Discovered for Motown purposes by Supremes gals Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, who heard the band running through fine versions of their label staples, Berry Gordy whisked them from British Columbia to Detroit. They repaid that favor a million fold when Taylor was impressed with their support act the Jackson 5 and brought them to Motown’s attention.
- First Hit: “Does Your Mother Know About Me”
- Biggest Hit: “Malinda”
- Top Album: Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers
- Career Highlight: Bobby’s solo debut for the Gordy imprint, Taylor Made Soul
- This American/Canadian outfit comprised lead vocalist Taylor, future comic superstar Tommy Chong (guitar), Wes Henderson (bass), Robbie King (keyboards), Eddie Patterson (guitar) and Ted Lewis (drums).
- Given a strong background in doo-wop and close harmony, Taylor was reportedly persuaded to audition for the Temptations’ lead vocal seat when David Ruffin quit. He didn’t get the gig, but persevered with Motown until 1971.
- Taylor’s star remained high enough for him to work with the Jackson 5 on their first Motown sessions in Detroit, before they were whisked away to California. He produced six tracks on their 1969 debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. These included Michael’s astonishingly soulful take of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” which remains one of the Jacksons’ most revered and influential recordings.
- With the New Vancouvers, Taylor relocated to the U.K., recording for Ian Levine’s Motorcity Records. An exponent of what he calls ‘the happy blues’, the evidence is in the grooves.