Koko Taylor more than once said she hoped that when she died, it would be on stage, doing the thing she loved most: Singing the blues.
She nearly got her wish. The Chicago musical icon died Wednesday at age 80 of complications from gastrointestinal surgery less than four weeks after her last performance, at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, Tenn. There she collected her record 29th Blues Music Award, capping an era in which she became the most revered female blues vocalist of her time with signature hits "Wang Dang Doodle," "I'm a Woman" and "Hey Bartender."
Taylor died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital 15 days after her May 19 surgery. She appeared to be recovering until taking a turn for the worst Wednesday morning, and was with friends and family when she died.
I had the very great pleasure of interviewing the Queen of the Blues two summers ago - she was humble, gracious and even flirted with me. I saw her perform a few weeks later in Tokyo and at 78 she still had the pipes to blow the band off the stage.