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Mary Lou Turner
Born:  June 13, 1947
WSM Nashville, TN
WWVA Wheeling, WV

About The Artist

Mary Lou Turner; Joe Turner; WWVA 1966 Mary Lou Turner, a native of Hazard, Kentucky, moved with her parents to Dayton, Ohio in early childhood, following the path of thousands of Appalachians seeking a better way of life. Others who followed this path included the Osborne Brothers, Red Allen and Joe Isaacs. While they made names for themselves in bluegrass, Ms. Turner found her musical home in mainstream country. Her career path went from Dayton to Wheeling's Jamboree to Nashville and eventually to Branson, Missouri.

Turner was only an infant when her parents left the mountains for Ohio's Miami Valley. As a teenager, she guested a couple of times on WLW's Midwestern Hayride and recorded a custom single on a label in Nashville.

After high school, the young vocalist secured a regular spot on WWVA's soon to be renamed Jamboree U S A. She also married David Byrd who would serve as her pianist and band leader.

Mary Lou spent nearly eight years at the Jamboree. During this time, she recorded a long play album on the Jamboree label. Her appearance schedule took her through many adjacent states in the East and Midwest as well as an extended tour of military bases.

Promo Ad - Mary Lou Turner - Lancaster PA - 1967 Promo Ad - Mary Lou Turner - Idlewild Park - 1966

But another break came her way when Bill Anderson's long-time female vocalist Jan Howard left his employ and Ms. Turner took her place in January 1973. Billboard told readers in an early February issue that Mary Lou's first appearance with Bill was in Charlotte, NC. She was said to be warmly received by a crowd of over 8,000.

She was also on Bill Anderson's first tour in the United Kingdom; it started on February 5, 1975. In another first, Bill brought Jimmy Gately and the Po' Boys along with Mary Lou to the famed Palomino club in Los Angeles for the first time in February 1976.

In October of 1976, Billboard named Bill Anderson and Mary Lou Turner as Vocal Duo of the Year. The awards were based on the top records of the year and their charts.

The Anderson connection also got Mary Lou a contract with his label, MCA (formerly Decca). Over the next five years she had ten singles on MCA, seven of which made the Billboard charts. "It's Different with You" ranked highest at the 25th spot in 1976. On the other hand, her two long-play albums and four charted duets with Whispering Bill did much better. "Sometimes" hit number one in 1975 and two more made the top twenty with the 1977 "Where Are You Going, Billy Boy" (a re-write of an old traditional ballad) being perhaps the most memorable.

Bill Anderson; Po' Boys; Mary Lou Turner; Billboard Ad - 1975

By 1978, Turner had departed from MCA and in 1980 from the Bill Anderson connection. Before leaving Bill, she went with him on a United Kingdom tour in February. In early March of 1980, Loudilla Johnson was reporting that Mary Lou had recently formed her own road show. At the same time, she formed her own Fan Club that was presided over by Jo Schmitt in Minnesota.

Signing with the new Churchill Records label, she charted four times, but none went higher than #78. First she went solo and then sang some gospel.

By the mid-1980's, Mary Lou and David found a new home in Branson where she worked as vocalist and he as pianist in Boxcar Willie's (Lecil Martin) successful theater venture. The Byrds spent several seasons there through at least 1994 and probably longer.

While no later information is available to this writer, the reports that Mary Lou Turner retired in 1980 were at least premature by fifteen years.

Portrait Photos - Mary Lou Turner

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • Nashville Scene; Bill Williams; February 10, 1973; The Bilboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • From The Music Capitals of the World: London; January 25, 1975; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Talent In Action: Bill Anderson; Bob Kirsch; February 7, 1976; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Top Country Awards; October 16, 1976; The Billboar8d; Cincinnati, OH
  • Country Club' N; Loudilla Johnson; March 3, 1980; The Leaf-Chronicle; Clarksville, TN

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
20th Century Fox
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  613 A I'm Hopin'
  613 B That's A Long Long Time
 
Churchill
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  7741 A Yours and Mine
  7741 B You Can?t Remember and I Can?t Forget
  7744 A Caught with My Feelings Down
  7744 B You Can?t Remember and I Can?t Forget
  7751 A I Wanna Love You Tonight
  7751 B If You Cross that Bridge
 
Jamboree USA
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  45-101 A To The Other Woman (I'm The Other Woman)
  45-101 B I Don't Believe
  JUSA-105 A Like We Used To
  JUSA-105 B I Built A Wall
 
MCA
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  40146 A Poor Sweet Baby
  40146 B Workin? on My Mind
  40244 A All that Keeps Me Goin?
  40244 B I?ll Always Be Your Woman
  40343 A Come on Home
  40343 B Tomorrow
  40448 A I Wish It Was Love
  40448 B The World Needs Country Music
  40488 A Sometimes (w/Bill Anderson)
  40488 B Circle in a Triangle (w/Bill Anderson)
  40533 A That?s What Made Me Love You (w/Bill Anderson)
  40533 B Can We Still Be Friends (w/Bill Anderson)
  40566 A It?s Different with You
  40566 B Old Habits Are Hard to Break
  40620 A Love It Away
  40620 B Must You Throw Dirt in My Face
  40674 A Cheatin? Overtime
  40674 B I Never Have the Time
  40727 A The Man Still Turns Me On
  40727 B Maybe It?s Time to Start Calling It Love
  40753 A Where Are You Going Billy Boy (w/Bill Anderson)
  40753 B Sad Ole Shade of Gray (w/Bill Anderson)
  40828 A He Picked Me Up When You Let Me Down
  40828 B A Man Can?t Live By Bed Alone
  40852 A I?m Way Ahead of You (w/Bill Anderson)
  40852 B Just Enough to Make Me Want It All (w/Bill Anderson)
  40898 A You Left Your Sunshine with Me
  40898 B Oh, Boy
 
Nashville
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  5239 A The Frame of Mind You?re In
  5239 B I Lost My Biggest Race
 
RCI
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  2372 A Have I Told You Lately that I Love You
  2372 B You Can?t Fall in Love When You?re Cryin?
 
Sincere
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  BB-833-14 A Indian Giver
  BB-833-14 B (If God Can Forgive You) So Can I
 
Sugartree
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  ST-0501 A An Afternoon Of Love (w/Clifford Russell)
  ST-0501 B Lovebound (w/Clifford Russell)


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