Main St. And Far Beyond: The Lyrical Guitar Of Mick Taylor

Celebrating a man who was part of a golden period for the Rolling Stones, and far more besides.

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Mick Taylor - Photo: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns
Photo: Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns

Mick Taylor, born in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, on January 17, 1949, became one of Britain’s finest guitarists. His return in 2012 as a guest at concerts in London and New York on 50 & Counting, the 50th anniversary tour by the Rolling Stones, won him the respect of a new generation. Here’s our custom playlist of some of his finest work.

During those performances with the group that made him world-famous, the softly-spoken virtuoso showed that he still had plenty of the dexterity that won him the job of replacing Brian Jones in the band in 1969. That was not, of course, the first time that Taylor had taken on a high-pressure role as a young musician.

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In 1967, he had basically talked and played his way into the ranks of John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, of whom he was a fan. Here, he found himself replacing Peter Green in this famous training ground for great British guitar players.

Mayall was in lighthearted mood about the Bluesbreakers’ line-ups, and Taylor’s new membership in the group, when he spoke to Melody Maker in 1967. “With all the changes, we are thinking of calling the band John Mayall and the Faceless Five,” he said. “And we’ll wear rubber masks of all the previous Bluesbreakers. Mick can put on an Eric Clapton mask and Keef [Hartley] can wear a Hughie Flint mask. Then perhaps people will recognize us.”

Live With Me (Remastered 2019)

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Taylor honed his reputation with Mayall for two years, before getting that fateful call from the Stones. He left the Bluesbreakers at the end of a long American tour and made his first appearance with the rock giants in the most public circumstances possible, at their free Hyde Park concert in the summer of 1969.

Many observers consider Taylor to be the most technically expert musician ever to play with the band, and regret that his tenure did not last longer than five years. But he was part of what was undoubtedly a golden period for the Stones as a recording and live force, especially with Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, and Exile On Main St. He was also a key part of Goats Head Soup and 1974’s It’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll, before choosing to leave.

Taylor’s subsequent work included varied collaborations and contributions, both on disc and on stage, with Mike Oldfield, Jack Bruce, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Alvin Lee, Little Feat, and many others, as well as on records of his own. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones in 1989.

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Charlie Watts, speaking in 2013, was hugely complimentary about what Taylor brought to the group. “Mick Taylor was a good choice, because he lifted the band tremendously,” he said. “He probably didn’t know it at the time, but he did. He got lovely songs to play on from Mick and Keith. It was a great writing period, the most musical period of ours, which I think was down to Mick Taylor, the way he played. He was a very lyrical player.”

Listen to the best of the Rolling Stones on Apple Music and Spotify.




  1. Butch Alano

    January 18, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    totally agree….i have always said and believed that the pinnacle of the Stones music was what i called the ‘Triple Whammy’….’Let It Bleed’, ‘Sticky Fingers’, and the mother of all, ‘Exile On Main Street’…all my vinyls of these classics were played to death…

    • Gren Matta

      January 18, 2019 at 11:02 am

      And the best live album, bar none, “Get Yer YaYa’s Out”

  2. Ted Hofland

    January 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Congrats to Mick,one of the finest guitarists.I did`nt find his period with the RollingStones very interesting .I love his playings with john Mayall, great solos all around,and my favorit solo is “Start walking”.Fantastic !

    • Rod

      April 16, 2015 at 6:40 pm

      Totally agree mate. The guy was brilliant!!

  3. John Bean

    January 17, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    wtf @Jack Bruce. #addendum plz.

  4. Jakeyboyo

    January 17, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    I was given a cd of Mick and Snowy White live, and its absolutely Brilliant, some of the finest guitar work you will ever hear From 2 true masters of the Guitar

  5. Arthur Emilio

    January 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Curly is not with Peter Green?

    • Jorge

      January 20, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Peter Green is the man.

    • Greg

      October 30, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      I believe Peter Green does play on Curly.

  6. Tom Le Page

    January 18, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    I remember being in a support blues band when we played with John Mayall in Glasgow I think it was one of Mick Taylors earliest appearances with Mayall wonderful night…with John Hinesman on drums ,( I think if I remember Dick Henshall- Smith as well

  7. Jan Athmer

    January 19, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    I agree totally with Charlie Watts. I think his work with the Stones was absolutely brilliant. He added a lot to the sound of the Stones during their most succesful period. During the Stones tours in recent years he proved that he’s still a great great guitarist. For me the absolute highlight of their 2012-2014 shows was Mick Taylor’s contribution during Midnight Rambler.

  8. Norman Burke

    January 20, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    .The Rolling Stones for me remain the pinacle of Rock in the UK and beyond.

  9. Jukka Selin

    January 17, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I have throught that it is Peter Green playing guitar on “Curly”.

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