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Passings: Bobby Taylor (1934 - 2017)

by VVN Music

Bobby Taylor, the leader of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers and the man who originally found the Jackson 5, has died at the age of 83.  His family had said he was suffering from throat cancer but other reports stated his cause of death was leukemia and tumors on the spine.

Taylor was born in Washington, DC and had musical influences from an early age.  His mother claimed to have sung with Marian Anderson and have Billie Holiday as a best friend.  Bobby also lived in the same area as Marvin Gaye as a child. He later served as a cook in the Korean War.

Bobby later moved to New York to sing with doo-wop groups from the area and later moved to Columbus, OH to join the Four Pharaohs.

In the early-60's, while in San Francisco, he joined up with Tommy Melton, Tommy Chong (Cheech & Chong), Wes Anderson, Bernie Snead and Floyd Snead (Three Dog Night) in the band Little Daddy and the Bachelors which mainly did Motown covers.

By the middle of the decade, they had changed their name to Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers and were discovered by Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard of the Supremes. Motown head Berry Gordy brought the group to Detroit and signed them to the Gordy label.  Their first single, Does Your Mama Know About Me (co-written by Chong) went to number 29 on the Hot 100 and 5 on the R&B singles in 1968.

Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers followed with two more charting songs, I Am Your Man (1968 / #85 Pop / #40 R&B) and Malinda (1968 / #48 Pop / #16 R&B) before breaking up.

It was also during this time, in July of 1968 that the group had a young family band, the Jackson 5, open one of their shows in Chicago. Taylor took the group to the Motown offices where they impressed executives and were signed and Bobby co-produced their first album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5.

Taylor, as a solo artist, was moved to Motown's V.I.P. label where he recorded three singles but they were not hits.  He ended up leaving Motown in 1971 and sued the label for back royalties.

Bobby eventually moved to the U.K. and formed Bobby Taylor and the New Vancovers who recorded for Motorcity Records but, during the 70's, he entered his first bout with throat cancer and treatments took some toll on his voice.

Early in the 2000's, Taylor moved to Hong Kong where he died Saturday morning.