Born Walton Alderton, 9 November 1937, near Sandy Spring, Maryland
Vernon Taylor was born into a Baptist farming family, the youngest of four children. In 1948, the family moved to Spencerville, Maryland, where Vernon spent most of his teenage years and learned to play the guitar. His exposure to music was principally through country music on the radio. He mentions Hank Williams and Eddy Arnold as his principal influences. At the age of fifteen he formed his first band (The Nighthawks) with two high school classmates. They performed mostly hillbilly music at local clubs and parties, just for the experience and exposure. By 1956 they were a five- piece band called Vernon Taylor and the Southerners, who played at record hops on Friday nights and had their own radio show at 5:30 on a Saturday morning. From 1957-1960 they were the stars of an hour-long Saturday night TV show on WTTG channel 5 out of Washington, D.C. The show was hosted by Don Owens, a deejay from Arlington, Virginia, who became their manager, and, through his contacts with Mac Wiseman, got Vernon signed to Dot Records in 1957.
Backed by some of Nashville's premier session men, Vernon recorded four tracks on July 5, 1957, which came out on two singles. "Losing Game"/ "I've Got the Blues" (Dot 15632) was issued in August 1957 and received plenty of promotion, which led to a lot of personal appearances (notably with Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins) and even a spot on American Band- stand, but it sold poorly. The second Dot single, released in January 1958, coupled Vernon's self-penned "Why Must You Leave Me" with the Don Owens composition "Satisfaction Guaranteed" (with Floyd Cramer on honky-tonk piano). When this didn't sell either, Dot did not wish to retain him.
But it wasn't long before Taylor could sign a new recording contract. Sam Phillips of Sun Records had seen him on American Bandstand and snapped him up. On October 27, 1958 Vernon recorded the single "Today Is A Blue Day"/"Breeze" (Sun 310). The A-side was a Jack Clement composition which owed more than a little to Don Gibson's "Blue Blue Day". "Breeze" was a # 12 country hit from 1948 by Cowboy Copas, who rerecorded the song in 1957 for Dot. Billboard (November 24, 1958) included Vernon's single among the "Spotlight winners of the week" ; the reviewer called him a "fine new artist with a refreshingly disctinctive style". It didn't help sales much, though. The third track from the first Sun session was "Your Lovin' Man", which wasn't released until 1975, on a French Sun single (601). According to Adam Komorowski, a fourth side was cut, called "Blue Day Tomorrow", and it was presented under that title on the CD "Essential Sun Rockabillies, Vol. 4" (Charly CPCD 8236, 1996). However, this turns out to be "What Would I Do Without You" (see below). A second Sun single (325), laid down on August 15, 1959, was not quite as good as the first one. "Mystery Train" is marred by the obtrusive and superfluous saxophone of Martin Willis. Sometimes less is more. "Sweet and Easy To Love", written and previously recorded by Roy Orbison, is not an easy song to sing and Vernon has obvious trouble keeping time. This single was also released in the UK, on London HLS 9025, unlike the first Sun 45. It must be added, though, that "Today Is A Blue Day"/"Breeze" had been scheduled for release on London HLS 8905, but no less than seven London singles were mysteriously withdrawn in July 1959 (8894, 8896, 8897, 8900, 8905, 8907, 8909). There was one more session, probably in late 1959 or early 1960, at the Fernwood studio, produced by Jack Clement. It seems that these recordings were still made under the Sun contract, though they were not recorded at the Sun studio, as the backing was supplied by Roland Janes, Billy Riley, Charlie Rich and Jimmy Van Eaton. The four songs, "All They Wanna Do Is Stroll", "Dinah Lee" (same song as Charlie Rich's "Donna Lee"), "What Would I Do Without You" and a new version of "Today Is A Blue Day", were eventually issued in 1995 on the Eagle CD mentioned below, including several alternate versions.
In 1960 Vernon decided that a family life was more important than the hectic lifestyle of a full-time musician. He made a career in the printing business and didn't return to performing until 1989, when Billy Poore persuaded him to appear at a benefit concert for Charlie Feathers in his native state of Maryland (Baltimore). Gradually he started working on a comeback career, which brought him to Europe in 1995, 2000 and 2001, and led to new recordings in his old rockabilly style ("Daddy's Rockin'" on the Run Wild label, 1999, and "Now And Then", self-produced, 2000), with Dave Moore as arranger and lead guitarist. At this time of writing (October 2010) Vernon is still active in music.
More info: http://www.rockabillyhall.com/VernonTaylor.html
CD : There's Only One ... Vernon Taylor. Eagle 90120 (Germany). 29 tracks. Complete 1950s recordings, with many alternate takes.
Acknowledgements : Paul G. Kosel (liner notes for the Eagle CD), Jean-Marc Pezet, Hank Davis.
Discography : http://rcs-discography.com/rcs/artist.php?key=tayl7000
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