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Jesse Taylor, February 2006
Jesse Taylor, February 2006 (Photo By John Carrico)


Gone With the West Texas Wind

Jesse Taylor, longtime guitarist for the original Joe Ely Band and an unsung linchpin of the scene dubbed the "Lubbock Mafia," passed away from hepatitis C complications Tuesday evening in South Austin Hospital. He was 55 years old and scheduled to be inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame at Wednesday's Austin Music Awards. Taylor was born and raised in Lubbock, began playing guitar at age 12, and spent part of his youth hopping trains between Lubbock and Venice, Calif. He joined Ely's band in 1976 for an eight-year hitch, a period that saw the group criss-cross the globe and open for the Clash, Tom Petty, and the Rolling Stones. "Musically, he just kicked everybody's ass, but in the kindest, gentlest way," says former Ely drummer and local booking agent Davis McLarty, who met Taylor in 1978. "He was this ferocious player, but he never stepped on anybody. When it was his time to step up, he would just knock it out of the park." Taylor played with numerous other musicians before and after Ely's band, including the T. Nichol House Band in Lubbock, Kracker Jack with alumni of Johnny Winter's band, Terry Allen, Butch Hancock, the Maines Brothers Band, and his own group Tornado Alley. He released a solo album, Last Night, in 1987, and played on numerous other albums including Marcia Ball's Gatorhythms, Jimmie Dale Gilmore's After Awhile, and Kimmie Rhodes' West Texas Heaven. Last April, his many friends organized the "Jessefest" benefit at Threadgill's World Head-quarters, and Taylor sat in with most of the bands on the bill, including Ely, Billie Joe Shaver, Reckless Kelly, and the Texana Dames. "He hung out and played the whole day, and talked about it afterward for weeks and weeks," says McLarty. Taylor is survived by his girlfriend Kim and daughters Nicole, Carrie, and Chelsea. Visitation is 7-9pm tonight (Thursday) at Cook-Walden Funeral Home, 6100 N. Lamar. Funeral services are Saturday at Resthaven in Lubbock.
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