The "Singing River Boy" as they called Jack Turner came from
Haleyville, Alabama. Jack's fater was S.W. Turner, a conductor
on the I.C. Railroad.
Jack made his first public appearance when he was six years old
and sang at a county wide gathering that encompassed all
Winston County schools. They say he wore that blue ribbon on
his overalls button til it wore out. His mom gave him a ukelele
when he was seven and in a couple years, he got his first guitar,
an $8.00 special. Where he lived, there were many good fiddle
players and before long, Jack could 'second' to
the old-time breakdowns. (If you read some of the books about country music history,
you'll find that Alabama had quite a history of country fiddlers.)
Jack had another artistic bent to him. He also enjoyed
painting and drawing. His parents often wondered what to make
of his varied interests and which way he would turn. He just about
almost chose the artist in him as a career. After he graduated from
high school, he headed up to Nasvhille to enroll in an advertising
art school. However, the very first Saturday he was there, he went
to WSM's Grand Ole Opry and the itch to sang came back again. And
somehow, he managed to work both loves into his life.
Early 1942 saw some changes in Jack's life. He met a gal named
Lorene Davidson who was from northern Alabama. Later, he enrolled
in the US Navy. While there, he formed a hillbilly band and entertained
his fellow troops. He also kept up his artistic work by drawing
charts and illustrations along with his regular duties as Yeoman.
When he got out of the service, he moved his family to Montgomery,
Alabama. By then, he had two daughters, Jacqueline and Dixilyn.
He got work as an artist-illustrator at the Air University at
Maxwell AFB. And also hooked up with a local radio station, too, but
they don't mention which one. If he had any spare time, he spent it
composing songs and taking private lessons in portrait painting. Not
to mention taking an ICS course in commercial art, selling vacuum
cleaners part-time and accepting commissions to do portraits.
Television came to Montgomery like it did to many cities back then.
And Jack auditioned and became a regular member of the first Saturday
night hillbilly program, "Bar Twenty" that aired over WCOV-TV. He
stayed with that for several months. He was turning to music and singing
more and more it seems. When WBAM radio came on the air, Jack
was a guest on Shorty Sullivan's first "Deep South Jamboree" program
and had stayed with them it appears through the mid-1950s. Jack
eventually got his own show on WBAM and signed on with the RCA Victor
record label in 1954. Some of the releases he had back then included:
"Shoot I Reckon I Love You" backed with "Walkin' A Chalk Line"; "If I
Could Only Win Your Love" backed with "I'm Getting Married Tonight".
Credits & Sources
- Cowboy Songs Number 39; February 1955; American Folk Publications, Inc.