We had arranged that I would pick up Peanuts Taylor and bring him to our studio. Consequently, I had the opportunity to chat with him during the 15-minute drive to Popopstudios. I had never met him before but immediately he struck me as a tremendously good-natured man, with natural wisdom and a sense of humility. We chatted about life experiences and the importance of making good decisions. By the time we reached the studio I felt like we were old friends.
Born in 1935, John Berkely Taylor has been entertaining for over seventy years. He earned his nickname and his reputation at the early age of four when he was walking past the famous Paul Meeres Club. Seeing Paul Meeres, young John bragged to him, “I can sing and dance better than you”. When Paul Meeres responded with, “You’re nothing but a peanut,” John took the cue and went into his song and dance routine. Meeres was impressed and hired the youngster. He performed on stage with the 300-pound “Princess” Augusta Lewis and they were known as “Big Bina and Peanut the Wonder Boy.” John has been fondly known as “Peanuts” ever since.
During our photo session with Peanuts we talked about the culture of the Bahamas and the course through history that has led the country to where we are today. Peanuts had a wealth of interesting stories to share from days past. But he was also interested in what we were doing with the Bahamian Project and expressed his own desires to preserve the culture for future generations. He noted that it is important not to lose the understanding of where we have come from in order to keep our sense of identity and know where we are going in the future.
Peanuts brought with him two exotically painted wooden goatskin drums, a few wildly patterned shirts in vivid colours and several long strands of beads and adornments. My favourite was a leather medallion emblazoned with the laughing face of the sun. It perfectly emulated Peanuts’ own raw, hearty, infectious laugh.
These are in-progress and documentary photos taken by Lisa Wells during the photo shoot for the Bahamian Project. They are not the final images