Benny Turner started his career as a bassist in the 50’s with his older brother the legendary Blues guitarist The late Freddie King. Since then Benny has participated in abundant recordings and live performances, not only with his great brother but Memphis Slim, Gladys Knight, Mighty Joe Young and Otis Clay to name few.
Benny and Freddie growing up in rural east Texas had no access to the Blues music other than their mother and uncle who played blues and country guitar, And also 15 minutes program on the radio called “In the groove.” They listened to Charles Brown and Louis Jordon on the radio. They moved to Chicago in 1949 where Howlin’ Wolf and Jimmy Rogers took Freddie and Benny under their wings. While Benny was working with Freddie at all of Blues clubs in Chicago, Benny had the opportunity to meet Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Little Walter and other great artists.
Freddie knew Benny had good timing which is the most important element as a bassist. One night Freddie needed a bass player and asked Benny to play. He didn’t know how to play so Freddie taught him to play in the key of E. He played the 1 string boogie bass line all night long. On the next night, he learned to play in the key of G. Then Jack Myers came by one night and cut his head ( a term use by musicians when you steal the show) by playing a truly great Blues style. Benny learned by ear and on the 3rd night, he was able to play in the key of A. But when Benny started playing with Freddie in 1955, He was too young to be on the stage So they put him backstage with a long cable, That way he could play without the audiences and club managers knowing he was in the club. That is how his career started. Soon Benny’s bass became irreplaceable element for Freddie’s music.
Freddie’s first hits ”Hideaway” and “Have you ever loved a woman” were released in 1960, WLAC radio in Nashville played “Hideaway” in a heavy rotation and contributed to make it hit. That was the time they started touring. They were at the top of the world playing with such groups as Eric Clapton, BB King, Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grand Funk Railroad (they wrote about Freddie in their big hit song “We’re an American band”), Charlie Daniels, Leon Russell, and too many others to list.
Benny played with Dee Clark for 3 years when Freddie was not touring. One day in Miami the Staple singers and the Soul Stirrers were in concert, Benny knew one of the members of the legendary Soul Stirrers and they asked him to join the group. So he joined the Soul Stirrers and became the first bass player in Gospel. He played with them for 3 years. Before returning to Chicago where he rejoined Freddie, Freddie signed with Leon Russell who helped Freddie’s career to be more universal and cross over races.
Freddie King unexpectedly passed away 1976. After Freddie’s death, Benny went back to Chicago and became a bass player and band leader for the Blues great Mighty Joe Young for 8 years. In the late 80’s he moved to New Orleans where he met the Blues queen of New Orleans Marva Wright. Benny became the bass player and band leader of her band for 20 years. When she became unavailable to perform, Benny decided to come out front.
Freddie always wanted Benny to sing. He loved his baby brother’s way of singing. Benny’s talents are not limited to playing bass. He is a producer and singer with one of the silkiest, sexiest and most dynamic voices that could easily make him into a Blues legend following in his brother’s footsteps.
Since Benny started his career from early 50’s, he has toured and worked with many top artists, and his Blues bass style has influenced many musicians in five decades. In 1997, he received the Best CD of the year award with “Blue and not so Blue” album and Best Blues bass player of that year from Real Blues Magazine.
Late 2009, Benny has started his own band “Benny Turner & Real Blues”, playing Blues with the same fire as he has done throughout his life. He has assembled a great band with Keiko Komaki on Keyboard, Jeffry ‘Jelly Bean’ Alexander on Drums, June Yamagishi and Derwin ‘Big D’ Perkins on Guitar.