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Hound Dog Taylor
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Hound Dog Taylors Playlist

1 55th Street Boogie
2 Crossroads
3 It Hurts Me Too
4 Look On Yonders Wall
5 See Me In The Evening
6 Wild About You Baby


Until he recorded his first album (and Alligator's first album), Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers in 1971, Theodore Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor, was largely unknown outside of Chicago. His searing slide guitar style recalled Elmore James, but Taylor was his own man. His band--second guitarist Brewer Phillips and drummer Ted Harvey--were kicking out the blues jams all over town, including a regular Sunday night gig at Florence's on Chicago's South Side. It was at one of these gigs where a young blues fan named Bruce Iglauer decided to risk some inheritance money and start a blues record label for the sole purpose of recording Hound Dog Taylor and the HouseRockers.

Without a drop of slickness, Taylor's electrified was upbeat, rocking, and rhythmic. His guitar playing was raw, intense and coarse. Village Voice music critic Robert Christgau referred to the band as "the Ramones of the blues," and it's easy to see why. Taylor played fast and loud, and would often hit bad notes, or play a bit out of tune. But no matter what, he would always make it sound good. Nobody, however, could match him when it came to emotional fervor. Songs like Give Me Back My Wig, She's Gone, Walking The Ceiling and so many others are now considered blues classics.

Born in Mississippi in 1917, Taylor didn't start playing guitar until he was 20. He worked Delta juke joints and house parties until he moved north to Chicago in 1942. He occasionally performed in South Side bars at night while working various day jobs. By the late 1950s, though, he became a full time musician. He recorded one single, Christine/Alley Music, for Firma Records and another, Take Five/My Baby's Coming Home , for Bea & Baby Records in the early 1960s. Both records were good local sellers but went largely unnoticed outside of Chicago. Another session for Chess remained unissued until recently. He toured Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival but was relegated to playing only Elmore James songs.

Upon release of his Alligator album in 1971, Taylor finally started to receive the critical acclaim due him. He appeared at the second Ann Arbor Blues Festival in 1970 to 5000 enthusiastic new, mostly white, college kids. Taylor began touring the country, continuing to gain new, young fans. And he never changed a bit. Taylor played the same songs the same way whether he was at Florence's on the South Side of Chicago or at Yale or Princeton University.

In all, Taylor recorded a total of four Alligator albums. Aside from his self-titled debut, Taylor's records are Natural Boogie, the live Beware Of The Dog! and Genuine Houserockin' Music. The success of these records helped Alligator grow and become the force in blues that it is today. Taylor died of cancer in 1975. He was inducted into the Blues Foundation's Hall of Fame in 1984.