If It Is to Be As It Is
NOTES AND QUOTES Born in Houston, Texas, Shannon Taylor performed in many bands during his early years. He began writing songs and playing piano in groups at age 12. 'At school, I would always go to the auditorium at the end of the day to bang on the grand piano. The people I admired the most were The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and I learned all of their songs. I still believe they were the best.' After finishing high school, Shannon got a job sorting mail at the local post office. With money in his pocket, he realized he could afford to buy a Mellotron, a rare and expensive keyboard he'd been lusting after. 'I bought a Mellotron before I bought my first car. That's how important it was to me. I'd heard the Mellotron on Their Satanic Majesties Request (Rolling Stones) and In The Court Of The Crimson King (King Crimson) and I knew I wanted to be making that sound! And I've been making it ever since.' The post office job played out after a couple of years and he turned to music for his income. 'I started getting a lot of session work because I was the only guy within 1000 miles who owned a Mellotron.' In addition to working in various studios over the years, Shannon had a succession of groups to play his songs, mainly around the Houston area. By this time he had two sons, David and Eric. When he wasn't playing gigs or working a day job as a painter, he was busy being a father. In 1985, Shannon formed The Reason with his brother Kerry on bass, cousin Kip Millwee on guitar and friend Yiannis Efstathiou on drums. They played their own music, mostly written by Shannon, and gained local popularity in and around Houston. 'We were a good band. Our sound was driving and experimental.' In early 1987, Shannon decided to stop performing and focus instead on songwriting and recording. This decision was due primarily to his developing multiple sclerosis, a disorder of the central nervous system. 'Suddenly, I wasn't getting around as well as I always had been. I was forced to quit working and driving, so I stayed home all the time and just wrote songs. I put together a studio and recorded my songs for no other reason than the fact that I enjoyed doing it.' Shannon recorded a 4-song EP during the summer of 1987, and released it in the autumn of that year. 'It was more or less a collaboration between Kip Millwee and myself. He played all the guitars and bass. I've always had an excellent musical rapport with Kip. He's such a great player; I've learned a lot from him.' As time went on, Shannon's songwriting matured and his home studio developed into a viable project studio. He began taking on clients to sharpen his engineering and producing skills. Meanwhile, work continued on his own songs. 'I started working with Danny Kristensen, a terrific guitar player, in 1993. We found that we shared common ground musically and became good friends. We've done a lot of recording together over the years.' In 1997, Shannon's eldest son, David, was tragically killed in a freak automobile/pedestrian accident at age 21. 'Compounding all of this was the fact that David was nearly killed just three years earlier. He was shot in the face with a shotgun in a random shooting by an 18-year-old. He recovered and adjusted quite well, only to be taken away so suddenly three years later.' 'Working on my songs played a huge part in getting me through these crushing times. The whole process was very cathartic. The writing, the recording . . . there's so much to focus on.' His brothers, Ashton and Kerry, contributed tasteful guitar tracks to his recordings. 'Kerry plays a nice bluesy, rockabilly style, while Ashton is a great acoustic and flamenco player. They've both recorded a lot of their own songs in my studio, as well. It means a lot to me that we've made good music together.' In 2005, Shannon completed work on a CD entitled if it is to be as it is. Featuring the guitarists he'd worked with in the past, along with other musician friends, the recording is a compelling collection of his songs. 'Six of them I sing and they're somewhat personal in nature. The other three are instrumentals. I've always enjoyed composing instrumental pieces. I imagine that they could be soundtracks for movies. The CD has a lot of acoustic guitar and plenty of Mellotron, too.' Planned for 2007 is a CD of unreleased recordings by Shannon Taylor.