Tributes paid to Skye musician who played with Elton John at Live Aid

Trombonist Rick Taylor became one of the best-known musicians on the Isle of Skye after moving there in 2002.
Trombonist Rick Taylor became one of the best-known musicians on the Isle of Skye after moving there in 2002.
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The Scottish music world has paid tribute to an Isle of Skye-based musician who played with Elton John at Live Aid after he passed away suddenly.

Trombonist Rick Taylor worked with George Michael, Robbie Williams, Chris Rea, Wet Wet Wet and the Spice Girls before relocating to the Hebridean island in 2002.

Taylor suffered a heart attack at his home in the Armadale area of Skye, where he had lived for many years, on Friday night.

Taylor, who toured around the world with Elton John, also worked with jazz greats like Gil Evans, Mike Gibbs and George Russell.

He became immersed in Scotland’s jazz and folk scenes after moving there, and went on to set up his own record label and music school in the south of Skye.

He released an album of songs inspired by his experiences on Skye in 2010 and was one of the key figures involved in the creation of a Skye Swing Jazz Festival in the Sleat area, where he lived.

Taylor toured and recorded with the Skye band the Peatbog Faeries for years and led the horn section of the Scottish folk-orchestra supergroup The Unusual Suspects.

Among the other leading Scottish acts Durham-born Taylor worked with were Justin Currie, Salsa Celtica, Colin MacIntyre, Karine Polwart, Eddi Reader and Blazin’ Fiddles.

An acclaimed musical director, composer, conductor and lecturer, he had worked regularly at both Sabhal Mor Ostaig on Skye and Lews Castle College on Benbecula.

The Unusual Suspects, a group launched at Glasgow's Celtic Connections festival in 2003, said: “There are no words that can truly express the loss of Rick Taylor.

A founding member and essential force in The Unusual Suspects since its inception, a friend, an inspiration, he was a beautiful and gentle soul with a huge musical vocabulary and a heart to match.

“Such memories of extraordinary music, great times and wholehearted laughs that would make you ache.

“Rick, we’re truly grateful for everything you brought to our world, and even more so that you leave it with us - there are few that exemplify the value of ‘passing it on’ like you.”

A tribute posted by the Peatbog Faeries said: “We are so sad to tell those who haven’t heard the awful news that our great friend and inspiration Rick Taylor has passed away.

“He was part of the band for around seven years and contributed greatly to three studio albums as well as our 2009 live album.
“Along with Nigel Hitchcock and Paul Spong, he formed a formidable brass section that, as a folk band from Skye, we could never have imagined having the privilege to work and play with.”

Bruce McGregor, a founder member of Blazin’ Fiddles, said Taylor was “truly the most inspiring musician I’ve ever met, someone so talented and so open to sharing every bit of that talent.

He added: “Anyone who was lucky enough to play, be taught, have a G&T with will know he was special.”

Eddi Reader said: "Goodbye Rick Taylor. It was an honour to serve under your direction."

Jazz drummer Tom Bancroft said: "The warm voice on the phone saying 'I’d love to mate' when you asked him to do a gig was the best sound in the world."

Music promoter and publicist Rob Ellen said: "What an amazing life, amazing story and a sad loss to Scottish Jazz and music in general."