Larry Taylor

Vocalist Larry Taylor spent most of his career on the radio or in the music publishing business. For a few years, however, from 1939 to 1942, he made a name for himself with Charlie Barnet’s orchestra.

Taylor grew up in Greenwood, Delaware, where he learned to sing from his mother, who taught piano and voice. In summer 1934, at 18 years of age, Taylor landed a staff vocalist job at WOR in New York, the flagship radio station for the Mutual network. He worked on various programs over the next three years, including those of Nat Brustloff, Morton Gould, and Ed Fitzgerald. By May 1938, Taylor had his own program on WCAU in Philadelphia, commuting to the station from New York for each day’s show.

In May 1939, Taylor joined Charlie Barnet’s band, where he sang alongside Judy Ellington. During that year, Barnet’s orchestra exploded into the national spotlight, giving Taylor’s career a boost. In November, both he and Ellington were lured away from Barnet by Tommy Reynolds. Taylor, however, was back with Barnet in May 1940, remaining until September, when he left to become featured vocalist on the radio program America Sings, sponsored by Carnation instant milk.

In March 1941, Taylor formed the Reis-Taylor music publishing firm with Herb Reis. He continued to sing, recording with Eddie Duchin that summer. In March 1942, Barnet, in need of a male vocalist for his newly reorganized band, talked Taylor into returning. Taylor stayed until June, when, upon learning that his wife, former vocalist Jane Williams, was expecting, he quit Barnet and returned to the music publishing world, saying he was tired of one-nighters.

Reports in Down Beat of Taylor’s death from pneumonia at Fort Benning, Georgia, in March 1943 were greatly exaggerated.[1] Taylor was in New York at the time, where he had joined the new Dorsey Bros. publishing house in October 1942. He left the Dorsey firm in October 1943 for Martin Block’s publishing business. He continued working in different music publishing houses throughout the rest of the decade, living in Chicago in the mid-1940s and returning to New York in 1949. In 1950, Taylor was back in Chicago, where he worked as a pianist and arranger at radio station WBBM.[2]


  1. Down Beat had been told by a source in September 1942 that Larry Taylor, “ex-Barnet vocalist,” was singing in a band at Fort Benning. This particular Larry Taylor was identified as a trombonist, which clearly isn’t Barnet’s Taylor. The magazine never carried a retraction. ↩︎

  2. Taylor was said to be 18 years of age in early summer 1934 and 25 years old in a September 1940 issue of Down Beat, giving him a probable birth date in summer 1915. ↩︎


  1. “Radio Programs.” Greenfield Daily Recorder-Gazette [Greenfield, Massachusetts] 26 Jul. 1934: 9.
  2. Dixon, Peter. “Inside the Studios.” San Antonio Express 2 Sep. 1934: D-3.
  3. Franken, Jerry. “Air Briefs.” Billboard 16 Feb. 1935: 11.
  4. “Air Briefs.” Billboard 4 May 1935: 11.
  5. “Club Chatter.” Billboard 18 Apr. 1936: 12.
  6. “Program Reviews.” Billboard 1 Aug. 1936: 9.
  7. “Air Briefs.” Billboard 24 Oct. 1936: 10.
  8. Canfield, Homer. “On the Other Side of the Microphone.” Santa Ana Daily Register [Santa Ana, California] 29 Apr. 1937: 6.
  9. “Radio Programs.” Billboard 17 May 1938: 12.
  10. “From All Around.” Billboard 14 Jan. 1939: 9.
  11. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 2 Dec. 1939: 20.
  12. Flynn, Ed. “New York News.” Down Beat 15 May 1940: 20.
  13. Toll, Ted. “Who's Who in Music: Charlie Barnet's Band.” Down Beat 1 Aug. 1940: 12.
  14. “Advertisers, Agencies, Stations.” Billboard 28 Sep. 1940: 6.
  15. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 28 Sep. 1940: 10.
  16. “Taylor leaves Barnet.” Down Beat 15 Oct. 1940: 3.
  17. “Fall Program Reviews: America Sings.” Billboard 26 Oct. 1940: 7.
  18. Spelvin, George. “Broadway Beat.” Billboard 22 Mar. 1941: 4.
  19. “Music Items.” Billboard 6 Dec. 1941: 11.
  20. “L. Taylor Out of Pub Biz.” Billboard 21 Mar. 1942: 20.
  21. “Music Items.” Billboard 4 Apr. 1942: 25.
  22. “Larry Taylor Quits Barnet Band Again.” Down Beat 15 Jun. 1942: 16.
  23. “Ravings at Reveille.” Down Beat 1 Oct. 1942: 19.
  24. “Dorsey's First Tune.” Billboard 3 Oct. 1942: 21.
  25. “Larry Taylor Dies.” Down Beat 1 Apr. 1943: 21.
  26. “Martin Block's 2 Publishing Firms Are Active Again.” Billboard 20 Oct. 1943: 13.
  27. “Along Melody Row.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1943: 12.
  28. “Along Melody Row.” Down Beat 1 May 1944: 9.
  29. “New Numbers.” Down Beat 15 Jun. 1944: 10.
  30. “New Numbers.” Down Beat 15 Apr. 1945: 10.
  31. “Shaw, Taylor Signed For Michael Music.” Billboard 27 Aug. 1949: 16.
  32. “New Numbers.” Down Beat 25 Aug. 1950: 10.