DEBBIE TAYLOR is a highly-acclaimed but relatively obscure soul singer who released nine singles and an album during an eight-year period from 1967 to 1975, during the ‘golden days’ of soul music. Three of her 45s reached the R&B charts but, despite her obvious talent, she failed to make a significant impact in commercial terms and her name was soon forgotten by most.

THE MARKET was crowded in the golden days and hundreds of new singles had to compete for precious radio exposure each week. Many worthy records were overshadowed or completely overlooked and many gifted singers were restricted to regional success or even total obscurity.

Only one of Debbie Taylor’s 45s was released internationally and, although it was championed by a hard-core minority of soul fans, it was doomed to fail at a time when the focus of most DJs was on the emerging disco sounds which had begun to dominate the black music airwaves.

Despite the odds, her records were cherished by loyal and passionate soul fans in many parts of the world, particularly in the UK, Europe and Japan where she acquired a cult ‘underground’ status with a level of admiration usually reserved for more prolific and successful artists such as Aretha Franklin or Gladys Knight. And the mistaken notion that Debbie Taylor was ‘lost’ just added to the mystique.

But Debbie wasn’t lost at all. She hadn’t slipped into obscurity in 1976, she had intentionally put her ‘Debbie Taylor’ identity on the shelf and had returned to ‘real’ life as Maydie Myles. No wonder so many soul fans and music journalists had been unable to find her.


MAYDIE MYLES was born Maddie Bell Galvin in Norfolk, Virginia, on 23 June, 1947. Maddie is pronounced Maydie so she decided to spell her name that way. The youngest of four children born to Janie Galvin and the Reverend James Galvin, a pastor in the Pentecostal church, her upbringing was typical of many who went on to be soul singers in the 1960s: she played piano at home from the age of five and with her older sister was singing in church ahead of her father’s sermons by the time she was a teenager. They travelled from church to church in one state after another, singing gospel music. That was Maydie’s introduction to performing in public.

Maydie’s high school choir teacher, Reginald Walker, had a jazz trio which he invited her to join when she was age 11. She worked with Walker’s group for two years, gaining more musical knowledge and valuable experience of performing on stage in front of an audience. As a teenager she also toured with several gospel groups, one of which also featured Barbara Stant, and even performed at the 1965 World Fair.

Her parents were so religious that Maydie adopted the name ‘Debbie Taylor’ for secular music when she started hanging out at sessions on Church Street which was Norfolk’s centre of activity for R&B and home to a record store owned by Noah Biggs who also operated an independent label called Shiptown Records. Maydie’s friend Barbara Stant would later record for Shiptown but Maydie got a bigger break when in 1967 she was spotted performing at Bob’s Lounge by Joe Medlin, a regional promoter and talent scout for MCA’s Decca Records subsidiary.


Maydie was still a teenager so her mother co-signed the contract which enabled her to record for Decca using her ‘Debbie Taylor’ pseudonym. She had crossed from gospel and jazz into soul music; she had become Debbie Taylor.

Debbie’s first sessions were held at Willie Mitchell’s Royal studio in Memphis, yielding four finished tracks which were essentially produced by Stax hitmakers Isaac Hayes and David Porter but credited to Joe Medlin. The sessions featured members of Mitchell’s in-house rhythm section with The Memphis Horns.

Her first single, ‘The Last Laugh Is On The Blues’, was penned by Buddy Scott and Jimmy Radcliffe and was issued on Decca 32090 in 1967 (not 1968 as is often reported). Coupled with the Don Bryant song ‘I Get The Blues’, it was an impressive debut which showed the world that Debbie had a natural soul ability and it hinted at a promising future.

The follow-up was even stronger. Written by Willie Dean Parker and Henderson Thigpen, ‘Wait Until I’m Gone’ (Decca 32259) is a moody slow-beat song with a tearful lyric and a soulful delivery. It got enough airplay to reach the top 40 R&B chart in early 1968 and was a well-deserved success.

Anyone who bought that 45 would have been delighted to find that the slower flip, ‘Check Yourself’, offered an even more deep and soulful demonstration of Debbie Taylor at her most intense.

‘Check Yourself’ is a haunting blues-flavoured ballad written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter who had also recorded the song, as ‘I’d Better Check On Myself’, with Stax/Volt artist Ruby Johnson during the same period (although Johnson’s version wasn’t issued at the time). On ‘Check Yourself’ young Debbie showed she could convincing play the role of a woman hurt by a lover who had eyes for someone else. It was an emotive performance that any soul singer would be proud of.

Whilst at Royal Debbie also cut a duet with Danny White but ‘I Don’t Mind Overtime (With You)’ wasn’t released. White, the veteran New Orleans singer who had hit with ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye’ in 1963, had joined MCA/Decca in 1966 and had been working under the direction of Gene Bowlegs Miller, having previously worked with Hayes and Porter.

If she had never made another record, Debbie would have been eternally admired for her four Decca sides. Little would she have thought that her youthful performances would have such a profound and lasting impression on so many strangers in distant places. I was just a 9-year-old kid when those 45s were released but thankfully I stumbled on them when I developed a heavy thirst for soul music as a teenager. And ever since then I kept a sharp eye out for Debbie Taylor.


