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Canned Heat bassist Larry Taylor dead at 77

Larry Taylor onstage with Canned Heat in 2010
(Image credit: Marc Marnie/Redferns - Getty)

Bassist Larry ‘The Mole’ Taylor, known for his work with artists including Canned Heat, The Monkees, John Mayall and Tom Waits, has died at the age of 77.

The news was confirmed by his friend and Canned Heat’s manager Skip Taylor, who reports that Taylor died at home in Lake Balboa, California, on Monday after battling cancer for the last 12 years.

Taylor played with the original Canned Heat lineup with Alan Wilson, Bob Hite, Henry Vestine and ‘Fito’ de la Parra and was with the band for their appearances at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and Woodstock in 1969.

He began his career as a teenager when he toured with Jerry Lee Lewis and, along with his work with Canned Heat, Taylor was an accomplished session musician and played on albums by artists including The Monkees, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Charlie Musselwhite, JJ Cale, Ry Cooder and Harvey Mandel. 

He went on to record with John Mayall, Tom Waits, John Lee Hooker, John Hammond Jr and Kim Wilson and others and also formed the Hollywood Fats Band with Mike Mann. 

Skip says: “Larry told great stories, funny jokes, was a foodie, wine, record, and rock poster collector, computer whizz and a special human being who really ‘lived for music – music was his religion!’ 

“He influenced many of us in different ways and he will be missed by many throughout the music industry.”

Speaking with Blues Junction Productions in 2016, Taylor reflected on how he started playing bass.

One night I was at the Sea Witch and there was this long haired guy named Wesley Reynolds playing," he said. "When I got to the gig there was an electric bass leaning up against an amp. 

“On the break I asked him if I could pick up that bass and play it during the next set. As it turned out the regular bass player on the gig had some sort of health issues and couldn’t make it. 

“At the end of the night he asked me if I could come back the next night. I did and that’s how I got my first gig.”

Taylor is survived by his wife, Andrea, son Danny and his two daughters, Rebecca and Molly.