Joseph Vernon “Big Joe” Turner Jr
“Rock and roll would have never happened without him“, songwriter Doc Pomus wrote, and he was right.
If it weren’t for Joseph Vernon “Big Joe” Turner Jr., we probably wouldn’t have known Rock ‘n’ Roll.
The 1954 album “Shake, Rattle and Roll“, although with Rhythm and Blues tunes, introduces us to Rock ‘n’Roll.
Its story is like an old movie…
From an early age, he sang in his church and on the street so that he could earn a living.
At the age of just 14, he left school and started working in nightclubs, as a cook and later as a bartender and singer.
Together with pianist Pete Johnson, they became permanent members of the Sunset Club, which was run by Piney Brown.
There he acquired the nickname “The Singing Barman”.
The road to the top…
The bond he had with Johnson proved to be excellent, as they went to New York together in 1936 and although they did not become known immediately, their course was to be spectacular.
Despite the difficulties they encountered, they were finally discovered in 1938 by John Hammond, where they opened From Spirituals to Swing at Carnegie Hall.
The song that launched them to the top was “Roll ‘Em Pete“, which Turner recorded with various musicians in the following years.
Together with pianists Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lewis, he performed at the New York Café Society, alongside the band Billie Holiday and Frankie Newton.
In 1940 he signed with Decca and recorded “Piney Brown Blues” with Johnson.
His course can be considered highly successful with successes following one another.
Movies, series, theater, radio, appearances all have their music!
Sometime in the mid-1960s and with so much success, it returns to its roots and in blues.
From the 1920s and 12s until 1984, when he died, Big Joe Turner established himself in the pantheon of Rock and Roll and Blues music.