FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mark Murray
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“Uncle John” Turner
August 20, 1944 – July 26, 2007
Legendary Texas Blues Drummer Dies at 62
B.B King once exclaimed, “Man, I can set my watch to your time!”
Legendary Texas blues drummer “Uncle John” Turner died Thursday, July 26th, in Austin, Texas from complications related to hepatitis C. He was 62 years old.
Born in Port Arthur, Texas, Uncle John was a childhood friend and bandmate of legendary southeast Texas blues and rock guitarist, Johnny Winter. While playing drums with Winter in 1968, Turner convinced him to try a full-blown blues band format and sent for his friend Tommy Shannon to play bass. Success quickly followed, and the trio went on to record what many consider to be three of Johnny Winter’s finest albums: “The Progressive Blues Experiment,” “Johnny Winter,” and “Second Winter.” With fourth member Edgar Winter, they played Woodstock in 1969, as well as numerous other festivals and shows around the world.
After splitting with Johnny Winter in 1970, Uncle John moved to Austin, where he and Shannon formed Krackerjack, a band featuring a young Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. Throughout his long career, Turner played or recorded with many great artists, including B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.
Turner grew up in Port Arthur listening to Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Lazy Lester, and Jimmy Reed on the jukebox at the local hamburger juke joint. He started his musical career on guitar in 1957, switched to bass, and had evolved to playing drums in a band called the Nightlights when he met Johnny Winter. It was 1960 and both of their bands were playing at an OCAW (Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers) union children’s Christmas party.
They hooked up again in Houston in 1968, when Turner replaced drummer Jimmy Gillan in Winter’s soul music band at the ACT III. Turner convinced Winter to follow his heart and play the blues.
“Johnny wanted to play blues; he just had never been in a position to be able to,” Turner told Winter’s biographer. “We were the first guys that would go out on a limb with him and gamble for the future.”
During the 80’s and 90’s, Turner continued to shape Austin’s blues scene, playing with guitarist Alan Haynes and with Appa Perry’s Blues Power. A great friend and mentor to young blues artists during this time, Turner helped launch the careers of many Austin musicians, including Gary Clark, Jr., Erin Jaimes, Mike Keller, Eve Monsees, and Carolyn Wonderland.
In November of 2006, Uncle John Turner was reunited with Johnny Winter and Tommy Shannon during Winter’s show at Austin’s La Zona Rosa nightclub. It was the trio’s first live performance together in more than 20 years, and it proved to be a very special night for everyone lucky enough to witness the sold-out event.
A benefit concert planned for Uncle John Turner at Antone’s nightclub in Austin on August 1st will go on as scheduled. Johnny Winter, Tommy Shannon, and other friends and former band mates are among the performers scheduled to appear. Event profits will be used to offset medical bills and final arrangements, as well as to assist talented young blues artists. Additional information is posted online at www.uncathon.com .
Along with a guestbook for messages for Uncle John’s friends and family, information regarding donations and other pertinent details may also be found there. An additional memorial event is being planned; details are forthcoming.
Uncle John Turner is survived by his loving wife, Morgan.
If you have taken photos of Uncle John you would like to share,
please email to Beverly Howell.
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