•  Recording Artist  •  Musician  •  Songwriter  •  Touring Artist & Performer  •

 

 

About Joe

I can remember Mrs. Blackburn’s hands pressing my six year old fingers on the keys of our old piano for my lessons while I thought about pirates, cowboys and baseball. I only learned one song in a year called “Indian War Chant” or something sort of boogie-esque. I remember the thrill of finding a harmonica in my Christmas stocking and hearing my Dad’s Hank Williams Sr. and Ernest Tubb records and my Mom and my grandfather, Daddy Red’s big band and jazz records and really loving that sound. Mom and Daddy Red would both sing and play piano and I’d sit there really intrigued and happy. I listened to my older sisters’ soul records over and over, memorizing every line and lick.

We had a black housekeeper, Ruvina who’d baby-sit us and take me to her church. It must’ve rocked my world ‘cause I’d climb and dance through the pews while they sang. I can still see those black hands reaching for me. I loved that woman. She injected me with some kind of soul shot or something ‘cause I’ve always been so moved by black gospel and primitive blues and R&B.

My first performance was when I was 4 years old. My mom accompanied me and I won a $5 grocery certificate at a talent show by singing about 25 verses of “Davy Crockett” dressed in an outfit with a coonskin cap and rifle.

I learned “Over the Rainbow” on a busted toy saxophone and played for our backyard carnival, doubling as “the man of a thousand burps”. In elementary school and junior high I played trumpet and was third chair till a bully hit my pal with some timbale sticks and I busted him over the head with my horn. That dented the horn and got me suspended in the process. Being a horrible music reader, I’d just listen to the parts and memorize them. I played army with that horn in the neighborhood and drove the neighbors nuts.

When I was about 13, I really got serious about playing blues harp. I met a guy in boarding school in Chattanooga who turned me on to it. We both played in the drum and bugle corps. We were misfits who would jam on harp and the chapel organ. That cat could play and had the soul of an old blues man. There I got paid $5 a week to play reveille, mess call, and taps for the boarders. A lot of old shoes and various items were thrown at me during reveille.

By the time I was in 10th grade, I was back in Lexington, Kentucky and hooked up with Jeff Silbar, who would become a best friend and band mate for years. Jeff has since had great success as a songwriter, about ten gold records and grabbed a Grammy for co-writing “Wind Beneath My Wings”. He played guitar, loved the blues and soon we started a very hip rock and roll band called “Junction”. We rented a studio above the White Cloud Laundromat and had a wild time. The band lasted for about four years until around 1975 when Jeff and I decided to move to Nashville.

Jeff got a job at Tree Publishing and I decided to go to Peabody College for music and writing. My piano teacher, Werner Von Zepernic was fantastic but finally told me to “give it up and go back to your Boogie Woogie”. After a series of odd jobs, I joined a band with Tanya Tucker’s sister, La Costa, and toured for about a year. She had a hit single and album on the charts. We played some big time package shows with bona fide stars like Merle Haggard and at the famous Palomino Club in Los Angeles. I did my term paper while on the road, returned to Nashville, quit college and started writing more songs with Jeff. We got a deal to board horses at Blue Creek Stables, lived in the bunkhouse, wrote songs and had day jobs in town. Soon, I had to hit the road again with a rock band to earn money and played all kinds of crazy gigs. This band was just one of a thousand but a great place to hone my chops and party.

Back to Nashville, I was getting heavy into Charlie Parker and be-bop. Nashville, in my opinion, was producing watered-down fluff. Gone were the days of Kristofferson and the real cats. Willie was in Texas. Jazz was hitting me hard, so I split town. I tried college again in Lexington, majored in journalism. I found I hated journalism and soon joined a down home country band at one of those black basement smoke filled sticky floored trucker bars. They paid decent money, though, and the players were real and very good. After the gig, I’d go play jazz sax all night long with a new piano player friend, Brad Bleidt, a great cat.

I saved enough bread to build a small 4-track studio in a drummer friend’s basement. I lived there, worked on my music during the days and played five or six nights a week at the Congress Inn.

After I’d produced a few good songs, I decided I needed a change. I got accepted to Berklee College of Music in Boston and moved myself and my studio. Berklee was like jazz boot camp. I still had to have a job, so a friend, Lee Carroll helped me get a job in a blues/rock band. That gig saved my sanity for a few years and gave me an outside social life. I barely made enough to pay the rent but, at Berklee, was exposed to knowledge and techniques that would take me five lifetimes to master. After Berklee , I said, “Goodbye, Boston, and hello again, Nashville. "

I had hopes of jumping into some immediate success in Music City with my new chops and musicianship, but had a rough time again, played in a club band and almost starved. I wrote 5 or 6 songs, sold the publishing rights for some bread and started going out to clubs and jamming.

Then, it finally happened. I got a call to audition for Dolly Parton’s band. Hallelujah! I got the gig! Dolly's tour put me back on my feet again. Unfortunately, Dolly got sick and had to have surgery. In order to recuperate, she was booked into major casinos and venues with house orchestras and no longer needed a sax/harp/utility keyboard man. But Dolly, God bless her, paid me for the time of her illness plus an extra month's severance to look for another gig. She always treated her band like family and I respect and adore her to this day!

