In February, as a pilgrim visiting the place of his roots, he found his mother’s grave at the East Springfield Church next to his uncle Leon King’s military-style marker. The two Kings, brother and sister, taught Freddie how to play the guitar. He took their “Country Blues” style to Chicago, where he sat in with Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, and other great South Chicago blues singers and developed his own unique blues riffs and style.
Freddie King then went on to influence Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton and others. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012. Turner played a bass guitar in his half-brother’s band, one of the first integrated blues bands.
Benny and his manager, Sallie Bangtson, visited the area Monday to Wednesday, watching the installation of the marker which names all of Ella Mae’s nine children on the reverse side, and includes the line: “She made a difference.”
Turner is working on a new album, which will include songs reflecting all his influences, including his mother’s style of playing, his uncle Leon’s, and Freddie’s. Tentatively the new album is called Journey. It began before Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005 and is finally reaching completion. At the same time, Ms. Bangtson is interviewing Turner for an “as told to” account of his life with Freddie King and as a blues musician around the world ever since.