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Sonny Turner

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Information about Sonny Turner

Profile image of Sonny Turner

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Blue, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas, December, September
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Las Vegas, Bermuda, Hawaii, Europe, Paris, France, and England. South America, Brazil, and Japan
Favorite Quote:
Freedom.

Birthplace

Born:
9/24/1939
Birth Location:
Fairmont, West Virginia

Profession

Category:
MusicMakers
Occupation(s):
Singer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Blue, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green
Favorite Food:
None
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas, December, September
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Las Vegas, Bermuda, Hawaii, Europe, Paris, France, and England. South America, Brazil, and Japan
Favorite Quote:
Freedom.

Birthplace

Born:
9/24/1939
Birth Location:
Fairmont
See how Sonny Turner is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

R&B singer Charles Arnold “Sonny” Turner was born on September 24, 1939 in Fairmount, West Virginia. Turner’s mother, Pearl, was a gospel singer and his father Carl, was a boxer. In 1949, Turner moved to Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended Case Woodland Elementary School and graduated from East Technical High School.

Turner began his entertainment career in the mid-1950s by performing with a local R&B group named the Metrotones, which included Andy Forester, James Fryerson, Leonard Veal, and Lavinia Eaton. The group performed at high school assemblies and local amateur vocal contests. They also opened up for The Five Keys, The Moonglows, The Flamingos, and Buddy Johnson. The Metrotones broke up when Andy Forester and James Fryerson were drafted into the United States Army. Turner then performed as a solo artist and master of ceremonies inside of local lounges and bars. He served as the opening act at the Chatter Box in a musical show that featured Billie Holiday and Arthur Pricesock.

Turner met Bill Crane, the talent scout for the R&B group, The Platters, while performing as an opening act for Redd Foxx. Crane became so impressed by Turner’s performance that he asked Turner to audition as the group’s lead singer. Afterwards, Turner, his mother and Bill Crane caught an overnight train to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and met with Platter’s manager, Buck Ramm and the group’s members David Lynch, Herb Reid, Zolar Taylor, and Paul Robbie. That evening, The Platters were appearing at an upscale nightclub in Milwaukee called Club Henrys. Turner sang “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” in between the group’s performances. Ex-Platter member, Tony Williams, the original lead singer on “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” was present in the club. Although Williams’ presence caused Turner to become reluctant, he performed and was congratulated by Williams who was behind the stage curtains. The group had a meeting in the dressing room that night, and Turner was made an official member of The Platters. Turner’s first show came in Washington, D.C. when the Platters were the closing performance for a musical show that featured Sammy Davis, Jr. The group also toured internationally and performed for dignitaries in Poland, Russia, Mexico, and Rome.

Turner married ex-Metrotone, Lavinia Eaton in 1957. That same year, the married couple had a baby girl named Tammie. The following year, Lavinia gave birth to another baby girl named Kyle. After his divorce from Lavinia, Turner married Arlean Fairley in 1970, and had a baby boy named Jason. Turner is currently married to Roxie Turner.

Sunny Turner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 2, 2007.

See how Sonny Turner is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sonny Turner's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sonny Turner lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sonny Turner describes his mother's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sonny Turner describes his father's background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sonny Turner describes his maternal and paternal ancestry
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sonny Turner describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sonny Turner remembers celebrating Christmas as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sonny Turner describes his siblings and his family's move to Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sonny Turner describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sonny Turner describes the neighborhood where he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sonny Turner describes working as a shoe shiner at Millionaire's Barbershop in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sonny Turner recalls his first encounter with racism
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sonny Turner describes his childhood personality and interests
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sonny Turner describes his upbringing in a Baptist church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sonny Turner describes how he joined the Metrotones
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sonny Turner recalls learning about music and pitch at Kinnard Junior High School in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sonny Turner describes his influences at East Technical High School in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sonny Turner remembers learning the importance of being well-groomed by watching his musical role models
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sonny Turner talks about his goals after finishing high school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sonny Turner talks about his early awareness regarding drug abuse
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sonny Turner recounts Billie Holiday's warning about drugs
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sonny Turner talks about opening for Redd Foxx at the Music Box in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sonny Turner talks about meeting legendary celebrities of the 1950s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sonny Turner recalls how he was asked to join The Platters
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Sonny Turner describes the audition to join The Platters
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sonny Turner talks about becoming a member of The Platters
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sonny Turner recalls his first gig with the Platters at Club Lotus in Washington, D.C.
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sonny Turner recalls racist incidents when The Platters toured the South
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sonny Turner remembers his first trip overseas to England with The Platters
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sonny Turner reflects upon the passing of his mother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sonny Turner talks about moving to Los Angeles, California in the early 1960s
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sonny Turner explains the reason for The Platters' breakup
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sonny Turner talks about Sonny Turner Sound Limited
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sonny Turner talks about a pivotal showcase in Las Vegas, Nevada for Sonny Turner and Sound Limited
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sonny Turner recalls celebrities he encountered during performances in Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sonny Turner remembers Elvis Presley
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sonny Turner talks about his recent tours and reunion shows
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sonny Turner talks about the Truth in Music Act and its importance
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sonny Turner talks about where the original Platters are now
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sonny Turner shares his thoughts about the current music industry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sonny Turner talks about why he wanted his story told
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sonny turner shares advice for those going into the entertainment business
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Sonny turner describes his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Sonny Turner reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Sonny Turner reflects upon his legacy and how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Sonny Turner offers a message to future generations
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sonny Turner narrates his photographs