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Titus Turner

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Biography

Although he recorded regularly during the 1950s and 1960s, R&B singer Titus Turner today remains best known as a composer, authoring such perennials as "Leave My Kitten Alone," "All Around the World," and "Sticks and Stones." Born in Atlanta, GA, in 1933, Turner made his recorded debut for OKeh in 1951, in all recording nine singles for the label including "Got So Much Trouble." None made much commercial impact, however, so he moved to Mercury's Wing imprint, where chart success continued to elude him; in 1955, however, Little Willie John scored a major hit with Turner's "All Around the World," later covered by Little Milton under the title "Grits Ain't Groceries." Turner and John also collaborated on the single "Leave My Kitten Alone," subsequently covered by everyone from the Beatles to Elvis Costello. While recording for the King label in 1959, Turner scored his first hit with "The Return of Stag-O-Lee," an answer song to the Lloyd Price classic "Stagger Lee"; his vocal similarity to Price was again exploited for the follow-up, "We Told You Not to Marry," a response to the recent Price smash "I'm Gonna Get Married." Ray Charles' smash rendition of the gospel-inspired "Sticks and Stones" preceded the 1961 release of Turner's biggest hit "Sound Off," the title track from his lone studio LP; follow-ups like "Party Train" and "Miss Rubberneck Jones" failed to maintain the momentum, however, and he spent the remainder of the decade recording little-heard sides for a series of labels including Enjoy, Columbia, Atco, Murbo, Philips, and Josie. 1969's "His Funeral, My Trial" was Turner's recorded swan song; he died in Atlanta in 1984.

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