Drummer Uncle John Turner

Drummer Uncle John Turner

Drummer Uncle John Turner

Woodstock alum

August 20, 1944 – July 26, 2007

from Winter & Turner, “Made in the Shade”
Drummer Uncle John Turner

Port Arthur, TX

Uncle John Turner was born in Port Arthur, Texas and grew up listening  to Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Lazy Lester, and Jimmy Reed. He started his musical career on guitar in 1957, switched to bass, and then drums with the Nightlights

In 1960 the Nightlights and Johnny Winter shared a
bill and met. 

Drummer Uncle John Turner

With Winter

They met again in Houston in 1968 when Turner replaced drummer Jimmy Gillan in Winter’s soul music band. Turner convinced Winter to follow his heart and play the blues. They added  Tommy Shannon to play bass.

Johnny wanted to play blues; he just had never been in a position to be able to,” Turner told Winter’s biographer. “We were the first guys that would go out on a limb with him and gamble for the future.”

The trio recorded “The Progressive Blues Experiment,” “Johnny Winter,” and “Second Winter.”

The summer of 1969 found them playing many festivals, including the most famous of all, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair. Johnny’s brother Edgar Winter joined them there for most of the set. 

Drummer Uncle John Turner

Without Winter

After splitting with Johnny Winter in 1970, Uncle John moved to Austin, where he and Shannon formed Krackerjack, a band featuring a young Stevie Ray Vaughan on guitar. Throughout his long career, Turner played or recorded with many great artists, including B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, and Lightnin’ Hopkins.

During the 80’s and 90’s, Turner continued to shape Austin’s blues scene, playing with guitarist Alan Haynes and with Appa Perry’s Blues Power.

Drummer Uncle John Turner


In November of 2006, Uncle John Turner, Tommy Shannon and Johnny Winter reunited. It was the trio’s first live performance together in more than 20 years.

Uncle John Turner died  on July 26, 2007 in Austin, Texas from complications related to hepatitis C. He was 62 years old.

He had jammed with B. B. King, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie King, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and many more.

He had recorded with Walter “Shakey” Horton, Willie Dixon, Albert Collins, Nuno Mindelis (the Blues King of Brazil), Benoît Blue Boy (the godfather of French blues), Lazy Lester, and many more.

Thanks to the Uncle John Turner site and the Just Ask site  for much of this information.

Drummer Uncle John Turner

One thought on “Drummer Uncle John Turner”

  1. Via Facebook from Tommy Taylor: Huge influence and a friend. Along with Tommy Shannon they wrote the book on white Texas Roadhouse Boogie/Blues accompaniment.

    I play a lot of blues. I never set out to be a blues drummer. I really wasn’t very familiar with blues except what the English cats were playing…and some very early exposure to Bobby Bland when I was little. I bought the Progressive Blues Experiment from the record bin at a grocery store one lonely Summer day in 1969 as a 12 year old aspiring drummer, just as Led Zeppelin was making their first push to become the iconic group that they were. While Zep had their moments, that summer I shelved their record in favour of the edgier homegrown sounds of Uncle John Turner, Tommy Shannon and Johnny Winter.
    Later that same summer, on Labour Day Weekend, I sat at Johnny’s feet on a small stage at an impromptu performance in Austin, Texas, just 2 weeks after their triumphant Woodstock performance.

    When people ask me about shuffles and slow blues, I have to inevitably point to John. I don’t know the ins and outs of the various colloquial variables of the blues beats…for me John is my personal archetype. I play every week with Tommy Shannon. I can play a bit like John and with Tommy I can close my eyes and just feel like I’m part of that golden sound. When Unc. and Tommy were let go from Johnny’s band, they moved back to Texas and started Krackerjack. The greatest band in the world that never made it. Stevie Vaughan did a stint as their guitarist. Bruce Bowland could easily be considered the archetype for Chris Robinson and Krackerjack, the same for the Black Crowes.

    Here they are in a 2004 reunion performance.


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