April 27, 2004

Shooby Taylor 1929 -2003
(Originally aired 2nd Sept 2003)

William "Shooby" Taylor was, quite possibly, the weirdest vocalist ever to have lived. A scat singer, who remained largely unknown throughout his 40 year career, Shooby took this already unusual singing style to mind-boggling extremes. In an effort to express the joyously unhinged music in his head, he concocted a baroque vocabulary of raw-shaws, tweeding-das and sidily doot-in-doot splaws, and used it to scat manically over anything from the Ink Spots to Johnny Cash to "Over The Rainbow".

He only became known to the wider world in the early 90's when an electrician at the NJ radio station WFMU played a copy of his only album, Human Horn (recorded in the 80's), to resident DJ, Irwin Chusid. By this time, however, ailing health had brought his performing career to an end. (He was even forced to turn down an appearance on The David Letterman Show in 1995.) He finally passed away in June 2003.

(Postscript: Despite the cult following he acquired in the last years of his life, there are still no plans to re-issue the impossible-to-find Human Horn. In the meantime, the only way to experience Shooby is by either buying the Songs In The Key Of Z CDs (which I wholeheartedly recommend) or downloading mp3s of his work from shooby.com.)

Posted by Warren at April 27, 2004 10:38 PM | Outsider