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Jan 31 2012 by Andrew Welsh, Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
FORMER Rolling Stones star Mick Taylor says he’s put his health problems aside.
The legendary guitarist had to scrap an eagerly-awaited appearance near Perth at the Green Hotel back in October 2010 due to medical issues – but he’s now fit and raring to go ahead of a rearranged show at the Kinross venue on March 10.
Taylor told Music Scene in an exclusive interview that he’s planning to unveil his new band at the Fifestock event, which will be his only Scottish date.
“I’ve been rehearsing in London, playing with different musicians and gradually putting a band together,” he explained.
“I’m looking to play as much guitar as I possibly can. I’m off to Germany in a few days’ time where I’ll be playing with the piano player Ben Waters and Charlie Watts in their boogie-woogie rhythm and blues band.
“We’re doing five shows and I can’t wait to start playing. I have never been a hundred percent healthy but I’m doing the best I can.
“I’m looking forward.”
Now aged 63, Taylor was recently ranked one of the top 40 guitarists of all-time in Rolling Stone magazine.
After a stint with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, he joined The Rolling Stones in 1969 as the replacement for Brian Jones.
Taylor stayed with the band until December 1974 when he opted to join Cream legend Jack Bruce in the wake of strained working relations with Stones mainman Keith Richards.
His first show with the band was a free concert in London’s Hyde Park in July ‘69 in front of an estimated 250,000 fans
“It was an astonishing event,” he says, looking back at the show.
“The year before there had been a concert in the park with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker’s short-lived project Blind Faith.
“That’s probably where Mick Jagger got the idea from. Then of course there was the whole tragedy of Brian Jones dying but we went ahead with the concert anyway.
“I was very nervous but was more nervous before the first few gigs after I joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.
“Following Eric Clapton and Peter Green a lot was expected of me quickly, but because I was a lot younger and hadn’t had any experience at all of playing regularly live it didn’t happen that way.”
Taylor says he’s indebted to Mayall for helping hone his musical abilities.
“I didn’t really develop as a guitar player until I joined John Mayall – that was a significant part of my career,” he remembered.
“I was on the road with John doing European and US tours from ‘67 to ‘69 and that’s when I started to develop.
“Being so young, and at such an impressionable age with all the great music that was around, that was a really significant part of my life.
“I would like to write about that period. My whole history as a guitar player goes back to when I was 14 years old and listening to and buying Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry records.
“Credit to John, he just keeps going and going.”
Down the years he’s worked with a host of legends, including Tubular Bells star Mike Oldfield.
“That was an off-the-wall sort of collaboration in the early ‘Seventies,” Taylor declared.
“It was Richard Branson’s idea, I think. It was the beginning of Virgin Records and one of their first major sellers.
“Richard’s taken over Northern Rock and I’m still a struggling blues artist! I’ll always remember seeing him at Gatwick Airport carrying luggage for travellers on his airline.”
The guitarist was reunited with Stones mates past and present Ron Wood, Charlie Watts and Bill Wyman at a benefit concert for the band’s original piano player and former road manager Ian Stewart in London last March.
“Everybody needs to keep on playing, even old Stones,” he quipped.
“I saw Mick (Jagger) a couple of years ago when I did overdubs for a previously unreleased track on the remastered version of Exile On Main Street.
“It felt so comfortable. I just did it in a hour. It was just a backing track with no vocal until he wrote a song around a chord sequence and I added some guitar.”
But it’s not all backward glances from Taylor when it comes to music, as he stresses he keeps a keen eye on today’s scene.
“I usually take notice of exceptional singing talents,” he states.
“The last really good singer was Amy Winehouse. Ask my 15-year-old daughter who lives in Florida and she would probably say Adele.
“She gravitates towards what’s popular and current now. Adele bucks the trend and sells a lot of records.
“There’s always somebody who comes along and surprises everybody.
“Because of downloading and because the business has changed so much since I started there’s no one trend.
“Everybody’s doing different things really. Anyone that’s not really popular is called alternative, even if it’s not that radical.
“It’s just labels really, but it’s sad that all the independent record shops have gone out of business.
“Most young people have a Tesco music culture – that’s where they hear it.
“You don’t have to sell many, only 30,000 to have a number one.”
And he insists that despite a nine-year hiatus since his last album, he’s ready to relaunch his recording career.
“I’m planning to record here, there and everywhere but haven’t started yet,” he said.
“I’ve got lots of ideas and lots of songs, and some unfinished demos. There’s some good material to work on.
“My next task is to sort out the practical things about who to work with. I need to try out different people.
“I’m sure the band will be bass, drums, keyboards, maybe an extra guitar player and maybe a female vocalist.
“It’s early days though.”
Following the disappointment felt by fans after his last Kinross gig was scrubbed, he insists he wants to make up for lost time at the intimate Green – though he’s only too aware of the potential pitfalls of playing small venues.
“I took a break for a while because of health problems but now I’m itching to play again,” he insisted.
“It’s just a warm-up gig at Kinross. It’ll be one of potentially many all over the place.
“I hope everyone enjoys it, but if not, I’m a bit of a stand-up comic in my spare time so I’m ready.
“I have been heckled, but that’s a story I would like to keep for my book when it comes out!”