Larry Taylor, longtime bassist of boogie rock act and original Woodstock performers Canned Heat, has died at the age of 77. The band’s manager and one-time producer, Skip Taylor, confirmed on Canned Heat’s Facebook that Taylor died Monday, August 19th at his home in Lake Balboa, California after a 12-year battle with cancer.
Taylor, known by his nickname “The Mole,” joined Canned Heat in 1967, two years after the band’s formation, and helped form what most fans and critics consider their “classic lineup” through 1970. That group played at the 1969 Woodstock Festival and 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, recording a mixture of originals (including their flute-tinged hit “Going Up the Country”) and blues covers in the studio.
Taylor was born June 26th, 1942 in New York. He began his career as a teenager, touring with Jerry Lee Lewis; he then became a regular studio bassist for the Monkees, appearing on many of the group’s albums, including their self-titled 1966 debut (which features the hit “Last Train to Clarksville” and “(Theme From) The Monkees”).
Prior to joining Canned Heat, he worked as a session musician for artists like Albert King, Solomon Burke, Buddy Guy, JJ Cale, Ry Cooder, Harvey Mandel and Charlie Musselwhite, according to the Facebook statement. His discography also includes sessions with John Lee Hooker, John Mayall, John Hammond Jr. and Tom Waits (including his acclaimed records Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs). Onstage, he was a fixture in Waits’ touring band on upright bass.
Taylor rejoined Canned Heat numerous times over the years, most recently in 2010. The band — which now features drummer Adolfo “Fito” de la Parra as its lone surviving member from the Sixties era — was originally set to perform at Woodstock 50 before the festival’s recent collapse.
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“Larry told great stories, funny jokes, was a foodie, wine, record, and rock poster collector, computer whiz and a special human being who really ‘lived for music,'” Skip Taylor wrote in a statement. “Music was his religion! He influenced many of us in different ways and he will be missed by many throughout the music industry. Condolences to his wife, Andrea, his son Danny and his two daughters, Rebecca and Molly.”