Benny Turner and Real Blues
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Benny Turner and Real Blues

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Blues Soul




"Benny Turner & Friends bring CD Release Party to Richmond"

Sometimes a cold night can bring out the hottest show. Long time concert goers in Richmond know that every once in a while we get a reputation for not being the hardiest of souls. When it snows, people laugh at us because we can’t drive. Hell, sometimes when it rains, they level the same charge at us.

And when it’s cold outside, no one shows up to see a show.

Don’t tell that to the sold-out crowd that packed their way into downtown’s Capital Ale House to catch the CD release party for Benny Turner that also featured legendary guitarist Bob Margolin, and that indestructible force of nature known as The Nighthawks.

Separately, each of these artists were worthy of a trip out on a cold night, but together it would have taken an act of God to keep me away.

Benny Turner is one of those nice, quiet guys that’s been around the industry for years. Aside from being Freddie King’s younger brother (he played bass for King for years), he established himself as a sideman and band leader for Marva Wright as well as many other blues, soul, and gospel groups.

It has only been recently that Turner has let the spotlight shine on him (as was in evidence last night as he encouraged the other artists to take extended trips to the front while he was content to just play bass for them.

Benny Turner is a class act.

The show kicked off with a set from the DC based Nighthawks and they proceeded to take the opportunity to get the crowd into the show. The four-person juggernaut is comprised of Mark Wenner, Paul Bell, Johnny Castle, and Mark Stutso. The Nighthawks have a long and storied career in their own right and have even recently had their history featured in a new full length documentary.

After their set, the audience was primed and ready for the main event, and after a very short wait were rewarded by the return of the group and the addition of Bob Margolin and the man of the hour, Benny Turner himself.

From the first couple of bars, this Richmond audience was cheering (something many Richmond audiences don’t do) as the room was completely under Turner’s spell.

Turner blazed through a couple of songs from the new CD, When She’s Gone (previously reviewed here) and then launched into a version of Hideaway which was made famous by his older brother. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever heard a finer version of the song, including the original, than I did last night. Big Brother Freddie must have been throwing in some extra help from the afterlife because this was a divine interpretation.

From that point on, Turner could do no wrong as he played his heart out, sang, and even walked out into the audience singing (without a microphone) and playing bass at several tables and even on the dance floor.

He continued the pace for the next hour or so, with some of the most soulful sounds you can imagine. His take on Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine was a showstopper with Margolin’s guitar blistering the song and giving it an indelible stamp.

Let me pause to ask a simple question. Why is Benny Turner not headlining major festivals across the world?

Turner is not just an excellent musician, he’s not just an amazing singer, he is a flat out entertainer who knows how to work a crowd and give them a performance that they will never forget.

If you ever get a chance to catch this man, do not miss the opportunity. He will have you enthralled with the magic of his performance. But until you can catch him live, make sure you pick up his CDs and enjoy those.

Thank you for a great evening Benny, and hopefully we’ll catch you back here soon. - Professor Johnny P's Juke Joint

""Benny Turner - Stepping Into the Spotlight""

"On a recent balmy June evening, the sounds of smoking electric blues drifted through the open doors of the Little Gem Saloon on South Rampart Street in New Orleans. Inside, Benny Turner and his band, Real Blues - consisting this night of keyboardist Sam Joyner and drummer Larry Williams - performed as if to a packed stadium rather than an intimate, gleaming Art Deco-style restaurant. A dynamic front man, Turner frequently stepped off the jewel-box stage to sit at customers' tables, played bass solos behind his head, and even enlisted an enthusiastic audience member to pluck a string while he bent the note - all to the delight of the small but appreciative crowd, several of whom stayed for the entire three-hour set..." - Living Blues Magazine Issue #226

"Interview with legendary bluesman Benny Turner"

What do you learn about yourself from the blues and what does the blues mean to you?

Blues music is part of a family tradition for me; something I can remember back from my youngest years. My mother and her brothers used to sing and play the blues together, often as a quartet. It is the musical expression of an oppressed people, which links me to my ancestors and their suffering.

