Friends, fans mourn Koko Taylor

June 13, 2009 1:36:24 PM PDT
Chicago bid goodbye on Friday night to blues legend Koko Taylor. Singers at her funeral celebrated her life with the music she made famous.

Koko Taylor died last week following complications from surgery. She was 80 years old.

And while she wasn't scheduled to play the blues fest this year, she's getting star billing. A big card featuring her picture has been set up for fans to sign.

The son of Blues legend Howlin' Wolf was moved to song as he remembered Koko Taylor on Friday night. Her husband Hays and daughter Cookie led a large group of family into the auditorium at Rainbow/PUSH headquarters to say goodbye. But inside it was more like a celebration and a concert with performances by Koko Taylor's contemporaries and those she inspired like Shamekia Copeland.

They remember her not only as a giant in the music industry but as the daughter of sharecroppers who rose from humble beginnings to world wide fame. Yet, she was a woman who remained full of kindness and humility.

"The whole time I knew Koko which was was well over 40 years I never heard her say a bad word about anybody," said Frank Pellegrino, friend

Friends and admirers come from all over to say goodbye.

"There are blues performers that are younger and still out there but can they do what she did?" said Jeff Dale, Los Angeles musician.

Koko Taylor was discovered by blues legend Willie Dixon in the early 1960's. His widow Marie recalled how he convinced her to sing what would become her signature song, "Wang dang doodle."

"She said...what kind of song is this? He said just sing the song, Koko," said Marie Dixon, friend.

And she would sing it for the rest of her career until her last public performance in March in Memphis. They sang it Friday night in her memory.

She was known as the "Queen of the Blues" and the blues were her life. For those that knew and loved her, Koko Taylor brought nothing but joy.


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