Greg "Fingers" Taylor comes home: Storied musician returns to Miss.
Greg "Fingers" Taylor, who played harmonica in Jimmy Buffet's Coral Reefer Band for 32 years, has retired from the spotlight and returned home to Mississippi to live.
reg "Fingers" Taylor has spent a large portion of his adult life with a harmonica between his lips, making it weep, howl, plead and bleed.
Still, the instrument mystifies him.
"It's a mighty, mighty machine with a tiny, tiny body," he says. "I guess that's always intrigued me about it. How can such a big sound come from something so small?"
Fact is, it can't - except in the hands of a select few.
Taylor's unique gift of coaxing a harmonica into becoming something almost human helped create music history.
The 57-year-old graduate of Callaway High School, who recently moved back to the Jackson area, was an original member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band.
He was there when Buffett made it big, toured with him for 24 years, and still plays with him on occasion. In 2009, he joined Buffett for a show in Chicago.
His impact on Buffett's career was huge. According to Norbert Putnam, who produced Buffett's first six albums that included the iconic Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, Taylor and keyboard player Mike Utley were key ingredients to Buffett's rise to fame.
"If I had lost either of them, I don't think Buffett's records would have been nearly as successful," Putnam says. "Fingers' harp became identifiable with Buffett's music.
"And Fingers used to get the live shows started for Jimmy. The curtain would go up and there would be Fingers Taylor and Coral Reefer. Fingers would get the crowd all wound up, and then introduce Jimmy."
After nearly four decades on the road, Taylor returns to the Jackson area to be near his mother, Doris, and many longtime friends. "It's where I belong," he says.
He comes bearing gifts for all music lovers - hundreds of harmonicas that he intends to make sure do not gather dust.
"There is no way to begin to measure what that means to the Jackson music scene," says Malcolm White, a former music promoter and now executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. "It could help get national acts here, if they think there is a chance Fingers Taylor might sit in with them."
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