Big Joe Turner

The "Boss of the Blues", Big Joe Turner's booming, gravelly voice and larger than life personality made him one of the most important US rhythm and blues stars of the 1940s and 1950s and a pioneer of early rock'n'roll. Born in Kansas City in 1911, Joseph Vernon Turner Jr lost his father in a train accident when he was just four and grew up singing on street corners and in church. His partnership with boogie piano player Pete Johnson took him from working as a cook and bartender to Carnegie Hall, where they performed as part of John Hammond's legendary From Spirituals To Swing concert in 1938. Their infectious, high energy sound was named "jump blues" and they quickly became a key part of New York's club scene with classic tracks Roll 'Em Pete, Cherry Red and Piney Brown Blues. Turner went on to record with small jazz ensembles, toured with the Count Basie Orchestra and scored a string of R&B hits, including Chains Of Love, Sweet Sixteen and Honey Hush during the 1950s; but it was his 1954 track Shake, Rattle And Roll which became his signature anthem. The track was covered by Bill Haley and Elvis Presley and was central to the explosion of early rock'n'roll and set Turner up for hits with Flip Flop And Fly, Corrina Corrina and Hide And Seek. In the 1970s he returned to the more low key jazz and big band scene performing with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie and Jimmy Witherspoon. He died in 1985 of heart failure but was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and his music remains an important landmark in the history of R&B and rock'n'roll.

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Stations Featuring Big Joe Turner

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