THE ROLLING STONES’ OTHER MICK | MICK TAYLOR’S SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE

The epic pic, “Flapjacks and a Fag.”  — The Rolling Stones’ Mick Taylor and Keith Richards, Hotel Manchester, September, 1973 — Photo by Laurens Van Houten

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At the wee age of 20 years old, guitarist Mick Taylor (of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers fame) replaced Brian Jones, in what as that time the greatest rock and roll band in the world– the Rolling Stones.  Well the best was yet to come, as they went on to record the epic musical masterpieces– Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street.

Then suddenly in ’74, Mick dropped out.  Some say he was kicked out– but Taylor simply had enough of the chaos, drugs, and strain that came with being in the Stones.  Had he stayed, Taylor adamantly believes that the Stones’ life of debauchery would have killed him.

Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones

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The one thing no one argues, not even the Stone’s themselves, is that Mick Taylor’s musical prowess far surpassed that of his former band mates.  His fluid and bluesy guitar work held the group together through many of Richards’ drug and alcohol binges.  The irony is that many fans unwittingly attribute much of Mick Taylor’s picking on countless Stones’ classics from ’69-’74 to guitar frontman, Keith Richards.

Back in ’82, the Stone’s management cut-off royalties due to Taylor for his work with the band– essentially screwing him.  Adding insult to injury, they threw this tasty gem in the recently released documentary “Stones in Exile”–

Bassist Bill Wyman declares, “Musically he (Mick Taylor) was a better musician than the other guys in the band.  Some of the things he did was amazing but he was incredibly boring onstage.  He’d do the most amazing licks, riffs and solos but he’d just stand there and look at his guitar.  God, the audience would see the top of his head all the time.  I always thought he could’ve been a bit more… but then I’m not a good one to talk.  I don’t leap about much.  In 30 years with The Stones I’ve probably made three steps on the stage.”

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Mick Taylor, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.

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September 1970, Paris, France —  Mick Jagger, guitarist Mick Taylor and drummer Charlie Watts from the Rolling Stones during a press conference before their concert at Palais des Sports. — Image by © Jean Louis Atlan/Sygma/Corbis

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Mick Taylor with the Rolling Stones

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Mick Taylor with the Rolling Stones

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Mick Taylor with the Rolling Stones  — Image by © Chris Walter

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October 1969, Los Angeles — The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Mick Taylor, and Charlie Watts. — Image by © Henry Diltz/CORBIS

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September 11th, 1973, Frankfurt, Germany —  (Original caption) A lot of young people will recognize this young man who has had a lot of influence in recent years. For the rest of us, this is Mick Jagger (and Mick Taylor on right) of the Rolling Stones. He’s arriving in Frankfurt for the start of the German leg of his rock troupe’s 1973 European tour. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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June 13th, 1969, Westminster, London — (Original caption)  Here is the new Rolling Stones line-up. Mick Taylor (second from left), a young lead guitarist, has just joined the pop group in place of Brian Jones, who quit after disagreement on music policy. The group is shown at Hyde Park. Left to Right:  Drummer Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor, lead singer Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richard and bass-player Bill Wyman. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

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June 14th, 1969 —  Rolling Stones with new member Mick Taylor. — Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

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Mick Taylor and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones — Image by © Chris Walters

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Keith Richards, Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones

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Jimi Hendrix and Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones

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Mick Taylor with the John Mayall Bluesbreakers

44 thoughts on “THE ROLLING STONES’ OTHER MICK | MICK TAYLOR’S SUBSTANCE OVER STYLE

  1. i’m in that inbetween age that makes my opinion irrelevant…but Mick T’s side work had more zoom than Brian had or Ronnie has…for some reason, I hate this…probably because I never got to see it.

    • The guitar solo in “Can’t You Hear Me Knockin” is proof enough.

      Brian was good. Ronnie is a hack, and the luckiest man in Rock history after Ringo Starr.

      • Agreed… also tune into ‘Time Waits for no man’. Taylor’s meaty guitar put the fangs in the Stones 68-74 work. They’ve not come close since he left.
        I am a huge fan of his work w/ J. Mayall as well…. check out: ‘Diary of a Band, Volumes 1 and 2′, ‘Blues from Laurel Canyon’ and ‘Crusade’ for some awesome Les Paul fueled Mick!

        Love the blog and thanks for the increased posting activity!!!!!

      • my thoughts exactly. and good point with “can’t you hear me knockin”-best example of Taylor’s contribution, and a song that epitomizes the stone’s attitude.

        The only thing that Taylor lacked was style and myth, but hey when your standing there next to Keith, probably the coolest rock star of all time, its not hard appear boring is it?

      • Bit harsh on old Ronnie J.P, Keef may feel similarly I suspect but Mick certainly wsa the “AMF” injection the lads required at the time.

