Taste & See KC: 'Big' Joe Turner, the grandfather of rock and roll

Posted at 6:54 PM, Jun 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-25 19:54:17-04

The grandfather of rock and roll hails from right here in Kansas City.

“Big” Joe Turner is a Kansas City native who spent his youth following around jazz singers and getting paid 50 cents a day to lead a blind musician around the city.

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But in the 1930s he became a commanding jazz singer on his own. His booming voice was loud enough to fill the clubs near 18th and Vine without a microphone.

Eventually, he moved to New York, where he began his recording career and became a star in the 1940s.

Turner’s “jumpier” style of jazz and blues is considered one of the earliest forms of rock and roll music. The Los Angeles Times wrote after his death that he “transformed decades of urban black music into the roots of rock 'n' roll.”

Turner continued recording and performing his music until his death in 1985. Now, he is believed to be the most recorded jazz and blues singer ever.