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    Taylor, Chip

    Singer-songwriter from New York whose given name was James Wesley Voight.  His brothers are Barry Voight, a geologist, and Jon Voight, an actor, and his niece is actress Angelina Jolie. 

     

    Chip grew up listening to WWVA-AM, a country station in Wheeling, West Virginia, which captured his imagination early on and influenced his eventual career choice of songwriter.  While still in high school, he was the front-man for a band called Town and Country Brothers, who are noteworthy for having been the only white band on the otherwise all-black King label. 

     

    The band broke up and Chip pursued one of his other loves:  golf.  He was a top-ranked player as a teenager and enjoyed moderate success on the professional circuit until injuring his wrist.   It must not have been his writing hand, however, because he started cranking out songs with a rapidity that endeared him to the Brill Building and CBS Blackwood. 

     

    He initially signed on at Warner Bros. and managed to crack the top 100 in 1961 with “Here I Am”.  It turned out to be a prophetic statement.  Chet Atkins heard some of his stuff and helped him break into Nashville when Bobby Bare recorded one of his songs, “Just a Little Bit Later on Down the Line”.  Chip’s composing knew no genre, however.  One of his biggest hits is the frat-rock staple, “Wild Thing”, made famous by The Troggs in 1966.  In 1968, Merilee Rush hit it big with his “Angel of the Morning”, later covered by Juice Newton. 

     

    Not content to just be a hit-maker for other artists, Chip struck out on his own in the ‘70s with a series of albums, most notably 1973’s Last Chance, which Rolling Stone lauded as one of the top C&W records of the year.  On 19th September 1974, he appeared on The Mike Douglas Show.  He also made a foray into acting, appearing in Pittsville – Ein Safe voll Blut and Bilans kwartalny, in 1974 and 1975, respectively.  In 1980, he appeared in the critically acclaimed Melvin and Howard. 

     

    Things seemed to be going well, but Chip was getting burnt out, specifically on the incestuous nature of the Nashville music scene.  He decided to hang up his guitar and pursue another one of his long-time passions:  Gambling.  Ever since the 1960s, he had always been a bit of a savant when it came to the law of permutations, particularly as they applied to blackjack.  Chip was extremely successful—too successful, in fact—as his reputation spread, he found himself locked out of most of the big casinos in Atlantic City, Europe, and Las Vegas. 

     

    Fortunately, the world of horse racing was not quite so finicky.  Chip partnered up with Ernie Dahlman and they became two of the most reputable handicappers in the Northeast United States.  These guys were high rollers, frequently picking as many as six consecutive winners on a given day. 

     

    Chip probably could have retired on his winnings, but in 1993, he was lured back onto the stage by fellow composers Rosie Flores, Don Henry, Darden Smith, and Midge Ure.  The tour, coupled with Bonnie Raitt’s cover of one of his songs, “Poppa Come Quick”, re-ignited his passion for making music. 

     

    In 1995, when his mom was suffering from a terrible illness, he eschewed the race track in order to be by her side and play his songs for her.  All of this led to a renewed belief in the power of his songs, and he became very prolific, much as he did on his great run in the ‘70s.  In 1996, he released Hit Man, a baker’s dozen of his own versions of some of his famous compositions.  The highly autobiographical album, The Living Room Tapes, was released in 1997. 

     

    In 1999, perhaps his most ambitious project to date, Seven Days in May, a mini-musical of sorts, hit the shelves.  It is the story of a man who falls for a pregnant woman in a New York bar.  The album featured Chip duetting with Guy Clark and Lucinda Williams. 

     

    In 2001, another career-shaping event took place when Chip found himself captivated by a young violinist named Carrie Rodriguez.  He asked her to go on tour with him in Texas and Europe, where he encouraged her to use her other musical instrument:  Her voice.  So enraptured was the audience with her singing, this opened up a whole new arena for Carrie, who could now be considered a double threat.  Before long, the two of them were in the studio recording an album of duets, Let’s Leave This Town.  They went on to collaborate again on Red Dog Tracks and The Trouble with Humans.  The two of them continue to record together and separately. 

     

    Rap-reggae musician Shaggy inadvertently added a milestone to Chip’s career by using “Angel in the Morning” in his 2001 hit “Angel”, making Chip the only living songwriter to have had hits in five decades.  The bass line of “Angel” was culled from Steve Miller’s “The Joker”, and Chip and Steve are co-credited on the record, which has gone platinum several times over.  Now those are what you might call some big winnings.

     

    Nancy Sinatra recordings

    It’s Such a Lonely Time of Year (Al Gorgoni/Chip Taylor)

     

    Sources:

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cycles_(Sinatra)
    2. http://mog.com/music/Chip_Taylor/Hit_Man
    3. http://cdbaby.com/cd/gadfly220
    4. http://www.txmusicgroup.com/artists/c_taylor.html
    5. http://www.amazon.com/Hit-Man-Chip-Taylor/dp/B00000200Z
    6. http://www.trainwreckrecords.com/chip.html
    7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chip_Taylor

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     



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