|Birth name||Thomas Eugene Turk|
|Died||August 4, 1981
Las Vegas, Nevada
Tommy Turk was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania in 1927. His father was a coal miner and self-taught trumpeter. Tommy's elder brother, Rob, was also a trumpeter. Tommy graduated from Conemaugh High School.
In the 1940s Turk became established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as part of the Deuces Wild quintet. Turk did notable playing for Jazz at the Philharmonic and can be heard on several CDs with Charlie Parker. In 1949 he was a member of Flip Phillips and His Orchestra, together with John D'Agostino, Buddy Morrow, Kai Winding, Sonny Criss, Mickey Crane, Ray Brown and Shelly Manne, and on December 1, 1949, he led a group including Ray Brown and Buddy Rich that recorded four tunes under the name "Tommy Turk and His Orchestra". In the 1950s he was a member of Deuces Wild, a popular Pittsburgh jazz band.
He also recorded with Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Flip Phillips around the same time. For many years Turk led a quartet that played at the Point View Hotel in Brentwood, Pennsylvania. In 1972 he performed at the Pittsburgh jazz festival with a band led by Roy Eldridge.
Many years later, Turk was living and performing in Las Vegas. On August 4, 1981, he was fatally shot by robbers at a tavern in that city. The Pittsburgh Press reported that Turk was "shot in the head for no apparent reason as he and other patrons lay on the floor of a tavern liquor store during a holdup." One eyewitness reported that Turk had difficulty lying flat and did not take out his wallet quickly enough for the killer. Four gang members were charged in relation to the killing. The 15-year-old who shot Turk was made eligible for parole in 2005. Turk was survived by his wife and two sons.
- The-Truth!!! Asterik. Recorded in concert, June 23, 1977
- "Tommy Turk Killer Gets Life" (May 14, 1982) The Pittsburgh Press, p. A-7.
- Leonard, Vince (August 6, 1981) "Trombonist Turk Slain in Las Vaegas" Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, p. 6.
- Pittsburgh University Master's Thesis at the Wayback Machine (archived June 9, 2007)
- Verve Records Discography 1949
- Jazz Records, 1942-1965: A Discography By Jørgen Grunnet Jepsen
- Lady Sings the Blues at Discogs.com
- Frushell, Richard (December 12, 2010) "The Next Page / An Upright City: Pittsburgh and the jazz bass" Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Garland, Hazel (June 24, 1972) "Jazz Festival Was Great But Attendance Could Be Better" Pittsburgh Courier, p. 16.
- "After 24 years, Las Vegas murderer has chance for parole" (December 15, 2005) Las Vegas Sun.