  2. I love all things Rolling Stones, and stumbled across your blog when looking for pics of Anita Pallenberg. Since then, I absolutely love, not only your amazing finds for pictures (I especially love the pic with the mirror, where the perspective is just so, that you can see Charlie Watts in the reflection), but the language you use in your style of writing.

    Another awesome post! Keep up the good work, thanks!

  3. Very sad story. I remember him being with John Mayall’s band. When you think about it, he was just SO young – would have probably been better for him if he had never joined the Stones, he might have had more success and happiness with forming his own band or even joining someone else, he didn’t fit in with the Stones on a personal level. He can’t really blame them for all his troubles afterwards though.

    • He’s always maintained that the correct question is not why did he leave the Stones, but why did he join the Stones. He never wanted to be a rock star and he never really wanted to play rock. But at 20, when you’re invited to join the Stones, what else are you gonna say but yes?
      Like anniesparks said, Just too young to be that good. Some of the classic cuts he made with Mayall he was the same age I was when I was a junior and senior in high school. Amazing.
      He never has blamed his subsequent drug problems on the Stones. In fact he goes out of his way to say that they aren’t the reason he became so dependent on so many different chemicals at various times. Having been there myself, I know you can use all the excuses you want but ultimately it’s you and your choices. Maybe that’s why I feel so connected to the man. I think we both would like a lot of do-overs in life.

  4. Awesome picture of Mick onstage w/ Mayall’s erstwhile drummer, Keef Hartley.
    d love to see more of those!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. He’s great on ‘Get your ya ya’s out’ and I think my favorite Mick Taylor song is ‘Jivin’ Sister Fanny’ which if you haven’t heard can be found on the ‘Metamorphesis’ album. If you’ve ever played guitar and played Stones songs, it’s fairly easy to tell which guitar is Keith and which is Mick Taylor or Ron Wood. Keith plays a lot of open tunings (example – Tumbling Dice). Mick Taylor is the one playing the tasty licks.

  6. I love the picture with their gold record on the table. Clearly there for racking up some coke =)

  7. Taylor was great. He probably shouldn’t have ever joined the Stones but we are glad he did. He wasn’t a great showman but he was the best musician in the history of the band. The true reason he left was because Keith Richards treated him like shit. I believe Richards was jealous of Taylors playing acumen. Good stuff JP. Thanks

    • Agreed, Bum. It’s fairly obvious (albeit in ‘jest’) that richards’ jealousy is what prompted everything. Too bad. Just read that article in the link and it’s a great read.

      Hopefully Mick will pull his finger out (as the Brits say) and contract a good barrister to get him his due credit ($$$) .

      I’ve not been able to stop listening to Mick’s music on the iPod since I read this blog entry.

      Thanks JP. :/

  8. Great Post JP. Huge, huge Stones fan here. Agree with everyone else’s take, and must recommend The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones and S.T.P.: A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones , both excellent looks at the 1972 and ’75 tours, respectively.

  9. First saw MT with the Glimmer Twins in’69- two shows at Madison Square Garden in November that year. He was on his game less than six months into joining the band and even then you could see how he tried to defer to Keith, and was scorned by Richards. The Taylor years produced some of the Stone’s finest work and his contribution to the band cannot be taken lightly. Sadly (or perhaps wisely) he was not of the same demeanor of his band mates and that coupled with Keith’s attitude led to his undoing. Agreed that Woodie is a personality and not much more and the Stones probably would have produced a lot more landmark music than the drivel that followed Exile had Mick been accepted for his talent. Almost tragic but Mick and Keith have always controlled the band and they became a parody of themselves. I won’t forget the early years (64- 68) when Brian was still healthy and the band was so good. A tremendous legacy and as always a story filled with paradox.

    • So you were in attendance at the MSG shows that are part of J. Maysles ‘Gimme Shelter’?
      Awesome.

      • I was , Don, after my best friend wrecked his ’65 Corvair on the Cross Bronx Expressway. He put his left arm through the driver’s side window, we hitched a ride to MSG with some other concert goers, and after the show went to Roosevelt Hospital where he received about 20 stitches. The bloody arm, wrapped in a towel added a rather bizarre note to the show. Ike and Tina Turner opened one night, with Janis Joplin appearing on one tune, and a great singer who never really got his props, Terry Reid, opened the other night. I think BB King may have been on the bill but memory may be flawed, imagine that? Terry Reid was offered the gig as front man in Led Zepplin, and turned it down, which gave Robert Plant that job…
        My first Stones show was three years earlier, at the Brooklyn Fox theatre, with a New York DJ producing the event, Murray the K…I was 15 at the time and had only seen a couple of shows prior to the Stones- The Byrds- in Newark NJ, and at a club in Greenwich Village, a band Danny Kalb had that became The Blues Project…

        check out this link to the Stones tour of ’69, which culminated in the death of the sixties at Altamount:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rolling_Stones_American_Tour_1969

