Henry Saint Clair Fredericks (born May 17, 1942), who uses the stage name Taj Mahal, is an American blues musician, a self-taught singer-songwriter and film composer who plays the guitar, piano, banjo, and harmonica, among many other instruments. He often incorporates elements of world music into his works and has done much to reshape the definition and scope of blues music over the course of his almost 50-year career by fusing it with nontraditional forms, including sounds from the Caribbean, Africa, and the South Pacific
Taj Mahal, his stage name, came to him in dreams about Gandhi, India, and social tolerance. He started using it in 1959 or 1961 — around the same time he began attending the University of Massachusetts.... In 1964 he moved to Santa Monica, California, and formed Rising Sons with fellow blues rock musician Ry Cooder and Jessie Lee Kincaid, landing a record deal with Columbia Records soon after. An album was never released (though a single was) and the band soon broke up. Mahal stayed with Columbia after the Rising Sons to begin his solo career, releasing the self-titled Taj Mahal in 1968, The Natch'l Blues in 1969, and Giant Step/De Old Folks at Home with Kiowa session musician Jesse Ed Davis from Oklahoma, who played guitar and piano (also in 1969). During this time he and Cooder worked with the Rolling Stones, with whom he has performed at various times throughout his career. In 1968, he performed in the film The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. (Read more at Wikipedia)
Links to Peel
Taj Mahal came to Peel's attention when his first album was issued in the UK in 1968. As part of the CBS label's campaign to promote their newer artists. Mahal's version of Blind Willie McTell's "Statesboro Blues" was included on the popular budget-price Rock Machine Turns You On sampler LP, and Peel was taken with it, as with Mahal's first album in general. The backing musicians included Ry Cooder, who had played on Captain Beefheart's Safe As Milk LP, and Taj Mahal's music at this time had a similar modernised blues feel. He was younger than most blues singers and for a time became a fashionable figure, being invited by the Rolling Stones to perform in the TV film mentioned above.
Peel played tracks from Mahal's subsequent albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but seems to have lost interest in him thereafter - although he did play material by the singer's former band members Ry Cooder and Jesse Ed Davis. However Taj Mahal did retain an audience in the UK, as shown by his winning of a "Special Roots Award" at the Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2001.
Festive Fifty Entries
Other Shows Played
- 19 May 1968: Diving Duck Blues (LP - Taj Mahal) Direction
- 09 June 1968: Everybody's Got To Change Sometime (single) CBS/Direction 58-3547
- 18 September 1968: Six Days On The Road (LP - The Natch'l Blues) CBS/Direction 58-63397
- 13 December 1969: Six Days On The Road (LP - Giant Step/Ole Folks At Home) Direction/CBS 8-66226
- 24 March 1972: Six Days On The Road (LP - Giant Step) Columbia
- 18 April 1972: Oh Susannah (LP – Happy Just To Be Like I Am) CBS
- 13 June 1972: Nobody’s Business But My Own (LP – Big Sur Festival - One Hand Clapping) CBS
- 17 February 1978: The Big Blues (LP - Evolution (The Most Recent)) Warner Bros.
- 11 February 2003: Leaving Trunk (LP - Taj Mahal) Direction