Alvin Taylor

When I finally graduated from college my wife and I and our new baby moved into an apartment in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. We had a lot of friends there and used to party quite a bit. A black guy named Alvin Taylor moved in to the building across from ours. He had a bunch of brand new music recording equipment, and somebody told him I knew how to set up that kind of stuff, so he introduced himself to me. I went over to his place and helped him set up some of the gear. I got kind of uncomfortable because he was as big as a brick shithouse and he stood real close to me while I was working. We listened to a tape he had made of some of his original songs. They were outstanding. Not really the kind of stuff I listen to, but he had a voice like an angel and could play a bunch of instruments really well. My wife wanted to invite him over for dinner but I nixed those plans. There were just too many weird things about the guy. I would see him riding around town in the passenger seat of rich old white ladies' cars. He had thousands of dollars of musical equipment, but he was just playing the occasional motel lounge gig.

One day he asked me to come out to this studio he had out in the country. He wanted me to lay down the guitar tracks for the Lionel Ritchie song "Dancing on the Ceiling", which was pretty big at that time. I didn't like that song because it was cheesy and over-played, so I said "no". Now I think there was some more providence involved here, since I have hung out with some people who seemed a lot weirder than Alvin, but I was comfortable with them.

Anyway, we were watching the news a couple days later when my wife said, "Hey, there's Alvin Taylor on TV!" He had just been busted for murdering some guy out at the studio in the country. He had even gone to a nearby farmer and asked for a bag of lime, which he spread over the body in a shallow grave. It was the second or third person he had murdered in that way. His sister came from another town to defend him, but she was also as crazy a hoot owl, and Alvin was quickly convicted and sentenced to life in Mendota mental institution.

I credit Lionel Ritchie for saving my life that time. Thanks.  It was a great song, anyway.