BIG JOE TURNER
Born Joseph Vernon Turner Jr on 18th May 1911,
in the mid west
City of Kansas Missouri.
His youth followed the familiar route of singing in church choirs.
Later he became known as the singing bar tender accompanied
by pianist Pete Johnson in Kansas City bars.
East coast promoter John Hammond brought Joe & Pete to New York for the now legendary "Spirituals to Swing " concert on 8th December 1938.
Big Joe and Pete Johnson had a major hit with Roll Em Pete which Turner recorded several times under various guises.
Both Joe and Pete stayed on in New York and appeared at John Hammonds Cafe Society.
He went on to make many Appearances with great bands
like Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
Early recordings were on Vocalion but in 1951 Joe was signed by the Ertegun brothers to their Atlantic Records.
Hits like Honey Hush, Chains Of Love, Flip Flop & Fly,
TV Mama & Shake Rattle & Roll followed.
Described in many ways - boogie woogie singer, blues shouter, rhythm & blues singer & jazz artist but never rocknroll star.
Its ironic that Bill Haley had a world wide massive hit with Shake Rattle & Roll and in his very own words - "Joe was my idol"
Being the type of person that he was, Joe bore no
grudge to Bills success and the infact the two became good friends.
By 1956 a new younger breed had emerged and whilst Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Chuck Berry & Jerry Lee Lewis were all great in their own right.
Make no mistake
Big Joe Turner is the daddy of em all
Joe died on the 24th November 1985 in Los Angeles having suffered for some time from a stroke & diabetes.
I was working in New York in November 1985 and
a benefit concert advertised in aid of Joe's failing
health at The Lone Star Cafe in Manhattan and had
arrangements to go and give my support.
Sadly Joe died immediately before the gig and the whole thing was turned into a celebrity event with massive media coverage on his death and I was unable to get in.
Shame the massive media coverage wasn't given earlier when he needed it !
Finally the words of Armet Ertegun ...
"Joe is an heroic legendary figure
and I am
much the better for having known him"