BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Well traveled singer-songwriter who had more success in the latter department over the years with a few indelible compositions to his credit yet continued to try and break through as a vocalist for two decades despite somewhat limited ability.

Turner was born in 1933 in Georgia and made his debut on record in early 1950 with Aladdin Records as a teenager performing songs he had no hand in writing and being billed as Mr. T.

When those failed to impress anybody it took him two years to get another chance, finally landing at OKeh Records who may have been swayed as much by his burgeoning songwriting skills as his potential as an artist in his own right.

For the next few years on some subsidiaries for major labels Turner issued a number of competent journeyman rock records that met with little interest, yet his writing began to attract attention as in 1955 his single “All Around The World” was quickly covered by Little Willie John who scored his first hit with the song. Down the road Turner and John would collaborate on another timeless hit, “Leave My Kitten Alone”.

His success as a writer may have shifted his focus somewhat but it also afforded him continued opportunities to record under his own name, although ironically enough when he finally achieved some minor hits as a singer it was mostly with songs he’d adapted from the public domain, or “answer songs” to recent hits that merely changed the lyrics to form a sequel as opposed to scoring hits with original compositions.

Yet his own writing continued to find takers as Ray Charles hit pay-dirt with “Sticks & Stones”, Dinah Washington and Aretha Franklin both had minor hits with his “Soulville” and Elvis Presley did even better with “Tell Me Why” in the mid-1960’s. Yet it was the late 60’s revival of his breakthrough tune with Little Willie John, now re-titled “Grits Ain’t Groceries”, which helped to keep Turner’s legacy alive as blues-rock guitarist Little Milton had a big R&B hit with the song just around the time that Turner himself issued his final sides as an artist.

Turner died at the age of 51 in 1984, his name better remembered than a lot of his more successful contemporaries thanks to the lasting popularity of his best written material for others rather than his own rather limited artistic output.
 
 
TITUS TURNER DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

I’M JUST A LUCKY SO AND SO
(Aladdin 3053; March, 1950)
A butchering of a classy Duke Ellington number was a bad stylistic choice to begin with for a teenage singer who had little concept of how to use his voice… and here’s a hint, it’s definitely not by whistling either. (1)