Arts Devo

RIP Mo-Tay

Moriss Taylor

Moriss Taylor

Welcome to the Moriss Taylor Show “One duck hunter said to another, ‘You know we’ve been out here four hours and haven’t caught a duck yet. I wonder why?’ And the other duck hunter says, ‘Maybe we ain’t throwing the dogs high enough?’”

Here’s another …

“They say dogs would make good chiropractors … because they know where all the bones are.”

Wait, one more …

“An overweight man said, ‘You know, I don’t think of it as a pot belly, I kind of look upon it as an awning for my knees.”

Last week, Chico lost one of its true icons. Moriss Taylor died on Monday, Jan. 8. The musician, TV personality, radio DJ and king of bad jokes was 93. Chico’s singing cowboy hosted the weekly Moriss Taylor Show on KHSL TV for 40 years, performing country covers and his own originals with his band and a host of guest singers while breaking things up, Hee Haw-style, with his cornball jokes punctuated with canned laughter.

As a young pimply faced Arts DEVO growing up in Redding, the pedal-steel guitar and matching outfits didn’t impress me, in fact, I often wanted to smash our TV with a baseball bat when the only channels our rabbit ears would pick up were showing either Taylor’s show or The Lawrence Welk Show. Today, of course, I would kill to have a musical variety show like that to watch, especially if the host wrote amazing lonesome cowboy songs like “High Sierra,” the gorgeous original with which Taylor closed each show. I’m grateful that I had a chance to see him play in person at least one time back when the CN&R coaxed a rare, and beautiful, performance out of Taylor at the 2008 CAMMIES Awards Show at the El Rey Theatre.

Taylor was born in Oklahoma, came to the North State with his family when he was 14, graduated from Oroville High, joined the Army Air Corps and flew C-46 transport missions in India during World War II. When he came back, inspired by the singing cowboys of his childhood—Gene Autry and Roy Rogers—Taylor put together a band and first started performing live on KHSL radio, making the jump to TV in 1956. He also worked as an on-air personality and salesman for the radio station, continuing in that capacity until his retirement in 2013.

Taylor was laid to rest at Glen Oaks Memorial Park during a private service. No public memorial has been announced.

The Morris Taylor Show

Well, friends, looks like the end of the trail for another musical get-together. We’d like to say thanks for being with us. I’d like to say thanks to all our entertainers and musicians. And, until next time …

High Sierra, skies are blue

Whispering pines remind me of you

Walking together over meadows green

We pledged our love by a rippling stream

I can see the sunlight shining on her golden hair

And hear the words she told me as we were standing there

High Sierra calling me home

To my true love, who’s waiting alone