[Slowhand] Taylor borrowed Clapton's guitar

John Mills turbineltd at btconnect.com
Wed Nov 26 03:58:03 EST 2008


26 November 2008 07:00

Mick Taylor - why did you quit Rolling Stones?

It is a question that Mick Taylor always gets asked. Why did you leave the
Rolling Stones?

At the time of his departure the band was at the height of their fame and
without him they went on to sell out stadiums around the world.

He is reported to have walked out after five years with the rock-and-roll
legends after saying he "saw the group as not going anywhere".

The guitarist, who lives near Diss, seldom talks about his time with the
group but yesterday he lifted the lid on life with the Rolling Stones and
said he had no regrets at leaving when he did.

"In the period when I left, the band was in one of their down times," he
said. "It was an unhappy time for me, and probably for the rest of the band
as well.

"It was just after the release of It's Only Rock 'n' Roll, the last of the
six albums I did with them. It is probably publicly known that Keith
Richards and Mick Jagger had fallings out from time to time and this was one
of those, really. Me and Bill Wyman talked about it. He got very frustrated
at that time but he stayed.

"In a way, that sort of friction and chaos can produce great music, but it
was getting harder and harder.

"Around that time we were either in the recording studio or living in the
south of France.

"From being just an ordinary musician making £50 a week, I suddenly for no
good reason had to become a tax exile. It wasn't that I had tax problems,
but they did.

"I have no regrets about leaving when I did. I do not wallow in nostalgia. I
have lots of regrets about other things, but then what musician or anybody
approaching their 60th birthday doesn't have regrets?"

Taylor joined the Rolling Stones in 1969, replacing Brian Jones shortly
before Jones was found dead in a swimming pool.

He worked on such albums as Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street, and was
described recently by drummer Charlie Watts as "clearly the best solo
guitarist the Stones had".

But after five years he walked out and was replaced by Ronnie Wood of the

Yesterday, he described his time with the band as a "rollercoaster" and
praised Mick Jagger for keeping the group together.

He said: "I fell into it quite naturally and picked up bad habits. I really
did think they were a spoilt bunch of pop stars when I joined them. It took
me a while to catch up - but I did.

"It was more or less like a rollercoaster. There were huge stadium tours.
The longest one was about six weeks and the longest we ever played on stage
was maybe an hour and a half. Now there is so much more history to draw on
they do two- hour sets. They found a whole new market in terms of touring
stadiums for vast numbers of people."

He continued: "Mick Jagger is very clever, very intelligent and very funny.
If it wasn't for Mick Jagger's ability to organise things and keep things
going, the band would have never stayed together. He basically managed to
pull them all together and got them to carry on."

Still friends with his former band mates, he said: "I am still friends with
them, especially Bill Wyman. I have not seen Mick Jagger since 1999. But
there is no ill will on my part and I cannot think of any reason why there
is anything but good will on theirs."

Taylor also knocked suggestions that the band was the most raucous of their
time. "Being in the Rolling Stones was mostly hard work and mostly fun," he
said. "It was no more excessive or decadent than any other rock-and- roll
band at that time."

He paid tribute to guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, describing him as a "huge

"Jimi Hendrix was such a huge influence on all of us, not just guitar
players. I knew him very well. Off stage he was very shy and quiet, but on
stage he was completely the opposite."

The former Stone got his first big break at the age of 16 in 1965. "Eric
Clapton inspired me and that is how I got my first job," he said. "I went to
a show John Mayall was doing with the Bluesbreakers in Welwyn Garden City.
For some reason Eric Clapton hadn't shown up to this gig. I watched the
first half which they did as a quartet. Then I went backstage and asked if I
could stand in with them. I borrowed Eric Clapton's guitar and that is how
it started."

Only 10 when he first began learning the guitar, he said: "My mother's
younger brother was in the army and he was in Germany.

"I suppose during that time the GIs were there and the American forces and
he heard lots of American music. He bought himself a guitar and taught
himself. I used to hate school dinners so I would go to my grandmother's
house for lunch. Afterwards I would go upstairs and play his guitar."

Currently touring with his new band and due to play the Waterfront in
Norwich on December 10, the group includes guitarist Denny New-man,
acclaimed keyboard player Max Middleton, bassist Kuma Harada and drummer
Jeff Allen. They will be supported by Norwich band Lot 55.

Taylor said people attending the gig could expect a great night. "We do some
original songs and a few cover songs and we sometimes even play a couple of
the Rolling Stones songs that I am associated with," he said. "I don't think
I have ever played in Norwich before, so I am really looking forward to it."

Mick Taylor & His Band play the Waterfront in Norwich on December 10 at
7.30pm. Tickets cost £12.50 in advance from the box office on 01603 508050,
www.ueaticket bookings.co.uk and Soundclash in St Benedict's Street.

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