Flashback: Johnnie Taylor estate dispute (TX)

Johnnie Taylor was an accomplished singer born in Crawfordsville, Arkansas.  During his almost 40-year career, Taylor achieved success in genres ranging from rhythm and blues, soul, blues and gospel to pop, doo-wop and disco.  So we’re dating ourselves, but we well remember 1976 and Disco Lady!

In May 2000, Taylor died of a heart attack at age 66 in Dallas.  Upon his death, Taylor’s six acknowledged children found themselves in a probate dispute with first a woman also claiming to be Taylor’s daughter who was later joined by two men claiming to also be Taylor’s sons.  Ultimately, Dallas County Probate Judge Nikki DeShazo ruled in favor of the three and the estate was divided amongst the nine children and his widow.

An episode of Investigation Discovery’s The Will recently brought this dispute to our attention.  Here also is a November 2002 Jet article providing additional info on the case:

Fonda Bryant has been in court for two years fighting to prove that she is the daughter of the late singer Johnnie Taylor.

And now the court battle is over. She and two other people were recently declared children of the famous singer whose ’60s and ’70s hits include Who’s Making Love, Disco Lady, Cheaper To Keep Her and Jody’s Got Your Girl And Gone. Disco Lady, a No. 1 hit in 1976, was the music industry’s first platinum record.

Dallas County (Texas) Probate Judge Nikki DeShazo recently ruled in favor of Bryant, 41, of North Carolina, Tyrone R. Hooker, 39, of Missouri and Schiffvon Taylor Brown, 39, of Louisiana, entitling them to a share of Taylor’s estate.

“It is like a big weight has been lifted off my shoulder,” said Bryant, a former sales and accounting assistant for a local radio station in Charlotte. “I had to wait 41 years for the legal aspect to be proven. If it hadn’t been for DNA, we wouldn’t have won.”

Taylor died at age 62 of a heart attack at his residence in Duncanville, a south Dallas suburb (JET June 19, 2000).

The ruling gives Bryant, Brown and Hooker one-ninth of Taylor’s estate. They will share equally with six children born into Taylor’s two marriages or whom he regularly and openly acknowledged as his children.

The three siblings did not know one another until they joined together in the lawsuit. Taylor and their mothers never married.

Attorney Mark McCraw of McKinney, TX, who represented the three, presented DNA evidence to the judge during the recent hearing. A doctor with a genetic-testing firm certified that the results showed there to be a “99.9999 percent probability” that Taylor was their father.

DNA samples from two of Taylor’s known children was compared to tissue from the three disputed heirs. McCraw explained.

The final value of Taylor’s estate has not been determined, and it may take months or even years to do so. Some reports however, indicate it might be more than $1 million.

Taylor had a $1.5 million home in Dallas, a Mercedes, jewelry, including a Rolex, 3 acres of land in Hawaii and gold records, the Charlotte Observer reported.

Brown, 39, never met her famous father. “We pretty much kept it hush-hush,” she said. “My mother was young at the time. I had a birth certificate all of my life with his name on it. The first time I saw him was on the Disco Lady album cover. My mom brought the album cover out on the porch and said `This is what your dad looks like. You look just like your dad,” said Brown, the owner of a family-owned day care business.

Hooker, who is a professional singer and opened for his famous dad years ago, notes: “I loved my daddy and he shared his music with me. He wasn’t perfect, no one is. I had a lot of respect for him. I don’t have a lot of bad things to say. I’ve always had a positive outlook on him.” Hooker whose stage name is T.J. Hooker Taylor, has a self-produced CD, Like Father, Like Son with the tune 10 Ways To Keep A Good Woman and is doing a concert tribute to Taylor.

Bryant, who never met her father but talked to him on the phone for the first time when she was 28, said: “He’s not here to take responsibility for all this mess. Once again he put us through something that could have been avoided had he just been a man and took care of his responsibility.”

She noted, “So many times I wanted to just give up the court fight, but my mom, Peggye Bryant Edwards, kept me going. She told me, `You are his child. You will win.’”


