By John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal
Sonny Turner, the last link to the legendary R&B vocal group the Platters to headline in Las Vegas, died Thursday at his daughter’s home in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. He was 82.
Turner’s friend and stage partner Michelle Johnson confirmed Turner’s death Thursday afternoon. Turner had long been battling throat cancer, which he had beaten for a time but returned and spread throughout his body. The great showman had lived in Las Vegas for years, but taken to his daughter Kyle Tolliver-Jordan’s home on Wednesday to be placed in hospice care.
“My father had the gift of singing songs as if he were singing directly to you,” his daughter Kyle said Friday morning. “The lyrics in those classic songs were like poetry.” Turner is survied by children Tammie Turner; Tolliver-Jordan; and Gina Bartie-Cook. Plans for a celebration of life in Las Vegas are pending.
Johnson referred to Turner as “my second dad, my boss, my mentor, my dear friend, our legend, our brilliantly talented, funny, gifted, incredible human.”
“I will never forget you and all you did for me,” Johnson posted on Facebook. “Our time together was precious.”
Turner replaced Tony Williams of lead singer of the Platters in late 1959. At the time, Turner was singer for The Metrotones, who were opening for star comic Redd Foxx in Cleveland when the Platters position was about to open up.
He was also good friends with the great Jackie Wilson, whom he considered his entertainment mentor.
Turner topped about 100 other singers to assume the role. Turner sang lead on such classics as the 1966 hit “I Love You 1000 Times,” “With This Ring,” a year later, and “Washed Ashore” in 1968.
Turner re-recorded several Platters hits that pre-dated his arrival with the band, including “Only You,” “The Great Pretender” and “The Magic Touch.” He left the band in 1970 to pursue a solo career.
Turner sang on the soundtracks of several feature films, among them “The Nutty Professor II” starring Eddie Murphy, “Hearts in Atlantis” starring Anthony Hopkins and “Prince of the City” starring Robert DeNiro.
In Las Vegas, Turner revived the Platters’ heyday in performances at Suncoast Showroom. Turner would also often join shows as an unbilled guest, including his late friend Gregg Austin’s M Town revue at South Point Showroom. Turner and his fellow R&B icon and good friend Sonny Charles co-starred in ““On the Sonny Side of the Strip” with the Henderson Symphony at Henderson Pavilion in October 2016.
Turner also occasionally jumped into Kelly Cinton-Holmes’ open-mic nights at Bootlegger Bistro. His final appearance in a ticketed show was alongside Johnson in her show at Italian American Club Showroom last July. As Johnson said, “I loved him so much.”reviewjournal.com
Sonny Turner, lead singer of The Platters, dies at 83
Sonny Turner Died