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In-Depth Article on Greg “Fingers” Taylor

March 14th, 2010

The Jackson, Mississippi Clarion-Ledger has an article on Greg “Fingers” Taylor, the legendary harmonica player that toured with Buffett for many years and lent his sounds to some of Jimmy’s most famous songs:

Taylor had taken piano lessons in Kansas, but the blues turned him on to the harmonica. He played both in different bands while at USM, but it soon became clear he had a special relationship with the harmonica. He always kept one stashed in a blue jean pocket.

It came in handy one night in 1973 when Buffett, then a struggling musician who had also attended USM for a while, came to Hattiesburg to play The Hub, a popular bar.

“I’d never seen him before,” Taylor recalls. “I remember he was wearing a 10-gallon hat and had long, long blonde hair. It was just him and his acoustic guitar.”

Buffett had heard about the local dude who could make a harmonica talk. Midway through the show, he invited Taylor to join him for a few tunes.

“We had a good time and I could tell that Jimmy, at some point, was going to do something different and important,” Taylor says. “But at that time, I was a little better off than he was. He had no car. No money. And he needed to get to Mobile to see some girl. He asked me to drive him down there, and I did.”

A year later, when Buffett signed a record deal with ABC/Dunhill and started putting a band together, Taylor was the first musician he called. Buffett added Roger Bartlett on guitar, Harry Dailey on bass, Phillip Fajardo on drums … and away they went.

By 1975, they were opening shows for Linda Ronstadt, Roger McGuinn and Jerry Jeff Walker.

In 1977, Buffett wrote the Caribbean-flavored song Margaritaville, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart.

The tune’s carefree island theme became Buffett’s calling card, and a string of hits followed: Cheeseburger In Paradise; A Pirate Looks at Forty; Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes; and Son of a Son of a Sailor, among others.

After opening for the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Jackson Browne over the next three years, Buffet and the Coral Reefers became headliners in 1981. Except to stop long enough to record an album, they stayed on the road for most of the next eight years.

Read the full article here.

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