How do you describe Benny Turner sound and progress, what characterize your music philosophy?

My style and sound is completely self-taught. It is an expression of real feelings coming from my heart and soul. I had no mentors other than my mother and my uncles, which was old-school country blues music. As music progressed, I had to change and do some newer things to update my style yet still stay true to my roots. In a way, I consider myself lucky, because this forced me to develop my own style rather than imitating what I had learned. This was also true of other blues musicians during that time, including my brother Freddie King. They all played incorrectly “according to the book” but they were great players with a distinct sound. I always played bass with a pick, and later I began bending the strings when I played, too. After Freddie passed away, I missed the sounds I knew and loved growing up. I couldn’t find others to reproduce the sounds I remembered, so I began to play them myself. It all comes down to a feeling. I can’t play it unless I feel it.

Which is the most interesting period in your life? Which was the best and worst moment of your career?

Without a doubt, the years I shared in the band with Freddie King were the most interesting for me. He and I really grew up together musically as we experienced new things pretty much at the same time. I have been blessed with so many career highlights over the years, but one of my cherished memories is playing at the Travis County (Texas) Jail with Freddie (you can see a video excerpt as well as other videos on my website. We were both playing guitar, just the two of us without the band, like the old days. When Freddie died unexpectedly just after Christmas is 1976, it was truly my worst career moment and darkest personal day. It took years for me to be able to face the stage again without him.

What are some of the most memorable gigs and jams you've had? Which memories make you smile?

I have so many wonderful musical memories, starting way back with my first gig at The Apollo Theater, where I played with Dee Clark. This was a real milestone for me in many ways.

Not long after that, I had the opportunity to tour with the Soul Stirrers. I had always hoped to be able to play with a top-notch gospel group, and they were the best! I recently visited my old friend Leroy Crume, and we shared many smiles and laughs as we remembered those days. He and I are now the last two living members of the original group!

Once when the Freddie King band played at The Starwood Club in West Hollywood, a bunch of musical legends came out to hear our show, and we invited them all up on stage for what we later called “The Superjam”. I can tell you that “Hideaway” never sounded quite the same as that night when we had our band plus Eric Clapton on guitar, Noel Redding on bass and Buddy Miles on drums! Joe Cocker joined everyone on stage to sing a few songs, too.

When Paul McCartney wanted to celebrate his birthday, he and his wife Linda flew to Dallas, bought out the Whiskey River club, and had Freddie King play for his birthday. After the show, Paul said to me, “I thought I was the only one who played bass with a pick!”

Which meetings have been the most important experiences for you? What is the best advice ever given you?

In 1996, I had the opportunity to meet one of my musical heroes, keyboard player Charles Brown. Charles was in New Orleans, and Eugene Carrier (keyboard player for BB King) arranged for us to meet. Freddie and I used to race home from school to hear Charles Brown and Louis Jordan on the radio; we were huge fans. Not only was I able to meet Charles Brown, but we made plans for him to do studio work for my first CD, “Blue and Not So Blue.” I am very proud to have recently released my recording of his hit song, “Black Night” featuring Charles on piano. This is a proud and sentimental accomplishment that I treasure.

Howlin’ Wolf gave me some great advice that I still think about today. He said, “You can’t please everybody, but play your ass off for the people you do please!”

Are there any memories from recording time which you’d like to share with us?

There were five of us in a doo-wop group from school called The Chanters. One day after school we had been out singing and wandered over to Chess Records to peek in the windows and dream of being stars. Sonny Boy Williamson was on his way in and said, “Hey boys! What are y’all doing? Do you wanna come in and see how they make records? Come on in!” and invited us to come in and watch his recording session. We were in awe. That was such a cool experience!
My friend Paul Serrano contacted me to record in his studio with the actor, Stepin Fetchit. He performed “How Much is that Hound Dog in the Window?” and did his traditional “Uncle Tom” talk. That was a unique opportunity that I enjoyed very much.
I wrote a song for a recording session with Freddie at Leon Russell’s Skyhill Studio in Hollywood, but I don’t believe the session was ever released. The late JJ Cale was the engineer.