In March 1969 Debbie launched Gerard Purcell’s GWP label and the dreamy midtempo ‘Never Gonna Let Him Know’ (GWP 501) gave her a second R&B chart entry, this time reaching the top 20.

Once again she sounded even more in control on the dramatic B side, ‘Let’s Prove Them Wrong’, written by Eddie Jones with George Kerr and an uncredited Jerry Harris. Kerr also produced these sessions with Paul Robinson, GWPs vice president.

Later that year came the brassy uptempo ‘Don’t Let It End’ (GWP 510) which was paired with the ballad ‘How Long Can This Last’, another song co-written by Eddie Jones and another opportunity for Debbie to really express herself as a soul singer with strong conviction.

Less commercial was her third GWP single, issued in late 1969 and featuring Debbie on only one side. Credited to Debbie Taylor & The Hesitations, ‘Momma, Look Sharp’ (512) was a Sherman Edwards song from a Broadway musical called ‘1776’. Produced by Paul Robinson, it was a piano-led duet between Debbie and an uncredited member of The Hesitations. Curiously, the flip side was a Hesitations track called ‘No Brag, Just Fact’.

Debbie’s next single was released in early 1970 on the Grapevine label, a short-lived GWP subsidiary, and both sides were penned and produced by Ray Dahrouge and Billy Terrell, the team who had written ‘Never Gonna Let Him Know’. ‘Don’t Nobody Mess With My Baby’ (202) was an obvious attempt to replicate the classic Motown sound, as was the even more uptempo ‘Stop’ on the other side. Although Debbie sounded comfortable, these two songs were a little dated in style and less distinct than her earlier GWP material. As with all of her GWP tracks, these sessions were arranged by Ed Bland.

Whilst at GWP Paul Robinson also cut Debbie on a Larry Saunders song called ‘All That I Have’, recorded circa 1969 and supported by The Hesitations, but it remained on the shelf until 2005 when it was featured by Ace Records on a Kent compilation album of material from the GWP archives.


In 1972 Gerard Purcell hooked Debbie up with Terry Phillips and Boo Frazier at Perception Records and she recorded an album at New York’s Blue Rock studio which was released on Perception’s Today label subsidiary. Comin’ Down On You (Today 1007) is a nine-track LP produced by David Jordan with Patrick Adams who also served as arranger. The highlight of the album was the sparse and dreamy ballad ‘Leaving Him Tomorrow’, which had previously been recorded for Today Records by veteran group The Exciters on their 1971 album Black Beauty, but the song was perfect for Debbie and its theme was sorrow; once again, her man was running around with other women. She said she was gonna leave him tomorrow and I hope she did.

Only one 45 was lifted from the album, the infectious and uplifting ‘No Deposit, No Return’ (Today 1510) which was written by Jordan and Adams and is similar in style and spirit to some of Freda Payne’s Invictus hits.

The single deserved more success and should have been issued in the UK where its commercial potential would have been quite strong at the time. On the flip was ‘Too Sad To Tell’ which was also taken from the LP.

Other high points from the album include the ballads ‘Second To None’ and ‘Touchin’ You’ (which Jordan and Adams also cut with JJ Barnes for his Perception LP Born Again in 1973) and the uptempo tracks ‘Romance Without Finance’ and ‘No Ifs, Ands Or Buts’ which was also recorded for Today Records by Black Ivory in 1972.


David Jordan took Debbie to Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia for a session with MFSB and arranger Richard Rome which sadly only resulted in one single.

The excellent ‘I Have Learned To Do Without You’ / ‘Cheaper In The Long Run’ was issued on Polydor 14219 in late 1973. Jordan had penned ‘I Have Learned To Do Without You’ with JJ Barnes and Don Davis, producer of the original Mavis Staples version which had been issued on Volt in the summer of 1970.

Few singers can compete with Mavis Staples but Debbie’s version is equally worthy and it deserved more support than it received.

A follow-up single was scheduled for release on Polydor 14252 in 1974 but for some reason it never surfaced. ‘Superstar’, a version of the oft-recorded Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett song, was to have been backed with ‘A Good Woman Don’t Grow On Trees’ which Jordan had previously cut as ‘Good Men Don’t Grow On Trees’ with JJ Barnes.

More than a year would pass before the release of her next single and, sadly, it would turn out to be her last record as Debbie Taylor. It’s also considered by many to be her very best...


The tearful ballad ‘I Don’t Wanna Leave You’ was produced by David Jordan in 1975 at an ambitious live session at Broadway Sound in New York with a full band and orchestra featuring Motown veteran Earl Van Dyke on keyboards. With its stunning and highly evocative slow-build arrangement, ‘I Don’t Wanna Leave You’ is an anguished love song co-written by Jordan with drummer and arranger Andrew Smith.

The dramatic musical setting was perfect for an intensely soulful performance and yet again Debbie played the convincing role of an emotionally tortured woman who loved her man but could no longer trust him.

