Learning to play the guitar and harmonica he soon formed the Butterscotch Fire Dept Blues Band and later the first Otis Taylor Blues Band. In the 60’s he came to England for awhile performing in various bands before returning to the States to for T&O Short Line with Tommy Bolin of Deep Purple. A few more bands followed and then abruptly he became a successful antiques collector and coached a professional bicycle team who ranked fourth nationally.
In 1995 he was coaxed back on stage and the overwhelming response marked a return to the scene full time. By 1998 he had released two CD’s on Shoelace Records ‘Blue Eyed Monster’ and ‘When Negros Walked the Earth’ which entranced the blues world with their intense bitter lyrics and sparse instrumentation. Playboy Magazine, (that well known publication), described them as being in the John Lee Hooker mode. I’m not sure about that but certainly they are heavily rhythmic and brooding in their feeling. In the summer of 2000 he received a Composition Fellowship from the Sundance Institution.
If this was not enough on the 2001 CD ‘White African’ on Northern Blues Music he sang about the death of his uncle and the lynching of his great grandfather. The album gained four W.C Handy nominations and won an award for the ‘Best New Artist Debut’ – and so it goes on: in 2003 ‘Respect The Dead’ was applauded in the ‘Best Acoustic Artist’ category and in 2004 his Telarc CD ‘Truth Is Not Fiction’ debuted an eclectic ‘trance blues’ modal style which was repeated on his latest CD ‘Into The Fold’ also on Telarc.
Otis Taylor is usually to be seen at large prestigious venues and festivals, playing to crowds of thousands. I myself saw him at The North Sea Jazz Festival in Holland where he played to a sea of people swaying and stomping to the never ending rhythms. However, amazingly for one night in Castor his band were persuaded to perform live at The Village Hall.