Platters featuring former original lead singer "Sonny Turner"
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singer Charles Arnold
"Sonny" Turner was born
on September 24,
mother, Pearl, was a gospel singer, and his father Carl, was a
Turner moved to Cleveland,
where he attended Case Woodland Elementary School and graduated
from East Technical High School.
In 1959 Turner met Bill Crane, the talent scout for the R&B
group, The Platters, while performing as an opening act for
Foxx. Sonny was appearing
in Cleveland, and at the same time the Los Angeles radio DJ,
Bill Crane, was helping Buck Ram recruit a replacement for Tony
Williams, who was leaving to pursue a solo career. Crane spotted
Turner performing at Cleveland’s Music Box, and liked what he
heard. After recording a demo tape the next day, and with Ram’s
approval, Crane, Turner and Turners mother caught a night
sleeper train to Wisconsin where the Platters were performing,
for an in-person audition with the group. Eventually, out of
over 100 prospects, 19 year old Sonny Turner stepped into the
lead role. He soon would become the newest member of the world
famous Platters. Turner met with Platter's manager, Buck Ram and
the group's members David Lynch, Herb Reid, Zola Taylor, and
Paul Robbie. That evening, The Platters were appearing at an
upscale nightclub in Milwaukee called Club Henrys. Turner sang
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" in between the group's performances.
Ex-Platter member, Tony Williams, the original lead singer on
"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" was present in the club. Although
Williams' presence caused Turner to become reluctant, he
performed and was congratulated by Williams who was behind the
stage curtains. The group had a meeting in the dressing room
that night, and Turner was made an official member of The
Platters, replacing Tony Williams as the lead singer of The
Platters. Turner's first show came in Washington, D.C. when the
Platters were the closing performance for a musical show that
Davis, Jr. The group
also toured internationally and performed for dignitaries in
Turner became world famous for his leads on “I Love You 1000
Times”, With This Ring I Promise You” and “Washed Ashore,” with
The Platters. Herb Reed said, “Sonny Turner was extremely
instrumental in helping me keep The Platters together.
Turner was interviewed by The History Makers on November
Sonny brought The Platters back to the pop charts in the 1960's
with such hits as "I love you 1000 Times", "With this ring" and
"Washed Ashore"; as well as re-recording major Platter hits like
"Only You", "The Great Pretender" and "The Magic Touch.
You can hear Sonny's voice in various movies such as "The Nutty
Professor II" starring Eddie Murphy. "Hearts in Atlantis"
starring Anthony Hopkins and "Prince of the City" starring
There are only two surviving members of The Platters still alive
today that can be heard on the hundreds of recordings and hit
records that made The Platters one of the most successful vocal
groups of all time. They are Herb Reed who founded the group in
1953 and sang bass. Zola Taylor, the female vocalist and Sonny
Turner. Sonny remained with The Platters from late 1959 until
1970 when he left to pursue a solo career.
In 2009 at Wildwood New Jersey, Sonny Turner was indicted to the
Pacific Avenue of the Stars and in 2008 received The Gateway
Classic Lifetime Achievement Award. He received the Black Music
Award in 2007.Sonny has also been inducted into the Beach Music
Hall of Fame and Vocal Group Hall of Fame. He is
recognized by the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in his home town
Cleveland, Ohio. Sonny was instrumental in getting the truth in
music laws passed in the state of Nevada and North Dakota.
Performing in Las Vegas lounges and throughout Japan and the
world, Turner puts on an excellent show, mixing in a blend of
Motown and Platters music.
has several recordings under his own label, including
Reflections of Sonny Turner and Sonny Turner “By Request.
“Reflections” includes a Stand By Me medley, a Platters medley,
and Turner’s original music. “By Request” is an excellent CD
full of Turner’s original works, a couple Platters hits. Also
look for a “Sonny Turner’s Platters Live in Japan” CD release in
2000. All of Turner’s albums are available through mail order
(via So-Turner, Inc.) and at repeat.com
Turner is very active in monitoring groups using the Platters
name, and is involved with petitioning Congress for bills which
protect the rights of performers. “I still don’t like the idea
that these supposedly licensed groups can make a living on
Platters music. I know people are hungry and have to feed their
families one way or the other, but let them create their own
legacy... they shouldn’t be taking credit for other performers’
“I felt compelled to take my own legacy to get the truth out” as
quoted by Sonny Turner.
Today Sonny Turner Platters performs all over the world
entertaining thousands with not only Platters hit songs, but
many popular oldies, doo wop, and pop songs of the 60’s,70’s,
80’s and 90’s.