What do you miss most nowadays from the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of music?

I really miss my family singing and playing the blues; this includes listening to my mother and her brothers, as well as playing the blues with my brother Freddie. Lately I have been thinking about the early days a lot, and I’m working on re-creating that King family sound. I’ve been practicing the guitar (the way my mother taught me) and I’m working on a homemade comb kazoo, too. I am currently working on a new CD, and will pay tribute to my Uncle Leon King with one of the songs, and pay tribute to my mother with another song. They were the source of Freddie’s earliest blues influence, as well as mine, and I want to honor them accordingly.

My hope is that more and more people embrace the blues and support it. My fear is that authentic blues, which is pure American music, will be lost completely in future generations as it has already started to be lost today.

Do you believe in the existence of real blues nowadays? What means to be Bluesman?

I believe in the existence of real blues so much that I’ve named my band “Real Blues!” It is one of the highest honors for me to play the kind of music that was inspired by the broken backs of an oppressed people. As I have played the blues over the years through my own personal ups and downs, it has helped me understand why the blues was born. I can relate to those painful emotions, and I’m very serious about my musical delivery of those powerful feelings. Unfortunately, dedicating my career to the blues has sometimes meant being overlooked for gigs in favor of bands playing more popular musical styles, but I remain true to my heritage and my family’s tradition.
I am so proud that Freddie King was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012, in the “Early Influence” category! At long last, he has taken his place beside many giants whose careers were shaped by his influence. Likewise, in 2013 Albert King was inducted and Harry Belafonte spoke about the importance of blues music. That awards show gave me a better outlook and hope that future musicians will keep the blues alive.

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

I would love to see the completion of a comprehensive Blues Hall of Fame, which recognizes not only the “big names” in the history of blues, but also the sidemen (myself included!) who supported and helped define the style as it was shared onstage, night after night and year after year during the early days.

What are the lines that connect the Blues with Soul and continue to Jazz and Swing music?

The shuffle (rhythm) as first introduced by Louis Jordan bridges all of the musical styles together; from blues to rock to R&B and soul, as well as jazz and swing. He was a forerunner of rock and roll and a giant musical influence for many, including my brother Freddie and me!

What is the legacy of Freddie King to music todays? What are the secrets of Freddie King’s blues?

Freddie king continues to influence new generations of guitar players, both directly and through those who have imitated his style. Technically, he used a metal finger pick to achieve his sound, but the secret of his success is much deeper than that. Every time he got onstage, Freddie played directly from his soul. He never rehearsed a show in advance, but instead he played what he was feeling, and so it was dynamic and never felt “canned.” That approach lives on in me today with my shows. When you listen to Benny Turner and Real Blues, it is never the same show twice!

Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go for a whole day?

I would love to go way back in time to the back porch of my rural East Texas (Gilmer) home. Freddie and I would lay there beside my uncles’ number three washtub full of beer, looking under the back door as my mother and her brothers sang and played. We weren’t supposed to be listening, since those early blues lyrics could be nasty and not for our young ears, but we were drawn to the music and the feelings that went with it. We didn’t know it at the time, but the seeds were being planted that would grow into our musical careers! - Blues Greece

"Benny Turner - "Journey""

When it comes to influences, blood lines, and apprenticeships Benny Turner's had some of the best. He comes from a musical family that includes Ella Mae (King) Turner - his mother, Leon King - his uncle, and legendary bluesman Freddie King - his brother. His career includes the genres of doo-wop, R&B, gospel, soul and blues and in addition to working in Freddie's band he's worked with R&B legend Dee Clark and the Queen of N'awlins, Marva Wright.

"Journey" is Benny Turner's third release and it contains ten original tracks. On it, Benny plays bass, guitar and kazoo and he sings lead and background vocals. Joining him are: Charles Moore and Derwin "Big D" Perkins on rhythm guitar; Marc Stone on steel guitar; Jeffery Alexander on drums; Keiko Komaki, Josh Paxton and Tom Worrell on keyboards; Jason Mingledorff on saxophone; Barney Floyd and Mark Leuron on trumpet; Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes and Patrick Williams on harmonica and Deanna Bernard, Ellen Smith, Tara Alexander and Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes on background vocals.

