Monday, July 24, 2017

R.I.P.: Singer Bobby Taylor, Discovered Jackson 5

Bobby Taylor, the veteran singer and producer who brought the Jackson 5 to Motown in the late Sixties, died Saturday morning at a hospital in Hong Kong, where he'd been living for the last several years.

He was 83 and had been undergoing treatment for leukemia and tumors in his spine. "Bobby was a producer, creator and mentor to all of the greats in the early Motown days," says Suzy Michelson, a longtime family friend and fellow producer who confirmed Taylor's death to Rolling Stone.

"Bobby had a range that exceeded even Patti LaBelle," recalls Tommy Chong, who played guitar in Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, a Motown band famous for 1968's Number Five R&B hit "Does Your Mama Know About Me."

"He used to do 'Danny Boy' and make everybody cry in the audience. He would hit notes that were unbelievably high and he could sound like anybody he wanted to sound like—Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Smokey [Robinson]. I've been with a lot of singers, but nothing like Bobby."

Although Motown and the Jacksons gave credit for years to superstar singer Diana Ross for discovering the family band that made "I Want You Back" and "ABC," it was Taylor who spotted them at Chicago's Regal Theatre in 1968. The still-unknown Jackson 5 had been opening for Taylor's Vancouvers.

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