Benny was born in Gilmer, Texas and grew up in the shadow of his famous brother, Freddie King, who always dreamed of becoming a great guitar player. He and his little brother Benny would listen for a few hours a day to old radio programs like "In the Groove." As they grew up, the brothers listened to Blues and Swing Music by such artists as Louis Jordan, Charles Brown and later, T-Bone Walker. These Blues greats became the influence of the music that Freddie King started and Benny Turner continues today.
Later, Freddie and Benny's family moved to Chicago where Freddie became serious about becoming a great Blues player. At the time Benny had no musical aspirations other than participating in his brother's success. Freddie established himself in Chicago as a Blues player and put a band together, playing in local Chicago clubs such as the B-Bop Bar, the Squeeze Club and Castle Rock. Freddie soon pulled Benny into the band, recognizing that his brother was every bit as musically talented. While working with Freddie at Squeeze Club, Benny had the opportunity to meet Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Matt Murphy. It was Freddie's dream (and one that Benny did not share) that his baby brother would one day be a star in his own right because he recognized that Benny had all the right stuff.
After playing for a few years at the Squeeze Club, a new Chicago club called Walton's Corner opened. It was upscale and offered first class music. Freddie's band, with Benny, became the house band. While working there, Freddie was approached by Sonny Thompson, who took him to Cincinnati, Ohio to produce his first hit, Hideaway, which Benny helped to write. While at Walton's Corner, Benny had the opportunity to meet a then local R & B singer named Dee Clark. They became friends and Dee invited Benny to go on the road with him while Freddie was in Cincinnati recording what would be his first great hit. Benny joined Dee Clark and had his first, but certainly not last, experience with life on the road. He played in Dee's band with Phil Upchurch, one of the best jazz players today.
As Freddie was making his move to become a great recording star, Benny went his own way and continued touring and eventually, Benny was approached by Leroy Crume and Richard Gibbs, who played with Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, to play gospel music. At the time, bass guitar was unheard of in Gospel music and Sam Cooke opposed. However, the group's manager, Jesse Farley, recognized the contribution bass guitar could make to gospel music and hired Benny. Today, bass players are an integral part of Gospel music and Benny Turner was the first.
After Hideaway became a hit, Benny re-joined his brother Freddie and went on the road. They played the APOLLO Theater in New York, Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. and the Regal Theater in Chicago. They were at the top of the world, playing on the same bill as Dionne Warwick, B.B. King, Solomon Burke and Eric Clapton, and too many other others to list. The dream came to an end in December, 1976, when Freddie King unexpectedly passed away at age 42. Benny, devastated by his brother's death, literally turned into a recluse for 2 years. Eventually, Blues great Mighty Joe Young convinced Benny to face the stage once again. Benny credits Mighty Joe with bringing him back into the the mainstream of the Blues. Benny played with Mighty Joe for approximately 8 years until Joe was forced to quit working due to medical reasons.
Benny decided to make a new start and moved to New Orleans and met Marva Wright, a legendary New Orleans Blues singer. She hired Benny and he became her bandleader, a position he held for more than 20 years. He was proud to call Marva his friend and was saddened by her untimely death. He will cherish their friendship and working relationship for the rest of his life.
Benny's New LP/CD
Preview "Journey" Tracks
Double click here to edit this text.