Chris Turner

Biography by

Australia-based guitarist Chris Turner has both produced and played on dozens of recordings since the early '60s, developing a widely eclectic style with a backbone in the popular genre of electric rock…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Australia-based guitarist Chris Turner has both produced and played on dozens of recordings since the early '60s, developing a widely eclectic style with a backbone in the popular genre of electric rock and blues. The range of his abilities is well displayed on his CD Guitar Stories, Vol. 1 which in terms of stories is like an evening spent browsing at an extremely well-stocked used bookstore. Not only is there blues in both its electric and acoustic varieties, there is also Celtic music, hard rock, free-form experiments, and a cover of Richie Valens' maudlin "Donna," just in case listeners don't get the point that this London-born picker is willing to try anything. He started playing professionally on the London scene at the outset of the '60s, often opening up shows for artists such as David Bowie and Manfred Mann. After a decade of struggle, he relocated his group to Auckland, New Zealand, where through many tours of the island he developed his skills as a bandleader as well as a player. He moved to Sydney, Australia, in 1970, signing on with a package show, called the Action, and touring the Phillipines and Vietnam. Surely it was more "action" than any musician would have wanted, since he apparently was almost killed during band escapades in the latter country while it was under attack by the United States, as well as some forces from Australia itself. He once again formed his own band when this exciting time was over and toured New South Wales and Queensland. These were grueling, jam-packed tours, one of them lasting over 18 months. Turner's eight-piece band Drain, loud and bombastic with two drummers and a horn section, blasted ears in the Sydney rock clubs. In 1974, he joined the heavy rock band Buffalo. He began to push his songwriting abilities, recording and writing the title-track on the group's fifth album Average Rock 'n' Roller. This group frequently played on Australian radio and TV, and toured as a support act for Richie Blackmore's Rainbow.

With his own group, the Chris Turner Band, continuing in the late '70s, the guitarist also took time to work with Rose Tattoo, F.J. Holden, and Stevie Wright, a former member of the chart-topping band the Easybeats. He recorded a track for The Australian Guitar Album and a solo album, My Guitar 'n' Me, was released in 1980, prompting another constant round of touring. After releasing his first and only single in 1982, he teamed up in the following year with Ronnie Peel, also known as Rockwell T. James, a veteran of the well-known Australian band the La-De-Da's. The two formed a band known as the Scattered Aces, releasing a wild rockabilly version of "Waltzing Matilda" with an Eddie Cochran cover on the flip. The band was considered a perfect example of the nation's pub rock combos, but was unable to proceed further from these smoky and beer-drenched venues. Turner began padding his bank account through session work on radio and television ads and also began to emerge as a producer. He also guested on the ultra-heavy Let There Be Rock by AC/DC in a show of solidarity for eardrum smashing from the South Pacific. He began a collaboration with Alan Lancaster, a veteran from another '60s and '70s band that had enjoyed several heavy guitar hits, the Status Quo. In the late '80s, he recorded and produced the BB Strut album Four Play and went on a promotional tour for the band. He also kept two different rockabilly and blues combos, the Tom Cats and the Wolf Tones, gigging around New South Wales. In this same period, he showed he was capable of more than hanging around pubs and recording studios by establishing the College of Contemporary Guitar in Sydney. He also underwent major hand surgery, but far from causing problems his playing began to sound as if the doctor had sewed an extra finger on the guy. The aforementioned Guitar Stories, which illustrates its blend of musical styles with a 12-page booklet of road stories and illustrations, has been his best-received project to date. More recent productions also include a Roy Orbison tribute with Robin Lee Sinclair and Turner's band the Tee Jays. In 2001, he began working on three new recordings simultaneously, including albums with his bands the Wolf Tones and the Shooters, as well as a second volume of Guitar Stories.