group Highway QCs, which included a young Sam Cooke. Johnnie Taylor's singing then was strikingly close to that of Sam Cooke, and he was hired to take Cooke's place in theƂ  gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, in 1957 when Cooke left. A few years later, after Cooke had established his independent SAR Records, Taylor signed on as one of the label's first acts and recorded Rome Wasn't Built In A Day in 1962. However, SAR Records closed down after Sam Cooke's death in 1964. Johnnie Taylor had three singles issued on SAR. He then moved onto the Derby record label in Los Angeles. Dance What You Wanna was his first single of three issued on the label.

In 1969 Dave Godin issued an LP on his UK Soul City record label The Roots Of Johnnie Taylor, which included his early singles from SAR and Derby records.

In 1966, Johnnie Taylor moved to Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee. His first recording I Had A Dream hit the R&B chart. It was backed by the dance track Changes, which went on to become a Northern soul favorite. In all he had eight 45's released on Blue Stax's. Including Ain't That Lovin You (For More Reasons Than One) in 1967. The same year his first LP Wanted One Soul Singer was issued. Twelve tracks from his singles with Stax, apart from one Blues In The Night. A midtempo popular blues song from around 1940 used in a film of the same name. Atlantic issued an EP of four tracks, only in France titled Blues In The Night. Tracks were, Blues In The Night, Outside Love, Toe Hold and I Had A Dream.

In 1968 Stax Records had a new owner a new logo and a new yellow label. Johnnie Taylor was to have his first major hit with Who's Making Love in September 1968 reaching No 1 in the R&B Chart. He also had No1's with Jody's Got Your Girl and Gone 1970 I Believe in You (You Believe in Me) 1973, sold in excess of one million copies, and was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in October 1973. He recorded several albums he was dubbed The Philosopher of Soul. He had many other minor hits and continued to record (over 30 singles) until 1975 when the label closed.

Johnnie Taylor moved to Columbia Records, where he recorded his biggest success with the producer Don Davis, Disco Lady, in 1976. It spent four weeks at No 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Johnnie Taylor recorded several more successful albums and R&B single hits with Davis at Columbia Records until 1982.

Johnnie Taylor had a short stay at a small independent label, Beverly Glen Records in Los Angeles. What About My Love was his first single released in 1982, five more records were to follow. 

His final record label was Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1984 Tommy Couch invited Taylor to become Malaco’s new flagship artist. He went on to record ten albums for the label in the next 16 years.  In 1996, Johnnie Taylor's eighth album for Malaco, Good Love!, reached number one on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart.


Johnnie Taylor was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1999. Taylor was also a three-time Grammy Award nominee.

Johnnie Harrison Taylor died of a heart attack at Charlton Methodist Hospital in Dallas, Texas, on May 31, 2000, he was 66 years old.