On the opening track Benny's got some "Breakin' News" for his in he's breakin' up with her. Should she have a problem understanding that the background singers help make it quite clear with the very harmonic chorus line of "It's all over". Fun, upbeat track with outstanding rhythm, highlighted by the keyboards and horns.

"How I Wish" is one of the discs slow blues tracks, and songs of this style always make my favorites list. This one is highlighted by masterful piano and organ leads by Keiko, smooth guitar playing from Marc and awesome horn lead rhythm. At the end of the track there's a slight pause indicating the track might be over and then bam....Jason and Barney chime in with a fifteen second sax and trumpet solo that I could have easily listened to fifteen minutes more of.

If you like harmonica led tracks - and who doesn't - a smoker called "I Wanna Give It To You" is the track for you. This one features two - Patrick starts the track off with a wailing harp intro then Bruce takes over with several very well done harp leads throughout the rest of the track. In the meantime, Benny on the bass and Alexander on the drums - with some help from the horn section - are rockin' the rhythm.

On "Worn Out Woman" there's a line that I don't think there is a woman in the world - and many of us men, as well - will disagree with and it's that 'a woman's work is never done'. Amen! This is a beautifully done, very soulful ballad. Nothing fancy, just four outstanding musicians - Benny Turner, Derwin Perkins, Keiko Komaki and Jeffery Alexander - doing what they do best.....singing and playing their hearts out. Great stuff!

Benny's another one of that ever growing list of us men who have been hypnotized by a "Voodoo Lady". With the band in a relaxed and lazy groove behind him this soft ballad highlights Benny's superior vocal skills.

The disc closes with a track that reflects what way too many people sadly seem to be wondering - "What's Wrong With The World Today"? Benny's vocal deliverance of these seriously topical lyrics are as intense and emotional as the lyrics themselves. From the writing to the performance, this is an absolutely perfect song. While allowing it's message inside, this track - led by Keiko's consuming organ leading the way - is literally trance enhancing. I honestly cannot tell you how many times I've replayed it while writing this paragraph. Referring to this track as an anthem makes a lot more sense than calling it a song.

Other tracks on "Journey" include: "Don't You Ride My Mule", "I Want To Make It Right", "My Mother's Blues" and "My Uncle's Blues".

You can find out more about Benny Turner and get yourself a copy of "Journey" by going to And as I'm sure you all know by now, please tell him the Blewzzman sent you. -

"Blues Man Benny Turner returns to Gilmer roots"

A Pilgrim, Benny Turner, came to Gilmer Saturday seeking to touch base with the landmarks of his childhood, places where he roamed before the family moved to Chicago about 1950.

He remembered white frame buildings: Bruce School, Lake Providence School, East Springfield and Lake Providence churches, Turner Brothers Funeral Home, the Hot Inn, Owens Barber Shop, and other locations in the Black neighborhoods of Gilmer and Upshur County. He remembered Doc’s Hot Links and other stores on the eastern edge of Gilmer where thriving black-owned businesses catered to a segregated community.

He also remembered a packing plant with the locker plant where his brother, Freddie King, worked to earn his first guitar. With the country blues he learned from his uncle Linon King he would go to Chicago, explore the South- side Blues clubs, and develop a style which has influenced the Blues ever since.

Benny Turner, a Blues musician living and performing in New Orleans, has traveled the world since that first exploratory trip to Chicago with his mother and his brother, Freddie King.

His first trips to Europe were with the big brother who took him with him as a bass guitarist in his band.

Now the baby brother was back with his publicist, Sallie Bengtson. Together they were going to write a book on Benny Turner’s life with Freddie King.

