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Famed singer Sam Taylor, 74, of Islandia dies

Sam "The Bluzman" Taylor, the singer-songwriter and guitarist whose music has been recorded by everyone from Elvis Presley and Son Seals to DMX and EPMD, died Monday at his home in Islandia of complications associated with heart disease. He was 74.

One of the first inductees into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2006 and an inductee into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1995, Taylor built a stellar reputation in blues and R&B over nearly five decades of work, as a solo performer and as a guitarist with Otis Redding, The Isley Brothers, and Sam and Dave.

"He was one of the last of the great bluesmen," said his friend Richard L'Hommedieu, co-founder of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. "He's created decades of wonderful music. It's a great loss."

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Taylor was part of Joey Dee & The Starlighters when they had their hit "Peppermint Twist" in 1962 and when he left the group, he recommended that a young guitarist named Jimmy James, later known as Jimi Hendrix, be his replacement. He worked with B.T. Express when they had their string of No. 1 R&B hits "Do It (Til You're Satisfied)" and "Express" in 1974 and 1975.

But Taylor was best known for his own blues work - more than 12 albums, including "I Came from Dirt" and 2004's "Voice of the Blues" - and his regular appearances at Long Island blues clubs.

Vic Calabro was looking forward to Taylor singing at his 53rd birthday party at Bobbique's in Patchogue on Wednesday night. Though Taylor had been ill for several months, he had been doing well enough in recent weeks that he planned to perform on Wednesday, said Calabro, who now plans to make his party into a memorial.

"He was a great man," Calabro said. "He lived a great life and he just loved making people happy with his music."

For Taylor, one of his career moments that made him happiest was his induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. "So many Long Island musicians have said they were from New York instead of Long Island because they thought it helped them," Taylor said that night. "I've been saying I've been from Long Island since 1955. I'm so proud to be here. It's giving me goosebumps just thinking about it."

Taylor is survived by three daughters, Sandra Taylor, Daionae Sparks, and Donna Brown, and a son, Kevin Taylor; 13 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Funeral services were pending.

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