Queen of the Blues Koko Taylor died on June 3 of complications from a recent surgery to repair a gastrointestinal bleed. She was 80 years old.
Taylor underwent surgery to repair the bleed on May 19 and was recovering in a Chicago-area hospital at the time of her death on Wednesday. The acclaimed blues vocalist had undergone a similar gastrointestinal surgery in November 2003, according to her official Web site.
In the days and weeks following her recent surgery, Taylor had been expected to recover in time to continue her 2009 touring season, which was to include a performance with blues guitarist Buddy Guy in November.
“She was recovering slowly but surely, and then she had a real bad night,” Marc Lipkin, a spokesman for Alligator Records, told the Chicago Tribune.
A little over a week before her surgery, Taylor took the stage for the last time on May 7 at the Blues Music Awards. In addition to performing, Taylor accepted her 29th Blues Music title for Traditional Female Blues Artist of the Year. With that victory, she became the winningest performer in the awards ceremony’s history.
Taylor launched her more than 40-year recording career in 1965, when she released her hit single and signature song, “Wang Dang Doodle,” on Chess Records. While she never attained the same mainstream chart success as she had with that song, Taylor continued to draw critical acclaim over the following decades.
“Koko Taylor’s life and music brought joy to millions of people all around the world, and Chicago is especially honored that she called our city her home for more than 50 years,” Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement. Daley had awarded the vocalist with the city’s “Legend of the Year” award on March 3, 1993, declaring it “Koko Taylor Day” in Chicago.
Taylor, born Cora Walton, was born and raised in Tennessee, but moved to Chicago with her husband in 1952. She is survived by her husband, daughter and son-in-law, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.