First, Turner met with two Gilmer men who were classmates of his brothers when they attended Bruce School, Melvin and Norris Webb. Melvin brought with him to the meeting photos that were made where local African Americans gathered to eat, shop, dance, and otherwise relax together. Another photo was of a cousin as the escort to the homecoming queen. Memories flooded forth as the three men talked.

Turner told how Freddie got in trouble at Lake Providence School and Alton Granville made an example of him, spanking him in front of the student body at the small common school. He learned another teacher at the school, Mrs. Ruby Granville, was still alive at 95 and living in a nursing home.

Melvin Webb led the visitors to Lake Providence were they found Willie and Melba Moore at home. After learning the vacant lot at the corner of FM1650 and FM726 was the location where the school once existed, the Moores led Turner and others to the East Springfield Church and cemetery.

Finally, Benny Turner found a permanent marker from his past, the gravestone of Uncle Linon “Lonnie” King, the man who taught everyone in the family who wanted how to play the guitar. The church, now bricked over, looked different, but the wintry graveyard rang true to memory. He left the spot planning to return after a marker is placed on his mother’s empty spot.

At Bruce School, Turner had his picture made by the sign in front of the new brick school. Nothing remains of the white frame building where he jumped out of a second-story window when frightened by dynamite exploding during the construction of what is now Hwy. 300.

From there he traveled to Vinegar Hill, where the six members of the family lived in a small frame house. The home on Miller Street was gone, a vacant lot, like so many other houses which stood 65 years ago in the then-crowded neighborhood.

Next stop was the location of the locker and packing plant where Freddie earned his first guitar—now a multi-business complex.

Before leaving town, Turner made one more stop. He visited Mrs. Ruby Granville, and they talked together about teaching the brothers so many years ago.

For Turner and Ms. Bengtson, Chicago is the next stop on their pilgrimage of places where Freddie King and Benny Turner played the blues together.

It has already been almost 40 years since Freddie took ill after a gig in Dallas and died at Presbyterian Hospital on Christmas, 1976. But his influence lives on, and together they seek to bring those years alive again. The first stage of the journey has been completed. - The Gilmer Mirror

"Benny Turner - Journey (CD Review)"

Until relatively recently, Benny Turner was better known for the many luminaries that he so solidly backed on electric bass than his own skills as a front man. The Texas native first surfaced in Chicago beside his brother, guitar powerhouse Freddie King, though he took an early ‘60s sabbatical from Freddie’s employ to accompany R&B singer Dee Clark and then the Soul Stirrers (Turner helped introduce electric bass to the gospel arena). After Freddie’s untimely passing, Benny joined the band of another Windy City blues guitar great, Mighty Joe Young. Later on, he accompanied singer Marva Wright in New Orleans.

Turner’s vocal abilities are no secret. He made a handful of fine Windy City soul singles for the Leaner brothers’ One-derful! and M-Pac! Imprints during the early ‘60s, and, more recently he issued a pair of well-received blues CDs from his adopted New Orleans homebase that let the world-at-large know he was alive and well. Nonetheless, Journey is sure to open a lot of eyes, expertly capturing both of Benny’s chief talents. His bass locks into a seamless rhythmic undertow with drummer Jeffery “Jellybean” Alexander from the outset, and his vocals remain strong and uncommonly soulful. What’s more, he wrote and arranged everything on the set (there’s no producer officially listed, but there’s a strong probability he handled that as well).

Recorded in Slidell, La., Journey follows a stylistically varied route. The opening “Breakin’ News” and the slightly salacious “I Wanna Give It To You Baby” are bright, stinging shuffles, pushed by punchy horns (saxist Jason Mingledorff co-arranged them with Turner), and the more relaxed “How I Wish” is downright elegant in its laidback, enveloping ambiance. Benny draws lyrically from the mysterious Crescent City tradition on the sly mid-tempo “Voodoo Lady,” his sturdy bass line doubled by guitarist Marc Stone, while “Don’t You Ride My Mule” takes things in a considerably funkier direction, Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes’ harmonica winding deftly through the danceable backdrop.

