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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Benny Turner Real Blues Band with Charles Moore

Benny Turner, as you may or may not know, is the brother of Blues legend Freddie King. Even less known, he is also second cousin to Johnny Mathis. He is immensely talented, however, one of his most striking qualities is that he is unwilling to "toot his own horn" and constantly looking to give credit to others. Benny was born in Gilmer, Texas and grew up in the shadow of his famous brother, Freddie King, who always dreamed of becoming a great guitar player. Freddie got his start with a cheap Roy Rogers box guitar. He and his little brother Benny would listen for a few hours a day to old radio programs like "In the Groove." Benny and Freddie, as they grew up, listened to Blues and Swing Music by such artists as Louis Jordan, Charles Brown and later, T-Bone Walker. These Blues greats became the influence of the music that Freddie King started to produce and Benny Turner continues today Later, Freddie and Benny's family moved to Chicago where Freddie became serious about becoming a great Blues player. At the time Benny had no intention of becoming a star but simply enjoyed participating in his brother's success. Freddie established himself in Chicago as a Blues player and put a band together. His band played in local Chicago clubs such as the B-Bop Bar, the Squeeze Club and Castle Rock. Freddie, recognizing Benny's immense talent, pulled him into the band, recognizing that his brother was every bit as talented in singing and playing the bass as Freddie was at singing and playing the guitar. Freddie was very serious about becoming a Blues player, while Benny was satisfied in starring in a supporting role. The talent was there for Benny to be a star, but he unselfishly chose to stay in the background and help make his brother into a Blues legend. While working with Freddie at Squeeze Club, Benny had the opportunity to meet Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Matt Murphy and it soon became apparent that Benny would become a great Blues player and singer in his own right. It was Freddie's dream (and one that Benny did not share) that his baby brother would one day be a star in his own right because he recognized that Benny had all the right stuff. After playing in Chicago for a few years at the Squeeze Club, a new Black club called Walton's Corner opened. It was upscale, serving Cantonese food and offering first class music. Freddie's band, with Benny, became the house band. While working there, Freddie was approached by Sonny Thompson, who took Freddie to Cincinnati, Ohio to produce Freddie's first hit, Hideaway. Few people knew that Benny helped write the song and received no credit. In those days it was not uncommon that musicians were often not recognized as writers and Benny was satisfied for his brother to receive the credit. While at Walton's Corner, Benny also had the opportunity to meet a then local R & B singer named Dee Clark. They became friends and Dee invited Benny to go on the road with him while Freddie was in Cincinnati recording what would be his first great hit. Benny went on the road with Dee Clark and had his first, but certainly not last, experience with life on the road. He played in Dee's band with Phil Upchurch, one of the best jazz players today. As Freddie was making his move to become a great recording star, Benny went his own way and continued touring and eventually, Benny was approached by Leroy Crume and Richard Gibbs who played with Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers to play gospel music. At the time, bass guitar was unheard of in Gospel music and Sam Cooke opposed. However, the group's manager, Jesse Farley, recognized the contribution bass guitar could make to gospel music and hired Benny. Benny was the first bass player in gospel, but is proud to give credit to his friend, Percel Dunbar, whom he admires for being the second bass player in gospel with the Swanee Quintet. Unfortunately, Percel died in an automobile accident while enroute to Chicago from Gary, Indiana. Today, bass players are an integral part of Gospel music and Benny Turner was the first. When Benny was out touring, one day he was listening to WLAC out of Nashville, on Randy's show when he heard Hideaway, a song he had helped write. The song became an instant hit. He re-joined his brother, Freddie King, and went on the road with him. They played the APOLLO Theater in New York, Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. and the Regal Theater in Chicago. They were at the top of the world, playing on the same bill as Dionne Warwick, B.B. King Solomon Burke and Eric Clapton, and too many other others to list. The dream came to an end in December, 1976, when Freddie King unexpectedly passed away when he was only 42. Benny, devastated by his brother's death, literally turned into a recluse for 2 years. Eventually, Blues great Mighty Joe Young got Benny to play with him. Benny credits Mighty Joe with bringing him back into the the mainstream of the Blues. Benny played with Mighty Joe for approximately 8 years until Joe was forced to quit working for a while due to medical reasons. Benny decided to make a new start and moved to New Orleans and met Marva Wright, a legendary New Orleans Blues singer. She hired Benny and shortly thereafter, he became her bandleader, a position he has held for over 10 years. He is proud to call Marva his friend and will cherish their friendship and working relationship for the rest of his life. Freddie King always recognized his baby brother's potential to be a legendary Blues performer on his own. Benny never took it seriously because his brother was the star. Freddie always thought he would have time to make sure Benny was recognized in his own right but time ran out. Benny, not looking to be in the limelight, but as a tribute to his brother, decided that he would make his own CD as a tribute to his brother's dreams and expectations of him. If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

1 comment:

  1. Saw them at the New Orleans French Quarter Fest. They kicked ass. Really awesome. Couldn't have been more blown away if I'd met Marie Lavou.