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Benny Turner

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Benny Turner
Background information
Born (1939-10-27) October 27, 1939 (age 84)
Gilmer, Texas, United States
LabelsOne-derful, Nola Blue, Inc.

Benny Turner (born October 27, 1939)[1] is an American blues musician. He is the younger brother of Freddie King and was the bass guitarist for the Freddie King Band. Later, Turner joined Mighty Joe Young as the bass guitarist of his band before becoming the bandleader for Marva Wright for 20 years.[2] After many years as a sideman, Turner started his solo career.

Early years[edit]

Turner was born in Gilmer, Texas, on October 27, 1939.[1] He and his older brother Freddie King learned how to play guitar from their mother, Ella Mae (King) Turner, and her brothers Leon and Leonard King. In the 1950s, Turner moved to Chicago with his family.[3]


Turner started his music career playing guitar for The Kindly Shepherds, a gospel group on the Nashboro Records label. He joined the group on several recordings, playing guitar and accompanying background vocals. At the time, Turner also started playing with his brother at Chicago clubs such as the Squeeze Club and Walton's Corner, where he met Dee Clark and was invited to join him and his R&B band on the road.[4]

Benny and Dee Clark on stage at the Apollo Theater

Later, Turner would play bass for The Soul Stirrers. He eventually rejoined his brother's band and toured regularly, performing with musicians such as Eric Clapton, John Fogerty and Grand Funk Railroad.[5] While at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973, members of Freddie's band were asked to sit in with Memphis Slim, and Turner played bass on the recording of "Memphis Slim – Very Much Alive and in Montreux."[4]

Following the death of Freddie King in 1976, Turner became deeply depressed and was hospitalized. After two years of seclusion, he was convinced to start performing again and joined Mighty Joe Young's band, which he played in for eight years. During that time, Turner and Young appeared in the 1981 film Thief while playing live at the Wise Fools Pub in Chicago.[6] Later, Turner moved to New Orleans and became the bandleader for Marva Wright in 1986, playing with her band for 20 years.[2][7]

After Wright's death in 2010, Turner went on to release four albums including his critically acclaimed 2014 album of original work called Journey.[8] He also rejoined other members of the original Freddie King band for a brief tour celebrating King's 80th birthday.[9][10] His 2016 album When She's Gone was dedicated to his mother Ella Mae and featured a collection of six original reissues from his album, Blue and Not So Blue, and four blues standards. His autobiography, Survivor : The Benny Turner Story,[11] was published on July 8, 2017.[12] Also in 2017, Turner released his latest album, My Brother's Blues.[13] This award-winning album is a tribute to big brother Freddie King and features 11 tunes from Freddie's songbook that are of special significance to Benny. In 2019, Turner joined forces with longtime friend and fellow Chicago musician Cash McCall to record Going Back Home,[14] revisiting their days of playing on Chicago's South and West Sides.

On October 27, 2019, Turner celebrated his 80th birthday at the Inaugural Lone Star Blues and Heritage Festival in Grapeland, Texas. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas officially recognized this milestone and Turner's many contributions to music and music history.

Awards and accolades[edit]

Benny Turner in 1975
  • 2014 Offbeat Best of the Beat Awards - Nominee for Best Blues Album - Journey[15]
  • 2015 International Songwriting Competition - Finalist for Blues Song - Breakin' News
  • 2016 Blues Blast Music Awards - Nominee for Soul Blues Album - When She's Gone[16]
  • 2016 Independent Blues Awards Awards - Nominee for Best Traditional Blues CD - When She's Gone [17]
  • 15th Independent Music Awards - Winner for Blues Song - I Can't Leave[18]
  • 16th Independent Music Awards - Nominee for Tribute CD - My Brother's Blues[19]
  • 17th Independent Music Awards - Nominee for Blues Album - Going Back Home[20]
  • 2018 Global Music Awards - Silver Medal for Outstanding Achievement - My Brother's Blues[21]
  • Turner received the 2017 Jus Blues Music Foundation "Little Milton Lifetime Bluesman Award"[22]
  • Turner was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame in 2017[23]
  • October 27, 2017, was named "Benny Turner Day" in Gilmer, Texas, by proclamation of Mayor Tim Marshall[24]
  • Turner was a nominee in the 39th Blues Music Awards in the Instrumentalist-Bass category[25]
  • 2018 Blues Blast Music Awards - Nominee for Male Blues Artist of the Year and Soul Blues Album-My Brother's Blues[26]
  • 2018 Independent Blues Awards - Winner for Best Traditional Blues Band
  • 2018 International Songwriting Competition - Finalist for Blues Song - What's Wrong With The World Today
  • 25th Living Blues Awards, Critics' Poll - Winner for Most Outstanding Musician (Bass)[27]
  • 26th Living Blues Awards, Critics' Poll - Winner for Most Outstanding Musician (Bass)[28]
  • 2019 Blues Blast Music Awards - Nominee for Traditional Blues Album - Going Back Home[29]
  • 2019 Independent Blues Awards - Nominee for Best Traditional Blues CD - Going Back Home[30]