Benny finds room on this collection to explore his enduring Texas blues roots, switching over to guitar for the considerably more rural (and wonderfully catchy) instrumental “My Mother’s Blues” (dedicated to Ella Mae [King] Turner, one of his earliest musical influences), his country blues-styled licks expertly seconded by pianist Keiko Komaki. “My Uncle’s Blues (Fannie Mae),” a lowdown grinder, pays tribute to the gent who taught both Benny and Freddie some of their first licks on guitar, Leon King.

12-bar material has never been Turner’s lone musical interest. “I Wanna Make It Right” simmers over a sinuous ‘70s soul groove, while his vocal on “Worn Out Woman” is riveting in its worldliness, laid over a mellow tempo and buttressed by Turner’s overdubbed backing vocals and Komaki’s synth strings.

The climactic track on the set, “What’s Wrong With The World Today,” is a moving minor-key message song, Benny passionately delivering its plea for non-violence over a small choir and a swirling, relentless drive. It’s a splendidly effective closer for one of 2014’s best contemporary blues releases.

This is one Journey you’ll want to make.
### - Chicago Blues Guide

""A Look Back at (some of) the great local live music in 2013""

... "At the French Quarter Festival, guitarist/vocalist Benny Turner with an all-star band that included Charles Moore and June Yamagishi on guitars showed how the blues and more are done in New Orleans – with unleashed enthusiasm and a ton of fun..." - The Louisiana Weekly


Dee Clark - "I Want to Love You" (single) (1961) - bass

Benny Turner - "Come Back Home" (single) (1963)

Freddie King - "Gives You a Bonanza of Instrumentals" (1965) - bass

Memphis Slim - "Very Much Alive and in Montreux" (1973) - bass

Freddie King - "Larger Than Life" (1975) - bass

Freddie King - "Freddie King 1934-1976" (1977) - bass

Freddie King - "Takin' Care of Business" (1985) - bass

Atlantic Blues:Chicago (various) (1986) - bass

Freddie King - "Live in Antibes, 1974" (1988) - bass

Freddie King - "Just Picking" (1989) - bass

Mighty Joe Young - "Live at the Wise Fools Pub" (1990) - bass

Bryan Lee - "The Blues Is..." (1991) - bass

Otis Clay - "The Gospel Truth" (1993) - bass, guitar, background vocals

Otis Clay - "When the Gates Swing Open" (1994) - bass, guitar, background vocals

Freddie King - "Let the Good Times Roll" (1994) - bass

Freddie King - "Live in Germany" (1995) - bass

Freddie King - "Key to the Highway" (1995) - bass

Marva Wright - "My Christmas Song" (1996) - bass

Marva Wright - "Born with the Blues" (1996) - bass

Freddie King - "Live at the Electric Ballroom, 1974" (1996) - bass

Benny Turner - "Blue and Not So Blue" (1997) - songwriter, producer, bass, vocals

Mighty Joe Young - "Mighty Man" (1997) - bass

Freddie King - "Texas Sensation" (1998) - bass

Marva Wright - "Bluesiana Mama" (1999) - bass

The Orleans Records Story (1999) - bass

Blues Deluxe (various - Live from 1980 Chicagofest) (1999) - bass   

Freddie King - "Ultimate Collection" (2001) - bass

Memphis Slim - "Paris Mississippi Blues" (2005) - bass

Montreux Blues Festival 1973 (various) (2006) - bass

Marva Wright - "Do Right Woman:The Soul of New Orleans" (2006) - bass

Blues Guitar Killers (various) (2006) - bass

Marva Wright - "After the Levees Broke" (2007) - bass, background vocals, producer, arranger, songwriter

Freddie King - "Texas Flyer: 1974-1976" (2010) - bass and vocal harmony

Benny Turner - "A Tribute to my Brother, Freddie King" (2011) - producer, arranger, bass, vocals

Freddie King - "The Blues is Rising" (2012) - bass

Benny Turner - "Journey" (2014) - producer, songwriter, bass, guitar, vocals

Benny Turner - "When She's Gone" (2016) - producer, songwriter, bass, guitar, vocals

Benny Turner - "My Brother's Blues" (2017) - producer, arranger, bass, guitar, vocals

Benny Turner & Cash McCall - "Going Back Home" (2019) - producer, bass, guitar, vocals



A veteran musician of more than 50 years, Benny Turner has played music all over the globe.  Content to be a sideman for most of his career, in 2010 Benny decided to take his rightful place in the spotlight on center stage.

