Taylor began his career in 1961, as a pianist and singer with several groups in Toronto. He also made his first recordings in 1961, for the Audiomaster label. The following year, Taylor's "At The High School Dance", a single for Amy-Mala Records, was a minor success, and the singer decided to move to Detroit for better opportunities.
In Detroit, Taylor was hired by Motown Records in 1964 as a songwriter. Among Taylor's hit co-compositions and co-productions for Motown are "Love Child" and "I'm Livin' in Shame" by Diana Ross & the Supremes, "I'll Turn to Stone" by Four Tops, and "All I Need" by The Temptations. Eventually Motown head Berry Gordy, Jr. gave Taylor a record deal. Taylor recorded several singles for the V.I.P. label, including "Poor Girl", "Let's Go Somewhere", and "Ladybug (Stay Away From That Beatle)".