Bobby Taylor was born in
and raised in the
. As a young man, he moved to
New York City
, and sung in
groups with members who later joined successful acts such as
Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers
Little Anthony & the Imperials
. He began his musical career as a member of a group known as The Four Pharaohs in 1958, who recorded a few locally-selling sides in the Vancouver area. In the early 1960s, Taylor met a group called The Calgary Shades, made up of vocalist Tommy Melton, guitarist
, bassist Wes Henderson, and drummer Floyd Sneed. Chong was later famous as one-half of comedy duo
Cheech and Chong.
When Tommy Melton joined the group as lead vocalist and producer, it became Little Daddy & The Bachelors. Little Daddy & The Bachelors moved to
San Francisco, California
and built up a small following, Returning to Vancouver, the group began regularly changing its name before taking on the Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers moniker. The band briefly featured future star guitarist
, whose father and grandparents were from
Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers join Motown
heard the band, whose repertoire consisted primarily of
covers, at the Elegant Parlor in Vancouver, and alerted them to the attention of Motown CEO
Berry Gordy, Jr.
Gordy brought the Vancouvers to Motown Records in
, and signed them to his Gordy Records imprint. The group recorded its debut album, and their debut single, the Tommy Chong co-composition "Does Your Mama Know About Me", peaked at number 29 on the
Billboard Hot 100
For a July 1968 engagement at
's Regal Theater, Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers had a local-area family band,
The Jackson 5
, as their opening act. Impressed with the children, Taylor personally brought them to Detroit and the Motown offices, arranging an audition for them with Motown executive
Suzanne de Passe
. de Passe and Berry Gordy were impressed with the Jacksons, and the group was signed to the label within a year.
However, Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers' own success did not extend beyond "Does Your Mama Know About Me", and ended performing in support of Motown artist
. Tommy Chong and Wes Henderson were fired by Clark and Motown producer
for missing a gig to apply for
. The group broke up shortly afterwards, when Chong attempted to have the Vancouvers' contract halved, so that he, Taylor, and Henderson would constitute the group, while Robbie King and Ted Lewis would simply be regarded as sidemen and session artists. Taylor auditioned for the then-vacant lead singer position in
's expulsion from the group), but was turned down.
Taylor on his own
Upon the Jackson 5's signing to Motown in March 1969, Taylor would become the group's first producer, recording them on a number of soul
including their famous rendition of
Who's Lovin' You
". Berry Gordy would later move the group to
and take personal control of their sound; although
Taylor would briefly join the Jacksons in California, he did not receive credit for working on the group's early singles such as "
I Want You Back
" and "
As a solo artist, Taylor was shifted to Motown's V.I.P. label and continued as a solo artist. Although his "Oh, I've Been Blessed" later attained a cult status, it and Taylor's other solo singles failed to sell well. By 1971, Taylor had departed Motown, and recorded sporadically into the mid-1970s.
Bobby has continued performing and is currently touring in China.