Album Artist Release Date Credit
Gives You a Bonanza of Instrumentals Freddie King 1965 Bass
Very Much Alive and in Montreux Memphis Slim 1973 Bass
Larger Than Life Freddie King 1975 Bass
Freddie King (1934-1976) Freddie King 1977 Bass
Takin' Care of Business Freddie King 1985 Electric bass, bass
Live in Antibes, 1974 Freddie King 1988 Bass
Live at the Wise Fools Pub Mighty Joe Young 1990 Guitar (bass)
The Blues Is... Otis Clay 1991 Vocals, bass
The Gospel Truth Otis Clay 1993 Guitar, background vocals, bass
When the Gates Swing Open Otis Clay 1994 Guitar, background vocals, bass
Let the Good Times Roll Freddie King 1994 Bass
Born with the Blues Marva Wright 1996 Bass
Mighty Man Mighty Joe Young 1997 Guitar (bass)
Bluesiana Mama Marva Wright 1999 Bass
Paris Mississippi Blues Memphis Slim 2005 Bass
Do Right Woman: The Soul of New Orleans Marva Wright 2006 Bass
After the Levees Broke Marva Wright 2007 Producer, arranger, guitar (bass), background vocals
A Tribute to My Brother Freddie King Benny Turner 2011 Primary artist
Journey Benny Turner 2014 Primary artist
When She's Gone Benny Turner 2016 Primary artist, producer, composer, bass, guitar, vocals[31]
My Brother's Blues Benny Turner 2017 Primary artist[32]
Going Back Home Benny Turner/Cash McCall 2019 Producer, primary artist, bass, guitar, vocals[33]


  1. ^ a b "Bio". Bennyturner.com. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  2. ^ a b Nerl, Daryl (March 26, 2015). "Reunion band channels fiery guitarist Freddie King". The Morning Call. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Kirby, Mary (February 20, 2014). "Blues man Benny Turner returns to Gilmer roots". Gilmer Mirror. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Benny Turner Biography". Nola Blue, Inc. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "Benny Turner: Stepping into the Spotlight" (PDF). Living Blues. August 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  6. ^ "Benny Turner". IMDB. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  7. ^ Limnios, Michalis (April 20, 2016). "Benny Turner: Blues Groove Never Gone". Blues GR. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  8. ^ "Benny Turner". NAMM. March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  9. ^ Jones, Scott (July 1, 2014). "Gilmer native seeks more recognition for musical family". CBS. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  10. ^ Houston, Daniel (December 17, 2015). "Members of Freddie King's original touring band reunite for Richardson concert". Dallas News. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  11. ^ Dahl, Bill (8 July 2017). "Survivor: The Benny Turner Story". Amazon.com. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  12. ^ [1][permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "Benny Turner – My Brother's Blues | Album Review". Bluesblastmagazine.com. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  14. ^ "Benny Turner and Cash McCall-Going Back Home | Album Review". 15 June 2019.
  15. ^ "OffBeat Magazine's Best of the Beat Awards 2014". OffBeat Magazine. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  16. ^ "2016 Blues Blast Music Awards – Blues Blast Magazine". Bluesblastmagazine.com. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  17. ^ "Independent Blues Awards Announced! – Making A Scene!". Making A Scene!. 2016-06-29. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  18. ^ "The 15th Independent Music Awards Winners - Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  19. ^ "The 16th Independent Music Awards Nominees - Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  20. ^ "The 17th Independent Music Awards Nominees & Winners". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  21. ^ "Global Music Awards - Music Competition". Globalmusicawards.com. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  22. ^ "2017 Honorees". JUS BLUES MUSIC FOUNDATION. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  23. ^ "Chicago Blues Hall of Fame ® Artists inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame ® on October 15th. 2017 includes:: Eddie C. Campbell Holle Thee Maxwell Gene "Daddy G" Barge Barry Goldberg Carl Weathersby Merle Perkins Big Llou Johnson Billy Branch John Primer Benny Turner Katherine Davis Carlos Johnson Abb Locke Mary Lane Zora Young Felton Crews Shirley Johnson Smiley Tillmon Peaches Staten Lil' Ed Williams Mike Garrett James "Pookie" Young". Blueshalloffame.com. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  24. ^ "October 27 named "Benny Turner Day" in Gilmer, TX". Prlog.org. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  25. ^ "BLUES MUSIC AWARDS - Blues Foundation". blues.org. Retrieved 2018-05-04.
  26. ^ "2018 Blues Blast Music Awards Nominees – Blues Blast Magazine". 4 June 2018. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  27. ^ "25th Annual Living Blues Awards (2018) - Living Blues Magazine". Living Blues Magazine. 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  28. ^ "26th Annual Living Blues Awards (2019)". Living Blues Magazine. 2019-08-03. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  29. ^ "2019 Nominees | The 2019 Blues Blast Music Awards". Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  30. ^ "2019 Independent Blues Awards!". Making A Scene!. 2019-09-03. Retrieved 2020-04-01.
  31. ^ "Benny Turner Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  32. ^ "My Brother's Blues". Amazon.com. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  33. ^ "Going Back Home". Amazon.com.