June 4, 2009 / 12:10 AM / 9 years ago

"Wang Dang Doodle" blues singer Koko Taylor dies

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Grammy-winning blues singer Koko Taylor, the “Queen of the Blues” who belted out her signature hit, “Wang Dang Doodle,” at hundreds of concerts, died on Wednesday, her record label said.

Taylor, 80, died in a Chicago hospital following intestinal surgery, a statement from Alligator Records said.

Born on a farm near Memphis, Tennessee, in 1928, and nicknamed Koko because of her taste for chocolate, she and her five brothers and sisters often accompanied themselves on homemade instruments.

Taylor came to Chicago with future husband Robert “Pops” Taylor in 1952 with nothing but “thirty-five cents and a box of Ritz Crackers,” she once said.

At first, she cleaned houses while soaking up Chicago’s rich blues scene, and then sat in with area blues bands. Discovered by impresario and blues artist Willie Dixon in 1962, Taylor signed with the famed Chess Records label that recorded “Wang Dang Doodle,” written by Dixon.

She traveled from Chicago’s club circuit to concert halls around the world, performing with blues legends Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King and Buddy Guy. After Chess Records went out of business, she began recording in the mid-1970s for Alligator Records in Chicago.

She shared a Grammy Award for best traditional blues recording in 1984 for the compilation album “Blues Explosion, and received several more nominations.

Her near-constant touring schedule came to a halt in 2003 when she suffered a heart attack and fell into a four-week-long coma. She resumed performing the following year and performed for the last time May 7 in Memphis at the Blues Music Awards.

Writing by Andrew Stern; Editing by Peter Cooney

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