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The Blues: Hound Dog Taylor

Updated on December 21, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor

Taylor was born in Mississippi in 1915 or 1917, depending upon who you ask, in honor of the 26th President of the United States He became a full-time musician around 1957 (my Junior year in high school), but was unknown outside of the Chicago area, where he played in small clubs in the Black neighborhoods, and the Maxwell Street Market. He had that experience in common with many Chicago Blues legends, including Big Bill Broonzy, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Bo Diddley and Howlin' Wolf. It can fairly be said that Rock and Roll was born in the Maxwell Street Market. The last Blues performances on Maxwell Street occurred at the end of the 20th Century.

He was known for his skill with his electric bottleneck guitar; his style was roughly patterend after that of Elmore James, his cheap Japanese guitars, and raucous boogie beats. He was also famed among guitar players for having six fingers on his left hand.

"When I die people are gonna say 'he couldn't play s**t, but he sure made it sound good'!" (Attributed to Hound Dog Taylor)

Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers

Truth be told, Taylor wasn't the most accomplished guitar stylist, but he and the Houserockers did indeed make it sound good.

The production on their first record, "Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers," left a lot to be desired, with some tedious instrumental pieces, but it's still just plain fun

The guitar is raw, production is raw, and the singing's raw, but if you're looking for guitar ferocity and "down to earth" Blues, you'l find it on this album.

As one Amazon reviewer noted, "Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers prove that you do not need to be great musicans to be a great blues players."

In the end, it's soul that counts, and Taylor had that in abundance.

Wild About You, Baby - Hound Dog Taylor & Little Walter, 1967

Great Stuff on Amazon

Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers
Hound Dog Taylor & The Houserockers

Download Taylor's first album as MP3s

 

"I done more for you baby than the good Lord ever done, I put hair on your head he didn't give you none"

Give Me Back My Wig (Live)

Beware of the Dog!
Beware of the Dog!

Download the Album MP3s

 

"You take all my money and treat me like a child."

She's Gone - Hound dog Taylor And the Houserockers

Play it loud - it's raw, it's right and it's real.

"Hound Dog Taylor was among the most visceral and electrifying performers in the entire history of Chicago Blues. Hell, while we're at it let's expand that superlative statement to the Blues writ large. His scalding slide runs, sketched from protean Mississippi riffs in much the same manner as Elmore James, could set the sort of cheap amplifiers he preferred to crackling and even combusting. Here on this new trove of unreleased live and studio burners jagged porcupine patterns spill out from his six-fingered hands as they twist and peck at the strings of a tremolo-injected Teisco SS-4L guitar. Completing the package is the nasally braying bite of his pipes, often soaked in an inhibition-diminishing bourbon brine, shouting with the same raspy intensity of his frenzied fret work." (Courtesy Dusted Magazine)

Crank It Up!

Want a feel for the 70s? Crank up your speakers, crack open a beer and play this LOUD.

Who do ya love?

Grab some raw Blues - click here!
Grab some raw Blues - click here!

I know, I know...it's not fair, right? I agree...but it is what it is, go ahead, bend your head, and make your choice: Who's your all-time favorite electric Blues performer?

Who is your favorite electric Blues artist?

See results

Release the Hound contains a mix of material that is even more raw and primitive than previously released work!

Sitting At Home Alone - Hound Dog Taylor

As the first artist on Chicago's esteemed Alligator imprint (and the reason owner Bruce Iglauer started the company), wild-man slide guitarist Hound Dog Taylor has attained legendary status. His crude, propulsive sound even inspired the label's "Genuine Houserockin' Music" motto. Taylor left behind only two studio releases and a live disc when he died in 1975, but Iglauer has now unearthed more previously unreleased material. Recorded between 1971 and 1975, Release the Hound contains a mix of studio and live material that is every bit the equal of Taylor's existing catalog--and even more raw and primitive. The six-fingered six-stringer explodes through a volatile collection of boogie, blues, and good-time shuffles that makes Elmore James sound like Keb' Mo' in comparison. Hound Dog and his riotous bass-free backing duo of guitar and near-tribal drums were not technical perfectionists, but they could sure fire up a party thanks to Taylor's combustive mix of scorching slide playing and magnetic personality. --Hal Horowitz

" it's three o'clock in the morning, and my baby she ain't come home "

Held My Baby Last Night - Hound Dog Taylor

Lousy video, but after hearing the guitar, I didn't care - this is as raw and real as the Blues can get. The tune's from the prolific soul of Elmore James.

Held My Baby Last Night

Held My Baby Last Night
Held My Baby Last Night

Another winner from Taylor's first album (MP3)

 

Mama Talk To Your Daughter - Let's BOOGIE!

It Hurts Me Too

Which cut really turned you on?

Pick your favorite Hound Dog Taylor piece...

See results

You know I turn around and look at her, and I look down in her face; she said, "I'm your joy and your lawyer, I'm on your case"

Freddie's Blues - Rest in Peace, Hound Dog

Text with BIG Picture

Taylor died of lung cancer in 1975, and was buried in Alsip, Illinois. It is said that he was posthumously inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, but he is not listed on their website, so this cannot be confirmed.

If he hasn't, he certainly should be.

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