On the night in question, I had gone to The Hop with some guys from our band, former schoolmates and Ex-Juniors Mick Taylor and Alan Shacklock. It was after John Mayall had finished his first set without a guitarist that it became clear that for some reason Eric Clapton was not going to show up. A group of local musicians, which included myself, Robert 'Jab' Als, Herbie Sparks, and others, along with three local guitarists—Alan Shacklock, Mick Casey (formerly of the Trekkas) and Mick Taylor—were in attendance.— Danny Bacon, a drummer friend of the Juniors,
In 1965, at age 16, Taylor went to see a John Mayall's Bluesbreakers performance at "The Hop" Woodhall Community Centre, Welwyn Garden City.
Taylor played the second set with Mayall's band, and after winning Mayall's respect, they exchanged phone numbers. This encounter proved to be pivotal in Taylor's career when Mayall began to look for a Guitarist to fill Peter Green's vacancy the following year. Mayall contacted Taylor, and invited him to take Green's place. Taylor made his debut with the Bluesbreakers at the Manor House, an old blues club in north London. For those in the music scene the night was an event... "Let's go and see this 17-year-old kid try and replace Eric". Taylor toured and recorded the album Crusade with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. From 1966 to 1969, Taylor developed a guitar style that is blues-based with Latin and jazz influences. He is the Guitarist on the Bluesbreaker albums Diary of a Band, Bare Wires, and Blues from Laurel Canyon. Later on in his career, he further developed his skills as a slide Guitarist.
Throughout his career, Taylor has used various guitars, but is mostly associated with the Gibson Les Paul. His first Les Paul was bought when he was still playing with The Gods (from Selmer's, London in '65). He acquired his second Les Paul in 1967, not long after joining The Bluesbreakers: Taylor came to Olympic Studios to buy a Les Paul that Keith Richards wanted to sell. On the '72/'73 tours Taylor used a couple of Sunburst Les Paul guitars without a Bigsby. Other guitars include a Gibson ES-355 for the recording of Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St., a Gibson SG on the 1969, 1970 and 1971 tours, and occasionally a Fender Stratocaster and a Fender Telecaster.
Taylor's onstage debut as a Rolling Stone, at the age of 20, was the free concert in Hyde Park, London on 5 July 1969. An estimated quarter of a million people attended for a show that turned into a tribute to Brian Jones, who had died two days before the concert.
Taylor has been married twice and has two daughters. Chloe (born 6 January 1971) is a daughter by his first wife Rose Millar. Taylor married Rose in 1975 after leaving the Stones, but the relationship was reportedly "on the rocks" before long and resulted in divorce only a few years later. His second daughter Emma was born from a short relationship with an American woman, who sang backing vocals with Taylor's band on one occasion.
In June 1973, he joined Mike Oldfield onstage at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in a performance of Oldfield's Tubular Bells. Taylor was asked to take part in this project by Richard Branson as he felt Oldfield was unknown, having just been signed to Branson's fledgling label, Virgin Records. Taylor joined Oldfield once more for a BBC television broadcast in November 1973.
In December 1974, Taylor announced he was leaving the Rolling Stones. The bandmates were at a party in London when Taylor told Jagger he was quitting and walked out. Taylor's decision came as a shock to many. The Rolling Stones were due to start recording a new album in Munich, and the entire band was reportedly angry at Taylor for leaving at such short notice.
After his resignation from the Rolling Stones, Jack Bruce invited him to form a new band with keyboardist Carla Bley and Drummer Bruce Gary. In 1975, the band began rehearsals in London with tour dates scheduled for later that year. The group toured Europe, with a sound leaning more toward jazz, including a performance at the Dutch Pinkpop festival, but disbanded the following year. A performance recorded on 1 June 1975 (which was finally released on CD in 2003 as "Live at the Manchester Free Trade Hall" by The Jack Bruce Band) and another performance from the Old Grey Whistle Test seem to be the only material available from this brief collaboration.
In 1977 Taylor signed a solo recording deal with Columbia Records. By April 1978 he had given several interviews to music magazines to promote the new album which was finished but would not be released for another year. In 1979 the album, titled Mick Taylor, was released by Columbia Records. The album material mixed rock, jazz and Latin-flavoured blues musical styles. The album reached No. 119 on the Billboard charts in early August with a stay of five weeks on the Billboard 200. CBS advised Taylor to promote the album through American radio stations but was unwilling to back the Guitarist for any supporting tour. Already frustrated with this situation, Taylor took a break from the music industry for about a year.
In 1981, he toured Europe and the United States with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After, sharing the bill with Black Sabbath. He spent most of 1982 and 1983 on the road with John Mayall, for the "Reunion Tour" with John McVie of Fleetwood Mac and Colin Allen. During this tour Bob Dylan showed up backstage at The Roxy in Los Angeles to meet Taylor.
In 1983, Taylor joined Mark Knopfler and played on Dylan's Infidels album. He also appeared on Dylan's live album Real Live, as well as the follow-up studio album Empire Burlesque. In 1984, Dylan asked Mick Taylor to assemble an experienced rock and roll band for a European tour he signed with Bill Graham. Ian McLagan was hired to play piano and Hammond organ, Greg Sutton to play bass and Colin Allen, a long-time friend of Taylor, on drums. The tour lasted for four weeks at venues such as Munich's Olympic Stadium Arena and Milan's San Siro Stadium, sharing the bill with Carlos Santana and Joan Baez, who appeared on the same bill for a couple of shows.
