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5 minutes alone - Live's Chad Taylor: “My guitar obsession means I even own my own guitar shop”

(Image credit: Will Ireland / Future )

Live guitarist Chad Taylor talks six-string shocks, shops and an acoustic guitar with its own security detail.

It’s the guitar man...

“I started playing trumpet in elementary school, but one day there was a performance for the school and there were a group of young girls, my peers, all fascinated with the guitar player. I knew at that point, ‘I want to be that guy...’. No one was talking about the trumpet player. Then the physical form of the guitar looked like a fascinating thing to me. The curves, the shape of it, the build, and all these years later, I think I’m still obsessed with that.”

Selling the drama...

Playing the songs night after night, all of a sudden I noticed I was playing more deep, rich chords to fill out larger venues

“My primary motivation was just to write songs. On Live’s first album Mental Jewelry, I know there’s not a guitar solo on that record. Then we went on the road and playing the songs night after night, all of a sudden I noticed I was playing more deep, rich chords to fill out larger venues. So when you hear the next album Throwing Copper, you hear me starting to develop some solos, some bigger sounds, and by the time Secret Samadhi happened, I would probably say [my lead style] was fully developed. It’s a skillset that I have now.”

You’d better shop around...

“My guitar obsession means I even own my own guitar shop. It’s called Tone Tailors and it’s based in Rock Lititz - the world’s largest touring production facility, which is in Lititz, Pennsylvania and minutes away from my house. All the huge tours start and end there. So we have a guitar shop on-site. I helped Bob Bradshaw from Custom Audio Electronics, who’s a total innovator of guitar switching, move from LA and actually located him within our shop, so we have a pro service division. We get all these fantastic guitarists and technicians come into the shop looking for touring supplies and gear.”

Ruby, my love...

“My dream guitar was a Jazzmaster. Eventually, I purchased a 1961 Seafoam Green Jazzmaster, which I called Ruby Lou, after my first daughter. I guess it became the most famous of my guitars. Last year, Fender did this amazing reproduction of the original Ruby Lou guitar where they used the incredible scan technology that they used to build the Stevie Ray guitars and this latest Jimmy Page Telecaster. I am telling you, side by side, it is extremely hard to tell the difference.”

Hail, César...

He didn’t tell me any details about it. I found out after that it was Bob Dylan’s guitar!

“I actually purchased the Jazzmaster from a guy named César Díaz, who was Bob Dylan’s guitar player and was also Stevie Ray Vaughan’s tech. He also helped me out [in 1995] when we played MTV Unplugged. I couldn’t afford a nice Martin yet, and so I called César. He said, ‘Alright, I have one that you can use’. He didn’t tell me any details about it, but waiting for me in the theatre was this massive bodyguard with a guitar case. He said, ‘César said I’m only supposed to give this to you, and I have to take it immediately when you’re done playing’. I found out after that it was Bob Dylan’s guitar!”

Lost and found

“The Ruby Lou Jazzmaster was stolen in New Orleans and went missing for 10 years. My guitar tech, Matt Gracey came up to me and said, ‘Ruby Lou is missing!’. I thought he meant my daughter. My heart went up into my throat, my stomach sank. He looked at me and he realised what I was thinking and said, ‘No, no, no. The guitar!’ Suddenly, I didn’t give two shits about the guitar. Instantly, in that moment, I was given perspective on life and possessions.”

The 25th anniversary edition of Live’s Throwing Copper is out now on Radioactive/Universal

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