Jesse Taylor RIP

One of the best passed on a couple weeks ago. Jesse Taylor of Lubbock and Austin was a Texas original and a real soulful cat to boot. His precise comments steal the show from even Tommy Hancock in the film Lubbock Lights, now available on DVD and he was the heart and soul of the original Joe Ely Band which blew out of West Texas in the mid 1970s and in my mind was one of the best rock ensembles I've ever heard.

Below are a couple of obituaries and testimonials/ From the Austin American-Statesman

By Michael Corcoran


Thursday, March 09, 2006

In a town full of guitar players, he was the most ferocious. Lubbock-born Jesse "Guitar" Taylor, who came to prominence in the Joe Ely Band that toured with the Clash in the late '70s, earned his nickname by playing every solo as if the notes were shooting through him. Offstage, the tattooed gentle giant was one of the most good-hearted people you could meet.

Taylor passed away Tuesday evening at his home from complications of hepatitus C and cirrhosis. He was 55.

Jay Janner

(enlarge photo)
Jesse 'Guitar' Taylor works on his drawings at his Austin home on Monday Feb 13, 2006.

Jay Janner

(enlarge photo)
Jesse 'Guitar' Taylor plays his acoustic guitar while taking a break from working on his drawings at his Austin home on Monday Feb 13, 2006.

Jesse Taylor
"Don't Give Up"
Windows Media | Real
Jesse Taylor
"On The Banks Of the Ponchatrain"
Windows Media | Real
Jesse Taylor
"Sack O' Woe"
Windows Media | Real

Past Coverage
Guitarist Jesse Taylor always pushed the limits; he still does

"When Jesse joined the band in 1975, his playing took us to a whole new level," Joe Ely said from California, where he's on tour. The Clash's Joe Strummer loved Jesse. "Keith Richards had us open some (Rolling Stones) shows because he was such a fan of Jesse's. Bonnie Raitt tried to get Jesse to join her band."

But Taylor stayed in Austin, where he backed Billy Joe Shaver and the Flatlanders in recent years.

He earned a place in Lubbock lore by being the first white musician to play at the original Stubb's BBQ. Owner C.B. Stubblefield had picked up Taylor hitchhiking and told the kid he had a chopped beef sandwich with his name on it at his barbecue joint. The Sunday jam sessions Taylor started were a prime incubator for the Lubbock music scene. Stevie Ray Vaughan would come up from Austin to sit in.

"Whether I was watching Jesse as a fan or when he was in my band, his playing mystified me," said Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who had known the guitarist since Taylor was a 15-year-old in Gilmore's first group, the T. Nickel House Band in Lubbock. "The intensity of Jesse's enthusiasm for the music was contagious."

A former Golden Gloves boxer, Taylor was known as a guy you didn't want to mess with. But Ely said in all his years touring and recording with Taylor "we never had a single argument. Jesse was just a total sweetheart."

On one New Year's Eve show in Lubbock in the '70s, Taylor's rough side came out when members of the Banditos biker gang were lighting firecrackers during the Joe Ely Band's set. "The leader of the gang set off a string of Black Cats right at Jesse's feet and Jesse just calmly put down his guitar and challenged the guy to a fight on the dance floor," Ely recalled. "Well, Jesse laid the guy out with one right hook."

Taylor is better known as a humble soul who let his guitar do his fiercest talking.

He is survived by his daughters, Chelsea, Nicole and Carrie, two grandsons and girlfriend Kim Stewart. Funeral arrangements are pending.

From KCBD-TV Lubbock:
Guitar Legend Jesse Taylor Laid to Rest in Lubbock

The man who earned his place in Hub City history by being the first white musician to play at the original Stubb's BBQ was laid to rest Saturday.

Jesse "Guitar" Taylor died Tuesday in Austin from complications of Hepatitis C.

The 55-year-old was the lead guitarist for the Joe Ely band in the 1970's and 80's becoming a music legend and an inspiration.

"He inspired so many young musicians to play guitar that its amazing you can tell today how many people he had impacted," said long-time friend and band mate Jimmy Dale Gilmore, who had known the guitarist since Taylor was a 15-year-old in Gilmore's first group, the T. Nickel House Band in Lubbock.

Taylor was buried at Resthaven Saturday. Friends say the former Golden Gloves Boxer was a tattooed gentle giant, and one of the most good-hearted people you could meet.

Jesse Taylor loved playing guitar so much it became his middle name. Jesse, who passed away at his home in Austin Tuesday at 55, first heard an electric guitar blaring from a garage band in Lubbock. Jesse 'Guitar' Taylor set out to make his life being a rock 'n' roll musician, and to the lasting enrichment of Austin and Lubbock and many points in between, he managed it with the grace of his upbringing and an uproarious roadhouse style.

Jesse had some wild hairs. He once walked out of an Austin beer joint during a band break and hopped a freight, just because he missed riding the rails. He jumped off the Congress Avenue bridge one night and surfaced in Town Lake with the realization, well now, that shore there is a pretty fair swim. The goatee and tattooed forearms and booted swagger were part of his statement. But when health slowed him down, he proved himself a gifted painter. Within all that was the heart of one of the world's kindest men. Born April 10, 1950, Jesse was raised in Lubbock by a remarkable mother,

Martha Fain. She came from a family of Czech cotton farmers. He spent summers on the farms of his uncles, who at their dinner tables spoke the language of the old country.

Jesse's friends growing up were a constellation of talent Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock, John X. Reed, Ponty Bone, Loyd Maines, and T.J. McFarland.

In 1967 Jesse joined the band of another Lubbock contemporary, Angela Strehli, and they headlined with rhythm and blues shows at the Vulcan Gas Company and in holes-in-the-wall on the east side. He was bouncing between Austin, California, Colorado, and back to Lubbock. He hitchhiked to get around, and one day a black man in a Cadillac picked him up. His name was C.B. "Stubb" Stubblefield. He parked the car in front of a barbecue joint and said, "Well, this is where I'm going." Jesse said he'd always wanted to go in that place. "I'll tell you what," said Stubb. "I got a barbecue sandwich and a cold beer that's got your name on it." Which led to the storied jams that Jesse organized on Sunday afternoons, and in the general migration of those years, brought the institution of Stubb's Barbecue and music to Austin. Jesse was the guitarist in Joe Ely's band from 1975 to 1982. Bonnie Raitt tried to hire him away, but Texas was where his loves and friendships and children were. He toured with Billy Joe Shaver and Kinky Friedman and, with his old friend John X. Reed, he recorded South Side Guitar in 2001. Jesse knew he was ailing by then, but the lead instrumental he composed was as rowdy and inspired as ever. The piece was called "Don't Give Up." Jesse is survived by his sister Kathy Taylor and brother Timothy Fain; his daughters Nicole Taylor, Chelsea Taylor, and Carrie Young; his niece Cara Fain; his grandsons Taylor Peterkin and Lucas Butler; and his loving partner Kim Elaine Stewart.

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday March 11, 2006 in the Resthaven Abbey Chapel on W. 19th St., Lubbock, Tex.

Anyone wishing to help defray funeral expenses may send contributions to Kathy Taylor, 912 Koerner Lane, Austin, TX 78721.

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