Bobby Taylor, Soul Singer Who Helped the Jackson 5, Dies

By Mr. Taylor’s account, he was stunned by the Jacksons and especially taken with the lead singer, a child phenomenon named Michael.

“He was singing like James Brown,” Mr. Taylor said on the NBC program “Dateline” after Jackson’s death from a drug overdose in 2009. “He was dancing as well as James Brown.”

Mr. Taylor said that after the show he told Michael and his brothers that he wanted them to audition for Motown in Detroit, where Mr. Taylor lived. He said he then spent several days coaching the group, letting them stay in his apartment before their audition.

Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers – Does Your Mama Know About Me (1968) Video by PilotOfTheAirwaves1

Mr. Taylor was prone to embellishment, his friends and family have said, and others have been credited with discovering the Jackson 5, including Diana Ross. (The title of the group’s 1969 debut album was “Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5.”)

But in a Twitter message after Mr. Taylor’s death, Jermaine Jackson, one of the group’s members, wrote that Mr. Taylor had “put J5 on the path,” and Mr. Gordy himself suggested that it was Mr. Taylor who had guided the band to Motown’s studios.

In his autobiography, “To Be Loved: The Music, the Magic, the Memories of Motown,” Mr. Gordy recalled that he had first heard of the Jackson 5 through his creative assistant, Suzanne de Passe.

“She told me she had first heard about them from Bobby Taylor,” he wrote.

Mr. Gordy signed the Jacksons soon after the audition.

Mr. Taylor helped produce the first Jackson 5 album and worked on their second, “ABC” (1970) before his involvement with the band waned.

Robert Edward Taylor said he was born on Feb. 18, 1934, in Washington, though his daughter said that the year was actually 1939, as Washington census records indicate. She was not sure why her father had added five years to his age, she said.

His mother, the former Ethel Mae Kemp, was a beautician, and his father, Raymond Taylor, left the home when Bobby was young. As a teenager, Bobby moved in with relatives in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from high school there.

An aspiring singer, Mr. Taylor, who had a working…

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