Canned Heat Bassist Larry Taylor Dead at 77
Canned Heat bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor died at the age of 77 on Aug. 19, a band spokesman confirmed.
The musician, who’d been a member for several stints since 1967, two years after the band formed, died after a 12-year cancer battle at his Lake Balboa, Calif., home.
“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 the music,” his manager Skip Taylor told Billboard. “Music was his religion. He influenced many of us in different ways, and he will be missed by many throughout the music industry.”
Taylor was part of Canned Heat when they made their iconic appearance at Woodstock in 1969. Before that, the New Yorker had done session work for Buddy Guy, Albert King and many others. His career began at the age of 18 as a member of Jerry Lee Lewis’ touring band; he also played bass on several of the Monkees’ hits singles, including the TV show theme and “Last Train to Clarksville.”
Taylor’s introduction to music came from his brother Mel, who was the drummer for the instrumental group the Ventures. “I would go around with my brother, and he was playing guitar back in those days in a bluegrass band,” Taylor told Blues Junction Productions in 2016. “He also played drums and ended up playing drums on a local TV show. I would hang out with him on the set of the TV show. I would go to gigs with him. So that was my first exposure to live music.”
Of his success with Canned Heat he said, “It really had to do with a certain time and place. It was an era which lasted from say about mid ’65 to 1970. There was the Vietnam War that was going on, and that kind of served as a backdrop to everything. There was rebelliousness in America and the music kind of reflected that. Everybody was doing their own thing. People played whatever they wanted to regardless of what others might think. … Canned Heat was in the middle of all of that. We did our thing.”
He noted that he’d been playing more guitar than bass recently. “I’ve been doing this over the last several years," he explained. "Music just keeps going on. It really is not what happened. It is about what is happening. It’s about what is coming next. I’m 74 and am still studying, growing and learning.”