Sonny Turner dies at 82; The Platters singer was an R&B legend

Sonny Turner was a master showman who recited Platters hits with classic eloquence.

“My dad had a knack for singing songs like he was singing straight to you,” Turner’s daughter, Kyle Tolliver-Jordan, said Friday morning. “The lyrics to these classic songs were like poetry.”

The latest link in legendary R&B vocal group The Platters to make headlines in Las Vegas, Sonny Turner died Thursday at his daughter’s home in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He was 82 years old.

Turner had been battling throat cancer for a long time, which he beat for a while but returned and spread throughout his body. The great showman had lived in Las Vegas for years but was taken to the Tolliver-Jordan home on Wednesday to be placed in hospice care.

Turner is survived by children Tammie Turner, Tolliver-Jordan and Gina Bartie-Cook. Plans for a celebration of life in Las Vegas are on hold.

Turner’s friend and stage partner Michelle Johnson called Turner “my second father, my boss, my mentor, my dear friend, our legend, our brilliantly talented, funny, gifted, amazing human.”

“I will never forget you and all you have done for me,” Johnson said on Facebook. “Our time together was precious.”

Turner replaced Tony Williams as the Platters’ lead singer in late 1959. At the time, Turner was a vocalist with The Metrotones, who were opening for star comic Redd Foxx in Cleveland when the Platters’ position was about to break. open up.

He was also good friends with the great Jackie Wilson, whom he considered his entertainment mentor.

Turner passed about 100 other singers to take on the role. Turner sang the lead on classics such as the 1966 hit “I Love You 1000 Times,” “With This Ring” a year later, and “Washed Ashore” in 1968.

Turner re-recorded several Platters hits from before he joined the band, including “Only You”, “The Great Pretender”, and “The Magic Touch”. He left the group in 1970 to pursue a solo career.

On Wednesday, Las Vegas showman Earl Turner FaceTimed with the man he called “his namesake, mentor and friend.”

“He epitomized professionalism in every aspect of his demeanor, both onstage and offstage,” Turner said on Facebook. “He spoke with kindness and authority, and he represented pride and dignity in everything he did. Watching him work, I could only say to myself, ‘Now this is how it goes!’ »

The elder Turner once called the rising showman. Earl Turner said: “He didn’t know who I was, because we had never met. He had only heard of this kid whose last name was Turner. For me, that moment was like being blessed by the pope.

Turner has sung on the soundtracks of several feature films, including “The Nutty Professor II” with Eddie Murphy, “Hearts in Atlantis” with Anthony Hopkins and “Prince of the City” with Robert DeNiro.

In Las Vegas, Turner brought the Platters’ heyday to life during performances at the Suncoast Showroom. Turner also often joined shows as an unbilled guest, including his late friend Gregg Austin’s M Town revue at the South Point Showroom.

Turner and fellow R&B icon and good friend Sonny Charles co-starred with Kelly Clinton-Holmes in “On the Sonny Side of the Strip” with the Henderson Symphony at Henderson Pavilion in October 2016.

Turner also occasionally hopped into Kelly Clinton-Holmes’ open-mic nights at Bootlegger Bistro. His last paid show appearance was alongside Johnson in his show at the Italian American Club Showroom last July. As Johnson said, “I loved him so much.”

We (may) have groovers

Upon learning that a 90s-themed hip-hop production is reviewing the International Theater at Westgate Las Vegas for a possible residency. The most recent effort to establish this show brand was “I Love the 90s – The Vegas Show” at the Paris Theater, anchored by Salt N Pepa. This show has toured headliners such as Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath, Rob Base, All-4-One and Kid-N-Play.

“I Love the 90s” ran from October 2018 to January 2019, delivering familiar hits and high energy. I always say there’s an audience for this groove-fest flavor.

Fabulous update

Those who want to witness both ends of the Beatles tribute band The Fab’s “Albumpalooza” on Wednesday nights at Westgate Cabaret gets a discount if they buy tickets for both shows. Tickets are $20 each, $52 for VIPs, with a 25% discount if you buy for both performances. At 5 p.m., it’s “Ones Night Only”, the number 1 of the group. At 8 p.m., it’s “Hello Goodbye”, which covers “Meet the Beatles” and “Abbey Road”. The show is open from 5 years old; 18 and under with a guardian, at or at the Westgate ticket office.

cool hang alert

The progressive jazz-rock group marbin plays Notoriety Live at 6 p.m. (group development clinic) and 8 p.m. (performance). Marbin hails from Chicago, known for their organic creativity dating back to 2009. The band have released eight albums and built a solid following playing festivals around the world. Tickets for both presentations are $25; or $15 for a separate entry. Go to for more details.

John Katsilometes’ column airs daily in Section A. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at Contact him at To follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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