On This Day – Big Joe Turner Dies

On this day in 1985 Big Joe Turner died.  Sadly, he is little remembered today but he had a huge influence on the growth of Rock and Roll.

Born in 1911 Turner performed from 1920 until 1980.  A Blues shouter he played with or on the same bill as many wonderful musicians such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and Wynonie Harris.  He recorded throughout his career but found real fame in the ’50s.  Moving away from Jazz and Blues he was a pioneer of rock and roll.  He is best remembered for writing and recording “Shake Rattle and Roll”.  His, original version was a hit but eclipsed by Bill Haley’s version.  BH’s version removed all the innuendoes of the original (Elvis used the original lyrics) and was not as raw and powerful as Turner’s.

More hits followed notably; “Well All Right,” “Flip Flop and Fly,” “Hide and Seek,” “Morning, Noon and Night,” and “The Chicken and the Hawk”.  His influence has been hailed by many people including the NME when reporting his death in 1985 they referred to him as “the grandfather of rock and roll.

Later in his life he returned to Jazz and Blues performing until 1980.  He died of a heart attack.


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