Three people declared children of famed singer Johnnie Taylor
November 18, 2001


  • Laverne

    Johnny Taylor was Not the Father of these Bastard Ugly kids Why didn”t they come forward and the other 2 while Johnny Taylor was Alive, Why would the Court Award them Anything ?
    In Fact he asked that Girl’s Mother about her being his Daughter. and she Tells Him it only Takes One Time, If Johnny Taylor Admitted that he had 6 children, I am sure if He Had Believed that those 3 were His He would have said they were His , He knew that those money Grubbing Bastards were Not His, The legal system in this Country is a Bunch of Bullshit (period) !!!!!! There are Skeezers out here that Target Entertainers for Sex Only So that they can Claim they Had A Kid so that they can swindle them Out of Some Cash ,They have Always been Out here, and if THE SO-CALLED KEEPS GIVING IN TO THEM IT WILL NEVER STOP ! If these ( KIDS) ARE NOT REGONIZED

    ‘t that

  • Donna

    That’s exactly why DNA exists and the ability to confirm paternity 100% probability. Johnny may not have CLAIMED the 3 children because of his OWN PERSONAL reasons. However, that doesn’t negate the fact that they are HIS children CONFIRMED by DNA testing. And they have just as much entitlement to the as Johnny’s other 6 children. If anyone is at fault it’s definitely Johnny not the children. And anyone that goes along with this bullshit ain’t shit!!!!!!

  • kamwick

    Wow, why the over the top anger? Must be a friend of one of those greedy “acknowledged” children. Don’t believe in science? Think that the gummint is capable of such a conspiracy? How about spending time doing a little research instead of putting down folks who wanted to find out if he really was their father? Those kids deserve to be acknowledged as his children. One of them carries music in his own right. He also appeared to be genuinely nice human being, unlike the longtime “friend” and actual half-brother who disowned him on the witness stand. The way the rest of the greedy family treated them is shameful. At least these three siblings have now found each other, and that’s a beautiful thing. You’re also blaming a 15 year old child for being a “moneygrubber” simply because she had the audacity to get pregnant by the great Johnny Taylor. Probably the reason he didn’t “acknowledge” them is because he didn’t want to take financial responsibility, having already six “acknowledged” children.

    Maybe you should take a deep look into your own heart to see where that ugly anger comes from.

  • Christy Marks

    Fonda Bryant, you and your mother should be ashamed of yourselves! Why wait till this man passes away and then keep up all this mess. Trashy!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1612686708 Shawn L. Bushway

    You have it backwards – why didn’t Johnnie Taylor acknowledge his kids before he died? Why did he force them to go to court to prove their legitimacy? Considering the value of the estate there’s not a lot of money to be spread around and so I’m sure there was more value to being acknowledged than whatever money they received after taxes and lawyer fees.

  • Lamont M Pearson

    How in the hell can you call someone elses children ugly and bastards Lavern?do you know Johnnie and his kids personally?if not then shut the hell up up i bet your kids are more uglier than anybody elses.You don’t like that huh good that’s what you get for talking about people you don’t know idiot?

  • solofromtoronto

    Your an idiot

  • hilda m morris

    What’s done on the dark ,will come to the LIGHT. I AM GLAD THEY all ,a least know of one another.
    We all have opinions,and freedom of speech , SO: I am darn glad they were acknowledged
    DNA, is an proven scientific evidence, you did what you did!!!!!!
    Just wondering, about that DNA they got from the daughter of his second,Uummmm, found genetic mutation, but the three unacknowledged,all had 99.999% Jhonny Taylor’s DNA ..
    “”WHO’S MAKING LOVE TO YOUR OLD LADY,while your out making love”

  • aaronna

    WHY DIDN;T THEIR MOTHERS STAND UP WHILE THE KIDS WERE YOUNG,they didn’t have a problem sleeping with him and probably trying to get pregnant…they should have had more pride about themselves and demanded from Johnny then not wait until he dies and then go after a piece of the estate…

  • aronna

    i do believe that their mothers should have demanded more when they were young , so their moms are at fault also cos after all a man will only do what you allow him to do and they allowed Johnny to slide a;; those years and then when he died they all come out of the wood works wanting a piece of the money that he left….if i were those kids I wouldn’t have wanted a dime after his death …so evidently it was ALL about the money….They should have demanded more acknowledgement when he was young and when they were young.

  • aaronna

    their mothers should have demanded the acknowlegement themselves and then the kids would have not had to go to courts after his death…because after all a man will do what a woman allows him to do ..so do not put all the blame on Johnny …

  • moose17

    If women would just keep their legs closed to married men. Pain and suffering such as this situation would not happen.

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  • Debdessaso

    ummm…..I don’t think women get themselves pregnant….