Jordan hired Tom Moulton for the final mixdown at Sigma Sound’s New York studio and leased the master to Arista Records who had the confidence to release ‘I Don’t Wanna Leave You’ (Arista 0144) in its entirety, with a duration of 5:30, but radio DJs were also serviced with an edited version. It was playlisted on several key stations and rode the R&B charts for three months which was impressive for such a slow and soulful ballad at a time when the black music scene was dominated by disco and funk sounds.

Much of its success may have been due to ‘Rocky G’, an independent promotions man hired by Arista to work the record on east coast stations. His methods may have involved payola because in August 1975 Rocky G (Ellsworth Groce) admitted to a grand jury in Newark, New Jersey, that he’d paid more than $10,000 in cash to influential radio DJs such as Frankie Crocker who ruled the airwaves at WBLS, the most popular New York station for black music.

‘I Don’t Wanna Leave You’ was the first of Debbie’s single to gain international release but when Arista eventually issued the single in the UK via EMI in early 1976 they disappointed soul fans by using a short edit which was also sonically inferior. The uptempo flip side, ‘Just Don't Pay’, was also edited, losing over a minute and lacking the vibrancy of the original Tom Moulton mix. The single was also released by Arista licensees in Japan and Brazil.

‘Just Don’t Pay’ eventually found popularity in underground UK soul clubs and in 1989 it was reissued by Old Gold Records on a 12” single which featured ‘Love Don’t Come No Stronger’ by Jeff Perry on the flip side.


Nothing more was heard from Debbie Taylor after 1975 and it was a mystery that such a talent could have just disappeared into obscurity without any explanation. It later transpired that she had declined an opportunity to sign a direct deal with Arista because it would have meant cutting David Jordan and Andrew Smith out of the picture. Loyalty is quite rare in the music business and few artists would have refused such an offer.

Disillusioned, she put her ‘Debbie Taylor’ persona in the closet and returned to being Maydie Myles again. She left Virginia in the early 1980s and moved north to Stamford, Connecticut, where she kept a lower profile but was featured vocalist on six 12” singles issued by indie dance label K4B Records between 1994 and 1998. She relocated to the nearby city of Norwalk in 2003 and continued to perform with her band in soul and jazz clubs, more recently doing vocal sessions for TV and radio adverts and jingles.


Early in 2011 Maydie Myles self-released a jazz-flavoured CD album titled The Ones I Love and casually revealed that she had previously recorded under the name of ‘Debbie Taylor’, not really expecting anyone to be very interested. And that’s when her phone started going crazy...

The word was out: ‘Debbie Taylor’ had been found at last, even though she had never been lost. Understandably, Maydie was overwhelmed by the level of interest from overseas fans, DJs and journalists.

In November 2011 Selrec issued a new mix of ‘Just Don’t Pay’ in the UK on their Shotgun label, intended to coincide with a scheduled appearance of ‘Debbie Taylor’ at a weekend soul festival. Sadly she didn’t appear at that event but exactly two years later, in November 2013, she performed a one-off UK show with a full band and the event was a sell-out.

with thanks to Mike Charlton

NOTE: Many attempts have been made to find David Jordan over the past thirty years. He seems to have disappeared in the 1980s and is now assumed to be deceased. Sadly, Andrew Smith passed away in East Brunswick, New Jersey, in 2000.

by Paul Mooney


The Last Laugh Is On The Blues / I Get The Blues (Decca 32090) 1967

Wait Until Im Gone / Check Yourself (Decca 32259) 1968

Never Gonna Let Him Know / Lets Prove Them Wrong (GWP 501) 1969

Dont Let It End / How Long Can This Last (GWP 510) 1969

Momma, Look Sharp / No Brag, Just Fact (GWP 512) 1969 [the B side is by The Hesitations]

Dont Nobody Mess With My Baby / Stop (GWPs Grapevine 202) 1970

No Deposit, No Return / Too Sad To Tell (Today 1510) 1972

I Have Learned To Do Without You / Cheaper In The Long Run (Polydor 14219) 1973

I Dont Wanna Leave You / Just Dont Pay (Arista 0144) 1975


Comin Down On You (Today 1007) 1972


I Dont Wanna Leave You / Just Dont Pay (Arista ARISTA 50) 1976

Just Dont Pay (Old Gold OG 4509) 1989 [12 single with B side by Jeff Perry]

Just Dont Pay (Long Version) / Just Dont Pay (Shotgun SHOT 110) 2011


The previously unissued GWP master All That I Have by Debbie Taylor & The Hesitations is featured on the compilation album GWP: NYC TCB (Kent CDKEND 249) which was released by Ace Records in 2005 and contains three other GWP tracks by Debbie: Dont Let It End, Lets Prove Them Wrong and Dont Nobody Mess With My Baby’.

A second volume (CDKEND 236) was released in 2009 and features another four of Debbie’s GWP tracks: Never Gonna Let Him Know’, Momma, Look Sharp’, How Long Can This Last’ and Stop’.

Both volumes are highly recommended.

Copyright © 2013