One day I stopped in the Nashville Musicians union and met this electrifying blonde singer and incredible world champion yodeler, Margo Smith, who was holding auditions for a piano player. She hired me on the spot. I toured with her for a couple of years all over the U.S. and Germany and worked on my songwriting. That’s when I started Joe Turley & the Eccentrics, doing original and selected blues and soul music in local Nashville clubs.

During my time with Margo, God came through big time and I fell in love with and married my wonderful, talented, beautiful, intelligent soul mate, Marie. She is definitely the best thing to come out of Nashville for me and we are still honeymooning.

Nashville is a very difficult town to crack but I started a new soul, rock & roll band, Ivory Joe & the Midnight Howlers. I also made connections as a writer and did session work. I worked and did regional gigs with the great, soulful, magnetic performer and beach-music king Clifford Curry. But when the call came to play with two of my musical inspirations of all time, Leon Russell and Edgar Winter, I took the gig. Musically this was the most rewarding experience in my career. Those cats are the creme de la creme. My tour with the band was brief but beautiful and I made some great buddies.

Back in Nashville, I still couldn't seem to stay in town and survive financially, so, I went on tour with Shelly West. Shelly was doing well at the time and was a very good vocalist with good songs. She worked just enough to help me pay bills and still spend about 50% of my time at home. I kept my band going, played with some with different artists like Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook, Clifford Curry, Bobby Bare, a couple of Elvis imitators, Guy Harden and others, and I kept writing.

Then, the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, who were very hot, offered me a job with more bread per show, my own private hotel rooms when touring and many more gigs per year.

After that tour, I worked a lot in Nashville and then got a call to audition for Waylon Jennings. I got the gig and hit the road again. Great gigs, good money, good times and some package shows with Willie Nelson completed my road life until Eric Clapton should call.

One spring and summer later I was back in Nashville to stay, come hell or high water. If you want to do your own musical thing, ya’ gotta’ find a way to stay in town and develop your style. Thank God for the Opryland Productions people and my friend, ace drummer, Bob Mummert. I landed a gig on the General Jackson Showboat for a few seasons, played in the Dick Clark American Bandstand Band and worked with Gary Jenkins, Randy Moore & the Deltones and as a soloist at the Opryland hotel, all here in Nashville. I became a staff musician of sorts for eight years.

Marie and I played many Tennessee school concerts as a duo for a couple of years and she is a dynamite vocalist and musician. The schedule was rough and demanding, up at 5 a.m. and playing shows at early assemblies and then to another school 50 miles away for an afternoon concert. But, we almost always got standing ovations and encores from the kids.

During these years, I developed Ivory Joe & the Midnight Howlers into a crackerjack unit. I also developed a rock/swing band called Ivory Joe and the Joykings. The Howlers work quite a bit and it's always a real blast and now the musicians are among my best friends. The Joykings were the backbone of ideas for my first CD, "When the Jitterbug Bites". The experience of recording work I’m very proud of and working with the best musicians is an incredible blessing.

Now I tour and promote my CDs. I work a day at a time with a passion and love of playing my music for people. None of my successes would've happened without faith in God and the support and love of my friends and family.

Joe Turley
Recording Artist
Musician (Piano, Sax, Harp, Guitar)
Vocalist and Lyricist

Bandleader:
   • Ivory Joe and the Midnight Howlers
   • Coconut Jam
   • Ivory Joe  and the The JukeDrivers
   • Joe Turley Duo
   • Double Boogie
 
Joe has toured or recorded with:
   • Dolly Parton
   • Leon Russell & Edgar Winter
   • Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
   • Dick Clark's American Bandstand
   • Sweethearts of the Rodeo
   • Radney Foster
   • Margo Smith
   • Shelly West
   • Bobby Bare
   • Vassar Clements
   • Ray Sawyer & Dr. Hook
   • The Excello Legends
   • Shirelles
   • Various Other Performers

His songs are published with:
   • Sony Tree Music
   • Warner Bros Music
   • T.M.I.
   • ATV Music
   • Blendingwell Music

Joe has also performed for television and film, including:
   • Nashville Now
   • Austin City Limits
   • Hee Haw
   • PBS

He has played on many soundtracks

Joe has played concerts/events for:  
   • Sony Music
   • The Cumberland
   • Bell South
   • Rexall
   • Tennessee Performing Arts Center
   • Sisken Foundation
   • AFLAC
   • Opryland Hotel
   • The Hermitage Hotel
   • Texaco
   • Vanderbilt University
   • Public Schools
   • Chattem, Inc
   • Tennessee Bankers Assoc.
   • Belle Meade Mansion
   • National Hospice
   • Kingston
   • Goodyear
   • Harrahs
   • Bosch Tool Corp.
   • American Red Cross
   • Traveler's Ins.
   • Outback Steakhouse Corp.
   • Cellular One
   • Tractor Supply Inc.
   • Peabody Hotel
   • Morgan Keegan & Co.
   • Sam Buca
   • John Deere Corp.
   • Nashville Steeplechase
   • Boeing Aircrafts
   • Tennessee Arts Commission
   • Tennessee Center for Performance
     Excellence ( TCPE)
   • Ballard's Resort
   • Numerous Other Clients

 

 

 

 


 
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