Big Joe Turner – Biography, Songs, Albums, Discography & Facts

Big Joe Turner Biography

American vocalist Joseph Vernon “Big Joe” Turner Jr. was from Kansas City, Missouri. Rock and roll “would have never happened without him,” says songwriter Doc Pomus. His rock-and-roll recordings from the 1950s, especially “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” brought him the most renown, but his career as a performer lasted from the 1920s through the 1980s. Turner was hailed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as “the brawny voiced ‘Boss of the Blues'” when he was inducted there in 1987.

Turner was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on May 18, 1911. When Turner was four years old, his father died in a railroad accident. He performed for cash on street corners and in his church. At the age of 14, he dropped out of school to work as a singing bartender and cook in Kansas City nightclubs. He worked in establishments like the Kingfish Club and the Sunset, where he and his companion, the boogie-woogie pianist Pete Johnson, established themselves as resident performers, and he earned the moniker “The Singing Barman.”

Turner achieved enormous popularity in 1954 with “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” which not only helped to change popular music but also greatly enhanced his career and made him a favorite of teenagers. Throughout the song, Turner screams at his partner to “She responds, “You’re wearing those gowns, the sun comes shinin’ through! Get out of that bed, wash your face and hands! My eyes are deceiving me; all that mess is yours.” For the 1955 motion picture Rhythm and Blues Revue, he performed it on camera.

Although Bill Haley & His Comets’ cover of the song, which left some of the song’s obscene lyrics out, had a higher sales success, many listeners sought out Tina Turner‘s version and were consequently introduced to rhythm and blues. Turner’s lyrics and Haley’s arrangement were blended in Elvis Presley‘s rendition of “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” but it was not a hit record.

Successful recordings from this time period include “The Chicken and the Hawk,” “Flip, Flop and Fly,” “Hide and Seek,” “Morning, Noon, and Night,” and “Well All Right.” He gave a performance on Showtime at the Apollo and in the motion picture Shake Rattle & Rock! (1956). In 1956, “Corrine, Corrina” was another hit song with strong sales. In 1956, he also released the Boss of the Blues album in addition to the rock tracks. On May 26, 1958, “(I’m Gonna) Jump for Joy,” his final song, peaked at number one on the US R&B record chart.

Turner left popular music after achieving a number of hits in this direction and returned to singing with small jazz combos, releasing a number of albums in this genre in the 1960s and 1970s.By lending him the Comets for a string of well-received records for the Orfeón label in Mexico in 1966, Bill Haley assisted Turner in reviving his career. He released a cover of “The Things That I Used to Do” by Guitar Slim in 1977.

He resumed performing jazz and blues music in the 1960s and 1970s, appearing at numerous music festivals and cutting records for Norman Granz’s Pablo Records. He collaborated with Axel Zwingenberger as well. Turner, Wynonie Harris, and T-Bone Walker engaged in a “Battle of the Blues” as well.

He received honors from Esquire magazine in 1945 for best male vocalist, Melody Maker in 1956 for best “new” vocalist, and British Jazz Journal in 1965 for best male vocalist. Turner and piano player Lloyd Glenn recorded “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter” in 1977 for Spivey Records. Turner’s career spanned from Kansas City barrooms in the 1920s (when, at the age of twelve, he performed wearing his father’s hat and a penciled-on mustache) to European jazz festivals in the 1980s. Turner was honored with a Blues Hall of Fame induction in 1983, two years before he passed away.

Turner collaborated with the band Roomful of Blues on the Mute Records album Blues Train, which was released in the same year. In the 1979 Kansas City jazz reunion film The Last of the Blue Devils, which also starred Jay McShann, Jimmy Forrest, and other local musicians, Turner shared the lead role alongside Count Basie. At the age of 74, Turner passed away from heart failure in Inglewood, California, following complications related to diabetes, a stroke, and arthritis. Turner and his contemporaries Little Richard and Fats Domino are mentioned in The Buddy Holly Story as having had a significant influence on Holly, who is shown collecting their vinyl records.

Big Joe Turner Discography

Stormy Monday
Boss Blues Live!
Midnight Special
The Best Of Joe Turner
Boss Man Of The Blues ‎
Singing The Blues
Big Joe Rides AgainSpotifyAppleAmazon
Rock & RollSpotify

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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Big Joe Turner Popular Songs?

Most people know Big Joe Turner for his work in the blues genre, but he also had several popular songs in other genres as well. In the early 1950s, Turner had a number of R&B hits with songs like “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and “Honey Hush.” He also had a few pop hits in the 1950s with songs like “Corrina, Corrina” and “The Chicken and the Hawk.” In the 1960s, Turner continued to have success in the blues genre with songs like “Roll ‘Em Pete” and “TV Mama.

What Is Big Joe Turner’s Favorite Song Of All Time?

“Shake, Rattle and Roll” is Big Joe Turner’s favorite song of all time. This classic tune was released in 1954 and is still one of the most popular songs today. Big Joe Turner was a blues singer and pianist who was known for his powerful voice and energetic stage presence. He influenced many other artists, including Elvis Presley, and his songs are still played on the radio today. “Shake, Rattle and Roll” is a classic example of his style and is sure to get you up and dancing.

What Is Big Joe Turner’s Best Selling Album?

Big Joe Turner’s best selling album is “The Best of Big Joe Turner.” It was released in 1968 and features some of his most popular songs, including “Chains of Love,” “Sweet Sixteen,” and “Shake, Rattle, and Roll.

How Many Solo Albums Did Big Joe Turner Do?

Big Joe Turner recorded 22 solo albums between 1955 and 1984. His final album, “The Boss of the Blues”, was released in 1995.

Most Searched For Big Joe Turner Songs

Shake, Rattle & Roll SpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
Flip, Flop And Fly SpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
Corrine Corrina SpotifyAppleYouTube
Well, All Right SpotifyApple
Boogie Woogie Country Girl SpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
Switching in the Kitchen SpotifyAppleYouTube
Honey Hush SpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
Lipstick, Powder and Paint SpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon
S.K. Blues, Pt. 1 Spotify
The Chicken And The Hawk SpotifyAppleYouTubeAmazon