Born in Gilmer, Texas, Benny and his older brother, blues legend Freddie King, learned to play guitar from their mother, Ella Mae (King) Turner and her brothers Leon and Leonard King.  The boys used to enjoy a radio show called “In the Groove,” where they heard the music of artists such as Louis Jordan, Charles Brown and later, T-Bone Walker. 

After the family moved to Chicago in the early 50’s, Freddie went in one direction and Benny pursued other opportunities that came his way. While best known today as a bass player, Benny played guitar during many of his gigs in the early years.  A last-minute request to sit in with Freddie’s band to cover for Robert Elem at the Squeeze Club gave Benny his first introduction to playing bass.

During the late 50’s Benny played guitar with gospel group The Kindly Shepherds, and is on a handful of their recordings for the Nashboro label.  He was also playing bass with Freddie King at legendary Chicago clubs such as the Squeeze Club and Walton’s Corner.  While at Walton’s Corner, Benny met R&B singer Dee Clark, and was invited to join him on the road.  Within a few days, life on the road began as Benny headed to The Apollo Theater in New York!  Benny played in the band with Phil Upchurch, and cherishes their friendship to this day.  It was an exciting time, during which Dee had his Billboard hit “Raindrops” (1961).

While on the road, Benny met Leroy Crume and Richard Gibbs, of the Soul Stirrers, and was invited to join their tour.  At that time, electric bass was unheard of in gospel music and it was controversial within the band, but the group’s manager, Jesse Farley, recognized his potential contribution and hired Benny.  That pioneering move laid the groundwork and inspiration for the gospel music of today, in which bass guitar plays an integral role.       

By the mid-to-late 60’s Benny returned to Chicago, where he continued to play locally and also made a handful of his own recordings for the One-Derful and M-Pac! Labels.  Not long after that, Benny re-joined his brother on the road, playing at major festivals and on the same bill as artists including Dionne Warwick, BB King, Solomon Burke, Eric Clapton and even opening for Grand Funk Railroad at Madison Square Garden in New York.  While at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973, members of Freddie’s band were asked to sit in with Memphis Slim, and Benny plays bass on the recording of that act, “Memphis Slim – Very Much Alive and in Montreux.”  Mickey Baker was part of that performance.

In December 1976, the dream became a nightmare.  Benny lost his band mate, best friend and big brother all at once, after Freddie’s untimely passing at age 42.  Completely devastated, Benny spent the next two years in isolation.  Finally, when Chicago bluesman Mighty Joe Young approached him, Benny gathered the courage to face the stage once again.  With barely enough stamina to make it through that first gig, Benny pushed forward and soon found himself in the mainstream of the blues once again.  One of the highlights of their time together was appearing in the 1981 film “Thief” while playing live at The Wise Fools Pub.  After eight fantastic years on the road together, Mighty Joe had to stop touring due to health issues, and Benny planned his next move.

Heading to New Orleans was the next significant turning point for Benny.  There, he met Marva Wright, “Blues Queen of New Orleans.”  He joined the band and served as Marva’s bandleader and bass player for more than twenty years.  Internationally recognized beyond the borders of New Orleans, Marva Wright and the BMW’s played all over the world in addition to being mainstays of the French Quarter music scene.  In 2010, Marva passed away and Benny lost a cherished friend and bandmate, once again.

A recently-released (in 2014) homage to his musical history, Benny is very proud of his newest CD, Journey. The deep roots and wide diversity of his musical influences blend into a signature style he calls “Real Blues” and performs with his band of the same name.  In many ways, Benny Turner’s journey is just beginning, and promises to be one fine ride!

Band Members