Taylor guested with the Grateful Dead on 24 September 1988 at the last show of that year's Madison Square Garden run in New York. Taylor lived in New York throughout the 1980s. He battled with addiction problems before getting back on track in the second half of the 1980s and moving to Los Angeles in 1990. During this time Taylor did session work and toured in Europe, America and Japan with a band including Max Middleton (formerly of the Jeff Beck Group), Shane Fontayne, and Blondie Chaplin. In 1990, his CD Stranger in This Town was released by Maze Records, backed up by a mini-tour including the record release party at the Hard Rock Cafe as well as gigs at the Paradise Theater.
After spending two years as a resident of Miami, during which time he played with a band called 'Tumbling Dice' featuring Bobby Keys, Nicky Hopkins and others, Taylor moved back to England in the mid-1990s. He released a new album in 1998 entitled "A Stone's Throw." Playing at clubs and theaters as well as appearing at festivals has kept Taylor connected with an appreciative audience and fan base.
He began what was to be a significant series of collaborations with L.A. based Carla Olson with their "Live at the Roxy" album "Too Hot For Snakes," the centrepiece of which is an extended seven-minute performance of "Sway." Another highlight is the lead track on the album, "Who Put the Sting (On the Honey Bee)," by Olson's then-bassist Jesse Sublett. It was followed by Olson's "Within An Ace," which featured Taylor on seven songs. He appeared on three songs from "Reap The Whirlwind" and then again on Olson's "The Ring of Truth," on which he plays lead guitar on nine tracks, including a twelve-minute version of the song "Winter." Further work by Olson and Taylor can be heard on the Olson-produced Barry Goldberg album "Stoned Again." Taylor went on to appear on Percy Sledge's "Blue Night" (1994), along with Steve Cropper, Bobby Womack and Greg Leisz.
When interviewed by Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone in 1995, Jagger stated that Taylor never explained why he had left, and surmised that "[Taylor] wanted to have a solo career. I think he found it difficult to get on with Keith." In the same interview Jagger said of Taylor's contribution to the band: "I think he had a big contribution. He made it very musical. He was a very fluent, melodic player, which we never had, and we don't have now. Neither Keith nor Ronnie Wood plays that kind of style. It was very good for me working with him ... Mick Taylor would play very fluid lines against my vocals. He was exciting, and he was very pretty, and it gave me something to follow, to bang off. Some people think that's the best version of the band that existed". Asked if he agreed with that assessment, Jagger said: "I obviously can't say if I think Mick Taylor was the best, because it sort of trashes the period the band is in now." Charlie Watts stated: "I think we chose the right man for the job at that time just as Ronnie was the right man for the job later on. I still think Mick is great. I haven't heard or seen him play in a few years. But certainly what came out of playing with him are musically some of the best things we've ever done". In an October 2002 Guitar World interview, Richards reflected on his relationship with Taylor: "Mick Taylor and I worked really well together ... He had some lovely Energy. Sweetly sophisticated playing, way beyond his years. Lovely sense of melody. I never understood why he left the Stones, Nor does he, I think ... I had no Desire to see him go." Taylor later admitted in the 2012 documentary Crossfire Hurricane that he had become addicted to heroin and hoped to protect his family from the drug culture surrounding the band by leaving.
In 2003, Taylor reunited with John Mayall for his 70th Birthday Concert in Liverpool along with Eric Clapton. A year later, in autumn 2004, he also joined John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers for a UK theatre tour. He toured the US East Coast with the Experience Hendrix group during October 2007. The Experience Hendrix group appeared at a series of concerts to honour Jimi Hendrix and his musical legacy. Players included Taylor, Mitch Mitchell, Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin and Robby Krieger.
For the 2010 re-release of Exile on Main St. Taylor worked with Mick Jagger at a London studio (November 2009) to record new guitar and vocal parts for the previously unreleased song, "Plundered My Soul". The track was selected by the Rolling Stones for release as a limited edition single on Record Store Day.
Taylor also helped to promote the Boogie For Stu album, which was recorded by Ben Waters to honour Ian Stewart (original Stones Pianist and co-founder of the band), by taking part in a concert to mark the CD's official launch at the Ambassadors Theatre, London on 9 March 2011. Proceeds from the event were donated to the British Heart Foundation. Although Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn't show up, Taylor noticeably enjoyed performing with, amongst others, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman.
Too Hot For Snakes and The Ring of Truth was released by Fuel / Universal autumn of 2012 as a 2-CD set with 3 bonus tracks including 2 previously unreleased songs from the Roxy Theatre.
During an interview on the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon show (broadcast on 8 April 2013), Keith Richards stated that Taylor would be performing with the Stones for their upcoming 2013 tour dates. Between 25 November 2012 and 13 July 2013 Taylor joined the Stones' 50 & Counting Tour performing at each of the 30 shows across Europe and North America, including sitting in on four songs at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and several numbers during their headline set at the Glastonbury Festival. The tour ended with two concerts at Hyde Park, London, which resulted in the album, Hyde Park Live and the concert film Sweet Summer Sun: Live in Hyde Park. He once again accompanied the Stones between 21 February and 22 November 2014 for the 29 dates of the 14 On Fire concerts across Asia, Europe and Australia/New Zealand.