Johnnie Harrison Taylor (May 5, 1934 – May 31, 2000) was an American recording artist and songwriter who performed a wide variety of genres, from blues, rhythm and blues, soul, and gospel to pop, doo-wop, and disco.
Johnnie Taylor was born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas, United States. He grew up in West Memphis, Arkansas, performing in gospel groups as a youngster. As an adult, he had one release, “Somewhere to Lay My Head”, on Chicago‘s Vee Jay Records label in the 1950s, as part of the gospel group Highway QCs, which included a young Sam Cooke. Taylor’s singing then was strikingly close to that of Cooke, and he was hired to take Cooke’s place in the latter’s gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, in 1957.
A few years later, after Cooke had established his independent SAR Records, Taylor signed on as one of the label’s first acts and recorded “Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day” in 1962. However, SAR Records quickly became defunct after Cooke’s death in 1964.
In 1966, Taylor moved to Stax Records in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was dubbed “The Philosopher of Soul”. He recorded with the label’s house band, which included Booker T. & the M.G.’s. His hits included “I Had a Dream”, “I’ve Got to Love Somebody’s Baby” (both written by the team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter) and most notably “Who’s Making Love“, which reached No. 5 on the BillboardHot 100 chart and No. 1 on the R&B chart in 1968. “Who’s Making Love” sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. In 1970, Taylor married Gerlean Rocket and they remained married until his death in 2000.
During his tenure at Stax, he became an R&B star, with over a dozen chart successes, such as “Jody’s Got Your Girl and Gone“, which reached No. 23 on the Hot 100 chart, “Cheaper to Keep Her” (Mack Rice) and record producerDon Davis‘s penned “I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)”, which reached No. 11 on the Hot 100 chart. “I Believe in You (You Believe in Me)” also sold in excess of one million copies, and was awarded gold disc status by the R.I.A.A. in October 1973.
Taylor, along with Isaac Hayes and The Staple Singers, was one of the label’s flagship artists, who were credited for keeping the company afloat in the late 1960s and early 1970s after the death of its biggest star, Otis Redding, in an aviation accident. He appeared in the documentary film, Wattstax, which was released in 1973. Wiki