Tomorrow is Mick Taylor’s 66th birthday! Mick Taylor played guitar with the Rolling Stones from 1969-1974. In honor of his birthday, here is an excerpt from Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost:
ENTER MICK TAYLOR
“Honky Tonk Women,” “Country Honk,” and “Live With Me” were recorded between May 12 and June 12, with the emphasis put on the completion of “Honky Tonk Women” as an immediate single release. During the May 31 session, both “Honky Tonk Women” and “Live With Me” were being worked on when ex-John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers’ guitarist Mick Taylor was brought in for a dry run on Mick Jagger’s invitation. By the end of the session, it had been decided that Taylor would be Brian’s [Jones] replacement. Asked why he was chosen, Taylor recalled: “I think probably because John Mayall recommended me. They’d known John Mayall since the early days, and they were both blues bands when they started out. But Ian Stewart recommended me as well, and that’s how it came about. It came about very quickly. I’d been in LA with John Mayall, and towards the end of the tour, he announced he was going to change his band and use a different lineup without a drummer. He was going to have an acoustic guitar player, a saxophone player, and it was all going to be a little bit experimental, so that particular band split up, and I got back to London, and, after a couple of days, I was thinking about forming my own band, but I got this phone call, from John Mayall actually at first, saying he thought the Stones were interested [in] me possibly doing some session work. So, I went down to Olympic Studios, played with them one night, and we hit it off almost instantly, and they asked me to join. And that was it.”
Michael Kevin Taylor, born on January 17, 1949 was a fourteen-year-old schoolboy in Hatfield, twenty miles north of London, when the Stones’ first single, “Come On,” was released in 1963. Taylor started listening to records and playing guitar steadily at an early age, and, with the exception of a few chords his uncle showed him, was self-taught. “I was about ten years old [when I started],” he recalled. “My uncle was in the army, stationed in Germany. There were lots of American bases there; there still are. I think he got his interest in music from listening to American music there, R&B and blues, things like that. He brought back a guitar with him. That was where my interest in the guitar started.” He continued, “As my interest in the guitar developed, my interest in blues music in general developed. By the time I was fourteen or fifteen, I was into the blues, and I was buying blues records, as many as I could get ahold of.” In 1964, Taylor joined his first band the Juniors, who ultimately evolved into the Gods and included Greg Lake (later of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) and Ken Hensley (later of Uriah Heep). The Gods’ potential went unrealized, however, as Taylor explained: “Nothing happened. We didn’t make any records, didn’t have any management, and didn’t do any gigs.” When he was sixteen, Taylor happened to jam with John Mayall at a Bluesbreakers’ gig, sitting in for Eric Clapton, and, a little more than a year later, Mayall asked him to join his band, replacing Peter Green (Clapton’s replacement), who’d left with Mick Fleetwood and John McVie to form his own band, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Taylor commented, “One minute I was playing with local musicians in Hatfield, and the next minute touring America with Mayall” During his two years with the Bluesbreakers, Taylor appeared on Crusade, Bare Wires, Blues From Laurel Canyon, and both Diary of a Band albums.
After the Let It Bleed album was released, Keith explained the evolution of “Honky Tonk Women” this way: “Last Christmas, Mick and I flew out to Brazil and stayed on a ranch. It was just like Arizona, and, somehow, we got into cowboy songs. I wrote ‘Honky Tonk Women’ then, and it was a sort of Hank Williams tune. Back in London, we worked on it – trying to make it sound funkier with my guitar – and eventually we got the sound that was the single. It just knocked us out . . . we thought, ‘Wow, that has to be a single.’ But I never thought it would work the way it did. It was a bit like ‘Satisfaction’ in that it transcended all tastes. Some of our records are more for America, some are more suited for England, but ‘Honky Tonk Women’ was for everyone. Actually, you can hear the complete, Hank Williams-like version of the song [‘Country Honk’] on the Let It Bleed album.” He elaborated: “That was how it was originally written. All I had was a little guitar I bought off some guy in Rio. A beautiful little Dobro thing. And we were on the veranda and there were gauchos. We were in deep country. And that was the way it was written. The next day we polished it up.”
Taylor picked up the story: “Well, I definitely added something to ‘Honky Tonk Women,’ but it was more or less complete by the time I arrived and did my overdubs. They had already laid down the backing track, but it was very rough and incomplete. I added some guitars to it. But I didn’t play the riffs that start ‘Honky Tonk Women’; that’s Keith playing. I played the country kind of influence and the rock licks between the verses. My part on ‘Country Honk’ wasn’t on a regular guitar; it was one of those cheap little Selmer Hawaiian guitars, which I played on my lap.” Taylor owned and used the Selmer lap-steel during his stay with John Mayall, explaining, “I found that guitar in London for about $40. I wish I still had it; I used that guitar in regular tuning.”
Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost.
And to wrap up this amazing contest, we present this gorgeous D18 Martin acoustic! The contest ends this Friday, so if you haven’t entered yet now is your chance. Don’t pass up this opportunity to win the brands of the Rolling Stones!
Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. If nothing else, enter to win a set of gorgeous Gretsch drums just like Charlie used to love! Read below for an excerpt about the kit from Rolling Stones Gear.
Charlie used his 1950s maple Gretsch kit and included an Italian UFIP 18-inch Chinese cymbal. Later, when UFIP was German-owned, Richard King (who supplied Charlie with a lot of his gear) remarked: “[Charlie] did accept an endorsement from an Italian cymbal company UFIP. He likes their 18-inch China crash cymbal, and when the new German owner sent Charlie sixty to try out, only two were up to his standards.” Charlie later revealed: “I play a UFIP cymbal. I play it the Chinese way, with the edges up. I like them because they’re very trashy. They do tend to crack, and I can only drill them so much before they lose the sound and go dead. I’ve kept them all though, for thirty years.” Charlie, not a man of many changes, shed further light on his cymbals, a setup that has remained steady throughout the years: “John DeChristopher at Zildjian is always sending me cymbals. He’s a lovely guy, but I never use them right away! I choose the ones I like, put them away, and let them marinate. For me, finding a cymbal is about going into a second-hand shop and digging. I prefer one of Shelly Manne’s old cymbals to ten new ones. Even a guy in a dance band or a club; HIS cymbals get a sound and a look about them. I don’t like new drums either, and I HATE new shoes.” He continued: “I like things that are well made, like Zildjians, but that are fifty years old. I use an old 18-inch flat ride, and I’m scared stiff it’s going to go. They’ve sent me new ones, but they’re never as good. I found it in Paris in ’70- something with Chuch Magee. We were bombed out of our ’eads at the time, but I’ve never stopped using it. I’ve used it in a piano trio, and I’ve used it behind Keith, and it’s fabulous. It’s a beautiful cymbal to record with.” Concerning Charlie’s stage sound, Benji Lefevre, the front-of-the-house soundman/sound engineer for the tour, commented: “Charlie tunes it his way, and it just produces the Charlie Watts sound, so I don’t mess with it. He does, however, have a very light jazzy bass drum technique, which enables me to use delicate high quality microphones on it.”
Guitar Player and Rolling Stones Gear have teamed up to give you a chance to Win the Brands of the Rolling Stones! Now you can own some of the major brands of equipment the Rolling Stones played including Fender, Martin, Framus, Zemaitis, Gretsch, and Vox in this exciting new sweepstakes! They are also giving away the new book Rolling Stones Gear: All the Stones’ Instruments from Stage to Studio by Andy Babiuk and Greg Prevost. Check out this vintage ’52 Fender Telecaster that YOU could own!
Keith mainly used his collection of five-string Teles, but also had on hand his 999 blond ’59 Tele (strung as a six-string), the single-cutaway ’57 sunburst Les Paul Junior, a single-cutaway Les Paul TV Junior, a single-cutaway Les Paul TV Special, the ’58 Mary Kaye Strat, a custom-made all-black Tele- style guitar with black P-90 pickups, a transparent black Tele-style Cobra by Tom Anderson, a reissue ’59 sunburst Gibson Les Paul, his acoustic Gibson L-1, an Ovation Adamas acoustic six-string, and a number of Martins. As on previous tours, Keith’s tunings and capo positions remained the same on all the constant numbers in the set. Another Fender Tele that was added to Keith’s five-string Tele collection was a 1952 butterscotch example with a black pickguard, which Keith nicknamed “George.” Unlike Micawber, Malcolm, and Sonny, whose neck pickups were replaced with humbuckers, George’s traditional Tele neck pickup was left alone. The guitar’s original bridge was replaced with an aftermarket bridge, and it was set up as a five string. The George Tele has become one of Keith’s go-to guitars for both stage and studio. Keith’s legendary guitars and their names hold a mystique of their own. Pierre explained: “I laugh when people tell me they spell Sonny with a ‘u’. It’s ‘Sonny’ because it’s named after Sonny Rollins, and Sonny Rollins is not spelled with a ‘u’, but I don’t sit there and tell everyone that. When I met Keith, he literally called all his Teles by their first names—Malcolm, Micawber, Sonny.” Pierre continued, revealing yet another new addition to Keith’s collection, “Gloria is a five-string 1954 Esquire that is totally beat up. It was a ‘parts’ guitar, a total beater with an Anderson pickup in the neck, and the reason for that is the low magnetic pull.”