“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Benoit in Bolivar County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)

Eddie Taylor

Eddie Taylor Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, July 25, 2020
1. Eddie Taylor Marker (Front)
Inscription.  (Front)
Benoit native Eddie Taylor, an architect of the post-World War II Chicago blues genre, was renowned for his work both as a bandleader and accompanist. He was best known for shaping the distinctive sound of Jimmy Reed, a childhood friend with whom Taylor reunited in Chicago. The Benoit area was also the birthplace of James DeShay, a mainstay of the St. Louis blues scene; James “Peck” Curtis, famed for his work on “King Biscuit Time” radio; and southern soul star Nathaniel Kimble.

Eddie Taylor (January 29, 1923 - December 25, 1985) is revered as one of the most influential guitarists in Chicago blues history, known for his versatility, impeccable timing, and consummate musicianship. As a child Taylor was influenced by Delta bluesmen Charley Patton, Son House, Big Joe Williams, and Robert Johnson, but learned to play guitar from a musician named “Popcorn.” Taylor performed in local jukes around Leland and Clarksdale and taught guitar to Jimmy Reed in nearby Meltonia. In the 1940s he moved to Memphis and then to Chicago, where he helped pioneer the city’s
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new electric blues style.

During the 1950s and ‘60s Taylor and Reed collaborated over dozens of sessions to create many of Reed's hits for Vee-Jay Records, including “You Don’t Have to Go,” “Baby What You Want Me to Do,” “Honest I Do,” and “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby.” Taylor also recorded “Bad Boy,” “Bigtown Playboy,” and other singles for Vee-Jay as a solo artist, followed by albums for a number of different companies. Always in demand for studio sessions and nightclub dates, Taylor recorded and performed with John Lee Hooker, Elmore James and his Broomdusters, Carey Bell, Sunnyland Slim, Homesick James, Big Walter Horton, Johnny Littlejohn, Snooky Pryor, Floyd Jones, and the Aces, among many others. He began to tour internationally in the late ‘60s and remained active in music until his death. Although never as well known to the public as many of his comrades in the blues, Taylor was rated so highly by critics, historians, and musicians that he was elected to the Blues Hall of Fame in 1987.

Taylor’s wife was blues vocalist Vera Taylor (1943-1999), a native of Dublin, Mississippi, and the niece of bluesmen Eddie, Jimmy, and Willie Burns. She often appeared on stage with her husband. Their children, Eddie, Jr., Larry, Milton, Tim, Demetria, Brenda, and Edna, all became singers or musicians,
Eddie Taylor Marker (Back) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, July 25, 2020
2. Eddie Taylor Marker (Back)
and Vera, Eddie, Jr., and Larry Taylor also recorded CDs of their own.

Benoit has been home to several other performers of note, including Nathaniel Kimble, James “Peck” Curtis, James DeShay, and Jessie Clay. Music from Benoit was also featured in the 1956 movie Baby Doll, which was filmed at the antebellum Burrus house and other local sites. In the film, a harmonica player sings the blues classic "Baby Please Don't Go" and a woman at a cafe sings the traditional spiritual "I Shall Not Be Moved." The cast credits in the film acknowledged the singers and most of the other local extras simply as “Some People of Benoit, Mississippi."

Left, Eddie Taylor in session at Ter-Mar Recording Studios, Chicago, March 10, 1975.

Right, Taylor performing with fellow transplanted Mississippians Big John Wrencher (harmonica) and Kansas City Red (drums) at King’s Club Waveland in Chicago, August 10, 1974.

Eddie Taylor and Jimmy Reed

Guitarists James DeShay (left, 1918-1988) and his brothers Rufus and Dennis spent their early years around Benoit and Pace. James became a fixture on the St. Louis scene as a performer, beginning in the 1950s, and also as a nightclub owner in later years.

Drummer James “Peck” Curtis (1912-1970) anchored the historic “King Biscuit Time”
Eddie Taylor Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, July 25, 2020
3. Eddie Taylor Marker
radio program in Helena, Arkansas, from 1942 through the 1960s, working alongside Sonny Boy Williamson and a parade of other “King Biscuit Entertainers,” as advertised on his bass drum in this 1965 photo with Williamson.

Nathaniel Kimble, a popular performer on the soul-blues circuit famed for his 1999 hit “Bagg It Up”, was born in Scott in 1964 and moved to Benoit as a child He is shown here at the 2009 Sunflower River Blues Festival in Clarksdale.

Benoit singer and songwriter Jessie Clay recorded the original version of the Tyrone Davis hit, “Mom’s Apple Pie”, and also played drums in Muddy Waters’ blues band in Chicago.
Erected 2010 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 101.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical date for this entry is March 10, 1975.
Location. 33° 39.079′ N, 91° 0.563′ W. Marker is in Benoit, Mississippi, in Bolivar County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (State Highway 1) and Preston Street (State Highway 448), on the right when traveling north on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Benoit MS 38725, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other
Eddie Taylor image. Click for full size.
4. Eddie Taylor
markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Eddie Shaw (a few steps from this marker); William Fisher Johnson (approx. 3.7 miles away); Mississippi River Blues: The 1927 Flood (approx. 5˝ miles away); Christmas Mound (approx. 8.3 miles away); Lockheed T-33A (approx. 11.8 miles away); History of the 51-6601 (approx. 11.8 miles away); Winterville Mounds (approx. 11.8 miles away); Symbols Tell Stories (approx. 11.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Benoit.
Also see . . .  Eddie Taylor. Wikipedia (Submitted on August 15, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 15, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 323 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 15, 2020, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 4, 2024