For over seventy years, John Berkely "Peanuts" Taylor has been entertaining locals and tourists the world over. It all started at the age of four, when John was walking past the Paul Meeres club and saw Paul himself practicing at the front of his famous club on Market and Fleming Streets minutes away from downtown Nassau. He mischievously shouted out, "I can sing and dance better than you", to which Paul Meeres replied, "A little peanut like you?" That answer prompted John to show off his stuff, and the name "Peanuts" stuck from that very day.
At an early age, Peanuts suffered the loss of his mother, and around that same time, his father left The Bahamas to work on contract in the southern United States as most men did during those years. His grandmother, Ethel Stubbs stepped in and showered Peanuts with the love and care that he needed. As a student of the Our Lady's Catholic School, he would spend his afternoons hanging around the neighborhood enjoying the music played by musicians who lived in the area. The "Paul Meeres" was a club located just around the corner from the school and became a favorite hangout.
Peanuts started singing and dancing at the "Paul Meeres" at the age of four, and around 1940, had the good fortune to perform for the Duke and Duchess of Windsor during their stay at Government House, downtown Nassau. His first big break came when George Symonette asked him to sit in for his drummer who was ill. For the fifteen years or so prior, Peanuts was not aware of his drumming talents for which he has now become so well known the world over. He, up to that point had sung and danced at clubs like Jungle Club, Confidential, Junkanoo Club, and Spider Web to name a few. The encounter with George Symonette, however, introduced Peanuts to the world of drumming and as a result, to the world.
In 1956, he opened for Nat King Cole and the Mills Brothers in California. He also appeared on The Johnny Carson Show, The Steve Allen Show, The Jack Parr Show, and The Ed Sullivan Show to name a few. Peanuts also composed the theme song for the movie "Calypso Island" during the late fifties. Major networks like CBC. and the BBC all featured Peanuts on television programs aired between the late fifties up to the early eighties.
The local and international print media, among them Newsweek, The Telegram (Canada), and The New Yorker, also ran many feature articles on Peanuts..
Peanuts made perhaps his greatest contribution as a show club owner, however. His first club, "The Tropicana", opened in 1957 followed by "Goombay" in 1960 then "Drumbeat Club" in 1964. Years after the closing of these clubs, he would re-open "The Drumbeat" again at The Nassau Beach Hotel in 1975 and subsequently at its final location near the British Colonial Hotel downtown Nassau. All of his clubs would feature artists like Eloise Lewis, Ritchie Delamore, Chickie Horne, Veronica Bishop, Jim Duncombe, King Pedro, Wendell Stuart, and countless other Bahamian stars. In addition, fire dancers, limbo dancers, and other local show dancers made up for an exciting native revue. He along with King Eric & His Knights ruled the show club industry in Nassau for many years.
Many honors have been bestowed upon this most distinguished entertainer/entrepreneur. Amidst them is that of (MBE) Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an award granted by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II; the Cacique Award by the Ministry of Tourism, the Legend Award, and the Merit of Honor Award. The most recent award, "Laureate Seal of Honor" was presented to him by the National Trade Union of Cuban Culture in conjunction with the agency, TURARTE. Peanuts, indeed, has earned his long list of awards. As a well respected citizen he was also made a Justice of the Peace in 1999.
Peanuts got involved in the recording business for a time and produced many local artists and himself. But by far, his fame came about as a result of his musicianship and showmanship. In 1999, Peanuts appeared at the "Rain Forest Theatre". That show was the last in that show room to feature local entertainers.
The seaport in downtown Nassau, on occasion, features Peanuts as tourists arrive for their vacation. Peanuts continue to perform whenever the opportunity arises. Each performance gives a snapshot of the young, tiny peanut that danced his way into hearts over seventy years ago.