My Brother’s Blues
Nola Blue Records
Once Benny Turner and his older brother Freddie left Texas for Chicago his brother began to make a name for himself as Freddie King. Freddie became a guitar god while Turner backed him up on bass. Turner left for awhile to play with R n’ B singer Dee Clark but then returned to play bass with King until his untimely passing in 1976 at the age of 42.
Turner who also played with Mighty Joe Young for eight years; and Marva Wright “The Blues Queen of New Orleans” for twenty, released his own debut recording in 2010. In 2012 Turner’s follow-up record was a “Tribute to My Brother Freddie King”.
“Journey” Turner’s 2014 recording featured all original material but continued to pay homage to his brother. Turner utilized three different rhythm guitarists rather than have someone else play lead. In 2016 Turner released his fourth studio album “When She’s Gone” dedicated to the woman who raised two blues legends Ella Mae King Turner.
“My Brother’s Blues” follows on the heels of Turner’s autobiographical book “Survivor”, written with Bill Dahl, in which he relates his amazing life story. This time Turner plays bass, adds some lead guitar and sings on songs selected from his brother’s catalogue. Turner is joined by June Yamagishi, lead guitar; Darwin “Big D” Perkins, rhythm guitar; Keiko Komaki, Joe Krown, or Davell Crawford keyboards; Barney Floyd, trumpet; Jason Mingledorff, saxophone; and Jeffrey “Jellybean” Alexander, drums. Yamagishi, Mingledorff and Alexander also play in the New Orleans band “Papa Grows Funk”.
“One night we were in the car with Dee when a very familiar melody came on the car radio…”that’s my brother!”…Freddie ended up on Federal Records with the help of their A & R man Sonny Thompson…Sonny drove Freddie to Cincinnati for his first Federal session in August of 1960”. Federal Records was a subsidiary of King Records. Thompson was also the pianist during the sessions and among the recordings were two credited to King and Thompson, “You Got To Love Her With A Feeling” and “See See Baby”. On these new recordings Joe Krown is featured on keyboards.
Also waxed during these early Federal sessions were “I’m Tore Down” credited to Thompson and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” written by Billy Myles. The former features Yamagishi on guitar; while on the latter Turner sings with Otis Clay and Wright. Both songs feature keyboardists Komaki and Crawford.
King also recorded for Leon Russell’s Shelter Records. “Same Old Blues” appears on 1971’s “Getting Ready…” written and produced by Don Nix. On the new recording Yamagishi and Alexander are featured with Chizuko Yoshiro, piano; Tracy Griffin, trumpet; and Greg Dawson, saxophone. Willie Dixon’s “I’m Ready” was recorded on 1973’s “Woman Across The River” also on Shelter; the new version features Roosevelt Collier on lap steel.
“Big Legged Woman” originally appeared on Kings 1972 “Texas Cannonball” album. Once again Yamagishi is featured on lead guitar. “It’s Your Move” written by Joe Levine and Jerry Ragovoy is from 1975’s “Larger Than Life” on the RSO Record label; the newly recorded versions also feature Krown on the B-3.
Future albums were mostly live recordings and “Wee Baby Blues” written by Big Joe Turner appears on “Ebbet’s Field, Denver, Co. 1974”. The new version includes Collier on lap steel; and Carolyn Wonderland and Kathie Murray providing the background vocals. King’s version of J.B. Lenoir’s “Mojo Boogie” can be found on 1983’s “Rockin The Blues Live” while “Ghetto Woman” can be found on 2003’s “Live in Europe”.
Turner is a friendly vocalist. He is also a “Survivor” and a national treasure. His compelling story is both entertaining and inspirational.
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