The March of the Black Queen


 Roger Meddows-Taylor was born on July 26, 1949 at the West Norfolk and King's Lynn Hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, to Winifred and Michael Taylor. Michael was an inspector for the Potato Marketing Board. 'Meddows' was a family name that had been passed down successive Taylor generations, and it was subsequently passed on to Roger as a middle name.

Roger had attended his first school, Gaywood Primary in King's Lynn, for three years when the family, now including sister Clare, born in 1953, decided to make the major move down to Truro in Cornwall where Roger was enrolle
d at Bosvigo School. 

Baby Roger.

 Roger aged 5, at tle right of the picture, at the lap of the dark haired woman. From Queen in Cornwall blogspot.

 Roger (at the far left of the picture) with other kids, unknown details.

In 1957, aged eight, Roger was watching his cousin play simple tunes on his guitar and decided then and there he wanted a guitar too. At first he made do with a ukulele, on which he taught himself basic chords. It was enough to persuade him, even at that age, that he should form a band.
The band were called the Bubblingover Boys and played skiffle music. Roger played, or tried to play, the ukulele, someone else had a tea-chest bass, and a couple of other lads had guitars.
The Bubblingover Boys played just once more, at the Bosvigo School at a school dance. It was a short-lived venture, one reason being that none of them were very good at it, and another that in May 1960 Roger started at the Truro Cathedral School and left behind his fellow band members. He was awarded a choral scholarship to the school, which involved joining the cathedral choir. He was an unwilling member of that elite fellowship, as it involved singing three times every Sunday and at special services such as weddings and midnight mass at Christmas. Although the experience was invaluable, Roger never considered himself the choirboy type.

In September 1960, Roger won a place at Truro School. This public school was academically the best in the area, and Roger was the only pupil from the cathedral school to get a free place there. It was a boarding school but as Roger lived nearby he went as a day boy.
The joys of playing guitar were already beginning to fade for Roger, and he found himself more and more drawn to percussion. He started off by bashing upturned saucepans with his mother's knitting needles, using the lids as cymbals. He actually found a snare drum one day while out playing with friends, and was given a hi-hat cymbal. For Christmas 1961, his father presented him with a bass drum and a tom-tom - he had picked up both for £12 and had mended and polished them. Although it was a mismatched kit, Roger was exceedingly proud of it. He went out after Christmas and bought himself a brand new Zildjian crash cymbal for eight shillings - his first proper cymbal - and eventually another tom-tom as well.

During 1963 he and some friends formed a band. They called themselves the Cousin Jacks. Roger was initially their rhythm guitarist, but he didn't enjoy this, and subsequently took over on drums, where he felt far more comfortable. The band split after a year.

For 1964-65 Roger was the drummer of the Beat Unlimited band, formed with Mike Dudley (guitar) and David Dowding (bass guitar).

 1964, July - Roger Taylor's first proper group, Beat Unlimited, pictured in a barn in New Mills, Cornwall. From left to right: Dave Dowding, Roger Taylor on drums, and Mike Dudley.


In 1965 Roger joined a local band called Johnny Quale and the Reaction. On 15 March, after rehearsing together for a couple of weeks, they considered themselves competent to enter 'The Rock and Rhythm Championship', an annual event run by the Round Table in Truro City Hall, at which bands from all over Cornwall and Devon would compete. Johnny Quale and the Reaction came fourth and that served to start them off on the Cornish music circuit, which was quite significant in those days, attracting many of the bigger, London-based groups.

1965 - The only known professional photo of Johnny Quale & the Reactions. L to R: saxophonist John 'Acker' Snell, singer Johnny 'Quale' Grose (top), bassist Jim Craven, their youthful drummer Roger 'Splodge' Taylor (top), guitarrist/organist Mike Dudley and guitarrist Graham Hankins.

On September 1965 Johnny, the lead singer, left the band. His departure came just before they were booked to play a gig, so Roger, the only one left who could sing, took over on lead vocals. They dropped the first part of the name and became Reaction. On 7 March 1966, Reaction entered the Rock and Rhythm Championship again, this time with Roger on lead vocals. The hard work and endless gigging over the past year paid off, and they won.

Even though he was busy with Reaction, Roger's school work didn't suffer, and he left Truro School in the summer of 1967 with seven O levels- in English language, English literature, biology, physics, chemistry, French and math. He also had three A levels in biology, chemistry and physics. By this time he had heeded the advice of his teachers, decided on a career in dentistry and been accepted at the London Hospital Medical School. 

Above: 1965, December - The Reactions at Truro School's 1965 Christmas dance. L to R: Jim Craven, Graham Hankins, Roger Taylor, 'Acker' Snell and the group's organist and archivist Mike Dudley (seated).

Below: The Reaction, with frontman Roger 'Sandy' Brokenshaw and new guitarrist Geoff Daniel, shortly before their winning two-song set at the Truro Round Table's 1966 Rock & Rhytm Championship.


1968, September - Mike Duddley, Roger and bassist Rick Thoring hearing, speaking and seeing no evil at the Grand Hotel, Dawlish. From Mike Dudkey personal collection.

1968, September - The Reaction playing in a marquee at the Summer Coast Sound Experience during a thunderstorm on Trevallas Port, Cornwall. L to R: 'Acker' Snell, Ricky Penrose, Roger and Mike Dudley. From Mike's personal collection.

Reaction eventually split in the summer of 1968 when Roger went back to London. Roger went back to university intent on getting into another band. His appetite for fame and fortune was keen and he read the music press regularly, looking for an opportunity. In early autumn Les Brown noticed a postcard pinned to the Imperial College noticeboard asking for a 'Ginger Baker/Mitch Mitchell type drummer' [Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience drummers] for a new band. He passed on the information to Roger, who, intrigued, contacted the name on the card the following day. It was Brian May.