Ron Taylor, Tony Nominee for Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, Dead

News   Ron Taylor, Tony Nominee for Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, Dead Ron Taylor, the double Tony Award nominee for It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues in 1999, died the week of Jan. 14, according to colleagues in the theatre community.
Carter Calvert and Ron Taylor in It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues.
Carter Calvert and Ron Taylor in It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues. (Photo by Photo by Joan Marcus)

Ron Taylor, the double Tony Award nominee for It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues in 1999, died the week of Jan. 14, according to colleagues in the theatre community.

A cause and date of death were not immediately known, but Mr. Taylor had struggled with past health problems, including a mild stroke during the run of Blues. He was nominated for 1999 Tony Awards for Best Book of a Musical and Best Supporting Actor in a Musical for the blues revue he co-wrote and developed in regional theatre. The show was "based on an original idea by Ron Taylor," according to the Playbill title page. The musical would make its way from Denver Center Theatre Company to San Diego Repertory Theatre to Alabama Shakespeare Festival to Crossroads Theatre over the years before landing on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre in spring 1999. It moved to the Ambassador Theatre and would later tour and be trimmed down for a blues-club version at B.B. King's venue on 42nd Street.

Mr. Taylor was a boisterous, rotund actor whose good humor helped buoy It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, a show for which he also served as associate producer. Among his songs in the show were "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man," "The Thrill is Gone," "Blues Man" and the Act Two opener, "Let the Good Times Roll."

In 1999, he celebrated 25 years as an actor. His New York credits included the Miz, Jesus Christ Superstar, Eubie, The Three Musketeers and, according to his bio, the original voice of Audrey II in Off-Broadway's Little Shop of Horrors.

Mr. Taylor suffered a mild stroke June 11, 1999, and left Ain't Nothin', but returned to the company Aug. 24. (Ken Page filled in for Taylor in July-August 1999.) A Los Angeles resident, Mr. Taylor appeared in more than 16 films and on more than 35 TV shows (he was the voice of jazz great "Bleeding Gums" Murphy on "The Simpsons"). He is survived by his wife, Deborah, and son Adamah.

— By Kenneth Jones