  10. Was fwd’d this link by someone who obviously knows me too well. From the Mick T. era Stones, pictures of Gram w/Nudie (!), and the beloved Raoul Duke, where do I sign up for more of this delicious madness? Oh. Okay. Done.
    FYI: Having seen the Rolling Stones roughly 66-70 times (1965-last Tour), I long ago gave up my nostalgia for the “Mythical ’69-’74 Line Up” as their most exhilarating era. I saw THAT BAND first in ’69, (“Breakfast Show”, LA Forum) and every Forum date in ’72. Toss in the Nicaraguan Benefit in Jan. ’73 and then 4-5 more shows that week in Honolulu, and I must say I nearly wept when they parted ways. In the ensuing years, I found myself attending more out of some misplaced sense of “Loyalty” or maybe “Tradition”-Surely not a proper Rock and Roll motive. But I told myself that Ronnie’s workmanlike playing created a “String Section” that favored “weaving” over ROCK GOD-LEVEL axemanship, so I told myself it was all “Okay” if he managed to keep The Glimmers together. After all, they probably wouldn’t have seen the 80’s w/out that level of camaraderie, so I sucked it up. Then this spring, we all had cause to revisit “Exile” w/fresh ears, and I will forever regret my acceptance/defense of the “One Mick Pony”. Yeah, I’ll always love the Band in all of it’s incarnations, but those five years were and still are the stuff of Legend. In retrospect, even “Mythical” feels woefully inadequate. That WAS THE SHIT!

    • It was. Mick Taylor brought a musicality to their live performances that wasn’t there before and hasn’t been since.

  11. ron…. sounds like you could start your own blog rambling on about your 69-74 Stones experiences…. IF YOU COULD REMEMBER THEM!!!!! I’d tune in for those ruminations. :)

  12. Stones never had the same musicality once Taylor left. What do you make of him helping out Jagger on the Exile outtakes? Love to see if as part of any 50th anniversary tour, but I read where he is not in the best of health.

  13. keep in mind the irony of MT helping Jagger out- he also went back into the studio when “Ya- Yas” was being mastered and dubbed in a ton of guitar work at Jagger’s urging, to support Keith’s anemic smack- addled playing….

  14. Yeah, Wyman, why didn’t you realize you had no room to talk before you started your BS. Taylor is still my favorite guitarist in the world and I myself have played guitar for over 40 years. Most players don’t do anything that really astonishes me(which certainly doesn’t mean I can play anything they can) except 2- Jimi and Mick T. Taylor was the best thing that ever happened to that band and to be honest the only Rolling Stone songs I’ve heard since he left were on the radio, back when I still listened to the radio. He was the perfect foil for Richards eventhough KR apparently was too stoned or jealous to realize it at the time. He preferred a total hack he could order around and not have to play like a demon just to keep up with to having the best band in the world. Now he says he wishes Taylor had been in the band all this time — right, Keith. Taylor lifted that band from a good basic blues-rock band with no right to be on the same stage show and playing wise as Cream, Hendrix, Zep, Who, some of the SF bands etc to being not only those bands equals but made them a band that really was the greatest rock n roll band in the world. Sway, Time Waits for No One, Moonlight Mile, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’, the live Love in Vain, live versions of Midnight Rambler, Street Fighting Man, Gimme Shelter and any bootleg from the 72 US tour or the 73 world tour is as good as rock ever got. I love the guy, and I’ve loved his post-RS career just as much. Sway with Carla Olson would make him a guitar god if he never recorded another cut. Dylan, Mayall, Bruce,Groom, Olson – and scores of others plus his own solo tours prove that he’s a musician for the ages and the Stones were the act who went into instant oldies mode when he left. He’s continued to improve and evolve his playing and is a great live act. And then to rip the man off the way they did. The Grimmer Twins will get theirs. God bless Mick Taylor!

    • What about Frank Zappa…….you saying you can play up to him? Mick and Frank were the best of the greats…Jimi was OK on style, but played to much to feed back. I saw them all (Jimi only once) in their best years, by far it was Frank and Mick Taylor who impressed me the most. After Mick left the Stones they put out trash and have been living on the Golden year’s legend; when Mick Taylor made them what they are remembered for.

      • Lynn, you’ll notice in my comment I specifically said that just because I knew what a guitarist was doing did not mean I could play it. But even Zappa who no, I couldn’t keep up with him, I usually knew what he was doing, I just couldn’t do it. Taylor and Hendrix occasionally stepped over some kind of magical line where they found hidden frets or strings that weren’t available to the rest of us. And I agree with the rest of your post. Wasn’t saying Jimi and Mick were the best although Mick is to me, just that they could leave me wondering WTF? Jimi is very much a guitarist of his time and age– I rarely listen to him anymore, whereas Mick is for the ages.

