Friday, August 03, 2007

RIP Uncle John Turner

I photographed Uncle John Turner for the Chronicle a few months ago. John was such a sweet man. He was very generous with his time and told me lots of great stories about old Austin. At the time I was unhappy with the photos because they seemed flat and over simplified. Looking back they seem honest and appropriate.

"Uncle" John Turner
, the Austin bluesman who kept time for, among others, Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, and Lightnin' Hopkins died last Thursday morning due to complications related to hepatitis C. Turner, 62, was born in Port Arthur, where he first met guitarist Johnny Winter. With friend Tommy Shannon on bass, the threepiece made blues history ("The Power of Three," April 13), cutting three seminal LPs, The Progressive Blues Experiment, Johnny Winter, and Second Winter, and taking the stage at Woodstock in 1969. Follow­ing the Winter trio's split, Turner moved to Austin in 1970, forming Krackerjack with Shannon and the immortal Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. For the past two decades, the skinsman has remained active in the local blues scene, backing Alan Haynes, Erin James, and Appa Perry's Blues Power, along with his own eponymous trio. Last November, Turner reunited with Winter and Shannon one last time at La Zona Rosa, playing together for the first time in more than 20 years. Both guitarist and bassist were scheduled to perform at the Aug. 1 benefit and tribute concert at Antone's, whose proceeds will be used to offset final arrangements and medical costs. The beat carries on Sunday at Threadgill's World Headquarters, beginning at 6pm, as friends and fans gather to celebrate Turner's life through stories and song.

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