Stones in my Passway: The Other Mick (Taylor, that is)

Thanks to Tex Edwards for bringing the story in London’s Daily Mail about ex-Rolling Stone Mick Taylor. The headline says it all: The Rolling Stone who’s stony broke: Why Mick Taylor lives in a rundown Suffolk semi with a shabby car. I hate to drop lines like this, but I have very fond memories of playing with Mick (Taylor, that is) when I lived in LA in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I was playing with Carla Olson and one day her husband and manager Saul Davis said, “How do you feel about doing a record and a tour with Mick Taylor in the band?” I was all for it, of course. Any misgivings about how we would get along flew out the window when I handed him a copy of my first novel, Rock Critic Murders, and he read it over the weekend and said he liked it very much. “Raymond Chandler was really the best, wasn’t he?” Mick said, and I agreed. That made two things we agreed on whole heartedly: Howlin’ Wolf and Raymond Chandler. It’s one thing to play with a great guitarist. There’s a lot of those out there. But to play with one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived, a guy who can spin a whole orchestra out of his instrument, who can conjure up epic walls of sound in a 30 second solo, that’s another thing. Then you have that undeniable sound from all those classic Stones LPs, plus those Hubert Sumlin licks from songs like “Little Red Rooster” and “Killin’ Floor,” which Mick could do like no one else. It was a real life changing experience. There were nights when I actually found myself dropping out of the song because I couldn’t believe some of the stuff he was playing and I just wanted to listen instead of playing my bass. Mick also liked the songs I wrote in Carla’s band, “Who Put the Sting on the Honey Bee” and “World of Pain.” If that sounds self-serving, oh well. It sure made my day.
We recorded both those songs with Mick, “Honey Bee” appearing on the live CD, “Too Hot for Snakes,” released on Watermelon Records in 1990 and “World of Pain” on “Within An Ace,” the follow-up studio CD.
We always played a few Stones covers on those shows. “Silver Train” and “You Gotta Move” were favorites, but “Sway” was always a show-stopper.
I’ve written about all this already in my memoir, Never the Same Again: A Rock n’ Roll Gothic, so I am covering old ground again, but reading the Daily Mail piece brought it all flooding back. Mick has put on quite a few pounds since I last saw him. Maybe he’s put on weight because he’s stopped doing drugs. I don’t know. It’s none of my business, but if that’s the cause, maybe it’s a good start, a fair trade for now. Anyway, I wish him well.
When I first started playing seriously in the mid-1970s, it was with Eddie Munoz, who later formed The Skunks with me and Bill Blackmon here in Austin (After the Skunks, Eddie joined the Plimsouls; now he’s playing bass in a band called Magic Christian). (Oh yeah, Blondie drummer Clem Burke is in the band, too. Which is cool.) Carla was Eddie’s girlfriend at the time and whenever we were around each other, we’d end up jamming on Stones songs. We must have played 50 or 100 different Stones songs. We idolized the Stones. We cut and sprayed our hair like Keith Richards. We imagined we WERE the Stones.
When we did the tour with Mick, we had Ian McLagan on keyboards. Ian had done many tours with the Stones. We had two saxophonists, 3 backing singers, and Barry Goldberg (Electric Flag) on keyboards (as well as McLagan) and Juke Logan on harmonica. It was a helluva band. It wasn’t the Stones, but it was cool as shit.
Oh yeah, one of the saxophonists was my cousin, Joe Sublett, who also played with a little blues band from Austin called Paul Ray & The Cobras, sometimes referred to as the band Stevie Ray Vaughan was in back when he was Austin’s little secret.
Odd that after all those years in Austin, where people constantly got Joe mixed up with me and me mixed up with Joe (Let’s see, we’re both tall, we’re both musicians, we have the same last name & first initial, but still…), we had to move to LA before we ever played any gigs together.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Nordstrom’s picking up a new suit. The salesman there mentioned that he used to be a musician long ago, too. In fact, he had gone to high school with me and Lou Ann Barton in Fort Worth.
I said, “That’s cool… yeah…” Someday, I guess I will have to grow a mustache start playing the saxophone. That will really screw people up!

Playing with Mick Taylor and Carla Olson at the Roxy in LA 1990; that's the headstock of my bass in the lower left. Don't expect to get in many photos if you are playing with a rock star, even an ex-rock star.

Playing with Mick Taylor and Carla Olson at the Roxy in LA 1990; that's the headstock of my bass in the lower left. Don't expect to get in many photos if you are playing with a rock star, even an ex-rock star.

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