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In Case You Missed It, Dallas Taylor Died

(SNN)  A key member of each of two of the most influential and successful groups of the folk-rock era died this week.  Glenn Frey, the founder and co-leader of the Eagles and a familiar name to fans of the era was one. This story is about the other guy.

Dallas Taylor, in the cruel world of rock and roll celebrity is kind of a musical footnote, overlooked and under-appreciated. If he’d been a member of a law firm, instead, where the named partners are the royalty, Taylor would have been the rock solid guy in the corner doing a lot of the work and getting little of the credit.

He was in a band that used four members of the group literally as its name. He was the drummer whose name appeared in smaller letters on the album, under those of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. He played at Woodstock, but then who didn't? He was on seven hit records, but what have you done for us lately?

For years, Taylor was best known in the industry for another reason. He was a notorious drug abuser, that tragic subset of rock and roll where immortality is often achieved by dying young. Curt, Janice, Keith, Jimi are four of the named partners there.  But Taylor did not join them.

How Taylor lasted as long as he did as a drug user surprised many of his fellow musicians. The Who’s late drummer Keith Moon, himself one of the most notorious all time rock druggies, once warned Taylor he was taking too many drugs, according to an excellent remembrance in the LA Times. Taylor outlived Moon by decades.

Taylor died this week at age 66, and in a grand tradition of anonymity, the news broke the same day as the death of Eagles superstar Frey.  Again, Dallas Taylor’s name ended up in small letters at the bottom of the bill.

Taylor indeed had found sobriety decades before his death, but so much damage had been done, even living as long as he did was never guaranteed. Instead of bemoaning his fate, Taylor went out and saved other lost druggies.

After moving to LA in 1990 to cover entertainment news on television, one of the first stories I did was a benefit concert to help pay for the new liver Taylor then needed. His old band got back together to play and raise money for him that night.

I interviewed Taylor, who was enthusiastic, optimistic and had been sober ten years on.  He was a great advocate for second chances and paying it forward.

A few years later I saw him again at another rock benefit, and found out his liver transplant had gone perfectly; he was healthy and working hard to save others from his fate. He was playing again, too. Out of the spotlight, as usual. Living a good life, happy at last. 

Photo Credit: Some Rights Reserved by Piano Piano! flickr photostream. Original photo found here.




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More from John "Cork" Corcoran Jr.



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