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Ron Taylor, 49
January 28, 2002, By Los Angeles Times Service

Ron Taylor, an actor-singer who co-created and starred in the Tony-nominated musical revue It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues on Broadway, has died. He was 49.

Taylor died Jan. 16 of an apparent heart attack at his home in Los Angeles. He had suffered a mild stroke in 1999 during the run of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues at Lincoln Center in New York, but was back on stage five weeks later.

Described by one critic as a big man with an even bigger voice, Taylor played the voracious, man-eating plant (“Feed me, Seymour!”) in off-Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors in the 1980s.

The versatile Taylor worked steadily in film and television.

He had a recurring role in City of Angels, and appeared in more than 30 other shows, including Ally McBeal and The Simpsons, for which he supplied the voice for saxophonist “Bleeding Gums” Murphy.

He also appeared in more than 20 films, including Trading Places, A Rage in Harlem and Rush Hour 2.

As a vocalist, Taylor performed with Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Etta James, Sheila E., Slash and others. His blues band, The Nervis Bros., played at clubs and other venues around the country.

Taylor, born in Galveston, Texas, was a football player at Wharton College in Wharton, Texas, when he joined the school choir after its director heard his booming voice during an impromptu imitation of the Temptations with some friends in a hallway.

Taylor also became active in the college’s theater department, and later attended the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.

He met his wife, DeBorah Sharpe-Taylor, in 1977 when he portrayed the Lion and she was the understudy for Dorothy in the national touring company of The Wiz.

In addition to his wife, Taylor is survived by his son, Adamah; his parents; and two sisters.