By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
"I remember a few weeks after [the session], Dixon coming to me and saying that the song was a hit," Taylor says, laughing. "I was lost! I'm thinking, How? What does this mean? What happens next? A lot of folks thought I got rich on that song, but I was as poor after it came out as I was before I stood in front of that microphone. [The Chess brothers] didn't do anything for me as far as money, but I was able to accomplish some nice things because of that record."
Nice things like building a solid fan base by touring nonstop, appearing in the 1970 documentary The Blues Is Alive and Well in Chicago, and, following the dissolution of Chess Records, attracting the notice of Alligator, an independent Chicago blues label that was formed in the Seventies to document the contemporary blues scene in the Windy City. Her seven albums for Alligator (from 1975's I Got What It Takes to the most recent, 1993's Force of Nature) have been uniformly fine updatings of Taylor's pile-driving style, and have featured cameos by some of the most respected blues players, including guitarists Son Seals and Buddy Guy, as well as harp wiz Carey Bell. Five of those albums have racked up Grammy nominations, and the 1984 multiartist collaboration Blues Explosion earned Taylor one of those gold Victrola statuettes for herself.
But like nearly every blues artist, Taylor makes her living on the road, performing about 200 shows per year, an exhausting schedule she hopes never stops. "I'm not out there because I have to be; I'm out there because I love it," she declares. "It makes my day that my fans are out there waiting for me to come to town. It's what I feel good doing. It means something to me. People always ask me when I'm going to hang it up and retire. I say, 'Whenever God gets tired of me being out there, he'll retire me.'"