    • Brillant commentary, Cormany! well said and hopefully you’re right about Mick getting his due. Given your love of Jimi and MT, how do you feel about Peter Greenbaum?

      The great Peter Green?

      • Peter Green is right there with them. It just happened that my appreciation and awe of MT at some point transcended fandom until he became like a brother I never met. Rarely happens for me, but for years there hasn’t been a day gone by that I haven’t played lots of Mick Taylor. Good for what ailes ya!!
        Mr. Greenbaum is superb though, no doubt about it. And both he and MT had self-confidence problems. Wonder how that could be?

  15. Funny Memory…
    1975, the year I graduated high school, the stones played at the chicago stadium, I think it was July. One of their props, for the song “starfucker” was a 30 foot, inflatable dick, that erected halfway through the song. We had good seats, and could see the thing was patched with numerous band-aids. story was, the notorious chicago cops had vandalized it, and the crew found an ingenious way to keep it up, hehe

  16. When Mick Taylor was with the Rolling Stones they were the Worlds Greatest Rock n Roll Band. When he left they ceased being that and were just an average band, they never really regained the rawness of the sound he gave them. Ronnie Wood could jump and dance with Keith but he could not deliver the killer riffs that Mick Taylor emanated from his guitar.

  17. I agree that Mick T was one hell of a guitar player, and the Stones made (the majority of) their greatest music with him, but those who think that Ronnie Wood is a hack are totally missing something. Anyone who plays guitar themselves will know that Ronnie Wood is an amazing player. He’s also a great songwriter; listen to his solo albums “Gimme Some Neck,” “I’ve Got My Own Album To Do,” “Now Look,” or “Slide on This” and if you can spot talent you’ll agree.

    • mrrockandroll-

      Actually, I do play guitar, and my comment stands.

      Wood is a decent guitarist, and compared to Mick Taylor – he is a hack.

      Everyone keeps pointing out The Faces and his solo works as shining examples of his guitar artistry – No one can really point to any of his guitar work when he was with the Stones that stands out worth a shit.

      That’s my point. He was a pig in slop, livin’ the rock ‘n’ roll life, shakin’ his ass and havin’ a gas.

      Woods an amazing player with the Stones? No. A hack.

      • Woods may have had some good licks…….in 1970!!!! What’s he done since he’s been with the Stones……..as you said…he’s a hack…backing a hack. Since Mick left the Stones, their records prove where the Style was!!!! It’s been a goner since 1974.

  18. The photo captioned “Mick Taylor, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger” in the sunlit room with the flagstoned floor? That’s tour manager Sam Cutler on the right, not Mick.

    High time Mick T. got all the musical praise he deserves. But why at the expense of Keith’s input? There isn’t any ‘smack-addled’ playing at all on Ya-Yas, overdubbed or otherwise, by anyone. The two guitarists are instantly identifiable and complement each other’s playing perfectly.

    Some people are born soloists, virtuosos even (I’ve known a few) who don’t necessarily come up with basic riffs, great-but-simplistic-lyrics or the building blocks of a song all that often. They have their place and the riffers have theirs.

  19. I saw the MT Stones 3 times once in 69 and twice in 72. Nothing like them before then and definitely nothing like them since. Wood is a bozo, plain and simple. Taylor ignited the Stones and when he left, it went down to a way different level. After Taylor left, I saw the Stones in 75 at MSG in New York. Every time they went into solo, I thinking to myself…”Houston, We have a problem”. When they announced Wood as a replacement for the 75 tour, I thought, hey, a name player, can’t be too bad. Boy was I wrong. Of all the talent that auditioned for that role, how the hell did they come up with Wood? They could have had anyone, but chose ClownBoy. Whoever called him a hack is correct. My vote would have been ABW, (Anyone But Wood)My serious choices to replace Taylor would have been (not necessarily in this order) would have been Eric Clapton, Jimmy McCullough from Wings who had that Taylor feel and technique, Dave Edmunds, or even Steve Marriot. All far superior to Ron Wood I’ve seen hundreds of bar band guys who could play rings around Wood in their sleep. If they tour again, hopefully they will have rid themselves of this idiot and get themselves a good guitar player who could possibly get Keith resurrected one last time. Move Wood to bass or the bathroom but get him the hell off the six string. He just plain sucks.

  20. Mick Taylor was the best thing that ever happened to the Stones. When he came onboard, the vacuum left by the demise of Brian Jones was filled, and more so. They went from the greatest rock & roll band in the world, to a parody of their former selves. Did I hear that a complaint that MT played too loud….not loud enough from my perspective. The difference in the quality of their work since MT left is shocking. Keith’s quirky rhythm guitar work is part of the unique sound of the Stones, but he was never an exceptional soloist . MT brought the substance that no amount of flash could ever have achieved.

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