Remembering Brit Turner

Remembering Brit Turner

For Variety by By Chris Willman

Read the full article HERE.

Brit Turner, drummer for the popular Southern rock band Blackberry Smoke, has died at age 57, the group announced on social media.

He had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a cancer of the brain, and underwent surgery for the aggressive condition in November 2022. Following that treatment, Turner continued to play with Blackberry Smoke on tour through December 2023.

“It is with the deepest sorrow that we inform everyone that our brother Brit Turner has moved on from this life,” the group said in its statement. “If you had the privilege of knowing Brit on any level, you know he was the most caring, empathetic, driven and endearing person one could ever hope to meet. Brit was Blackberry Smoke’s True North, the compass that instituted the ideology that will continue to guide this band.  Brit has battled glioblastoma since his diagnosis in the fall of 2022 and fought every day. We ask for prayers for his family and band brothers. More information on arrangements will be forthcoming. Thank you to everyone who has supported and been there for Brit and his family through this fight.”

Reactions quickly came in from fellow musicians after word of the death got out Sunday.

“My longtime brother has moved on,” wrote Butch Walker. “I am heartbroken and have been crying all night but i know he’s finally at peace. Long live Brit Turner.”

Said Duane Betts, “I’m so sorry. Brit was an amazing human being and I feel so privileged I was able to get know him as well as I did. Sending love and prayers to the family. We love you always, Brit Turner.”

The group further suggested on social media that anyone interested in helping out Turner’s family visit this page for Families and Communities Together Relief (FACT), which offers aid to families whose principal bread-winner is struck by a serious illness.

Turner was a founding member of the band, along with his brother, bass player Richard Turner.

The group’s latest album, the Dave Cobb-produced “Be Right Here,” came out Feb. 16, and just debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard rock album schart and No. 26 on Billboard’s country albums chart.

Blackberry Smoke has continued to tour into 2024 with a substitute drummer since the beginning of the year.

Turner’s health issues first became known when suffered a heart attack at home in Atlanta in August 2022; he received a stent and was able to make a recovery and return to the stage soon thereafter. In November of that year, he was taken to the ER and an MRI revealed a tumor on his brain that was described as rare and aggressive. But later in the month he returned to playing drums on tour, within weeks of having part of his skull removed in order to have the tumor operated upon.

Turner was born in Michigan and raised in Georgia. In 2000, he and his brother formed Blackberry Smoke with singer-guitarist Charlie Starr and guitarist Paul Jackson. The band’s first album, “The Whippoorwhill,” was released in 2012 through country star Zac Brown’s Southern Ground label. Subsequent albums came out through Rounder and Thirty Tigers. The group often placed on multiple genre charts, including the country albums chart, where their 2015 album “Holding All the Roses” became the first independent release to go No. 1 there.

In an interview in March 2022, before his own diagnosis, Turner talked about how his daughter had been diagnosed with cancer at age 2 and the family’s struggle to deal with it. “She kept going and going and beating the odds. Some kids died. Some re-lapsed. She is truly a survivor,” Turner said of his daughter’s battle with the disease. At the time, he said he and his family and compatriots had raised a half-million dollars for hospitals and organizations dealing with children’s cancer.

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