Music legend Bobby Taylor has died following a long battle with cancer. He was 83.
Taylor passed away in Hong Kong, where he had been living for the past several years. He was undergoing treatment for leukemia and tumors in his spine when he died.
Taylor was a member of Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, who were signed to Motown boss Berry Gordy‘s Gordy Records label. Tommy Chong was also a member of the Vancouvers. He would go on to find fame with the comedy duo Cheech & Chong.
Taylor is credited with discovering local Gary, Indiana talent The Jackson 5, whom he chose to open for the Vancouvers at a club concert in 1968. He brought them to Motown Records in Chicago in 1968, where they auditioned for Motown executives.
Gordy wasn’t present in the Motown studios that day — he was away in Los Angeles on business. He wasn’t fond of kiddie acts, but Gordy signed the group to Motown on the strength of 10-year-old Michael Jackson‘s talent that shined through on the audition tape.
Initially Gordy assigned Taylor to work with brothers Michael, Jermaine and Jackie Jackson in the Motown recording studios in Chicago (Marlon and Tito stayed back home in Gary, Indiana).
Taylor supervised the boys’ early recordings which were mainly covers of 1960s hits, such as Smokey Robinson & The Miracles’ “Who’s Loving You”.
Taylor is credited with urging young Michael to step out of his brother Jermaine’s shadow and develop his own sound.
“Bobby was a producer, creator and mentor to all of the greats in the early Motown days,” Suzy Michelson, a longtime family friend and fellow producer, told Rolling Stone.