I had a few moments with Shooby that you don't know about, but one phone call I don't think I'll ever forget as long as I live.
It was a weekday night -- a Tuesday, I think -- about two or three months before Shooby passed on. It was maybe a little before 11 pm. I had been out seeing some band and was walking home through a surprisingly quiet Times Square on an unseasonably warm evening. A number appeared on my cell caller ID -- a NJ area code. I almost wasn't going to answer -- I didn't know anyone in NJ who would be calling at that hour. Curious, I answered.
It was William, Sr. He didn't introduce himself -- he almost never did when he called. He didn't have to. Who the hell else spoke like Shooby? This night his voice was unusually steady, although you could detect the strain it caused him to keep it that way. He said, very slowly and deliberately: "A-h-h-h-h.....R-Rick....I-I-I-I wanted to thank YOU -- for findin' me -- An-n-n- INTROducin' me to MY Fans." Even though the man usually spoke swallowing every other syllable, I was pretty sure this was an emotional conveyance of deep gratitude. I don't remember much else of the conversation. It was brief, but it wasn't filled with the "why aren't you visiting me?" comments he usually snapped my way. He made an allusion to "You, me and Irving -- the Three Musketeers," and about putting out records and such. But it was half-hearted, as if he had spent most of his energy in his opening thank you. Then rather abruptly he said, "Well .... OK .... goodbye." I never spoke to him again.
I didn't know what to do with Shooby Taylor when I finally found him. I'm really glad you have preserved his place in history. I don't think he ever knew just how much joy his music really brought me, or if he knew that I laughed when I heard him scat. Hell -- I'm not sure if I laughed because he had a brilliant talent or because he was brilliantly out of his mind. Maybe a bit of both.
It's weird to think it was almost three months after his passing that I found out he was gone. I miss him in some very strange way. The more time that passes between that day we first met him and the present -- the more I realize I don't think I'll ever meet anyone like him again.