Turner was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2022

Brit Turner Blackberry Smoke
Brit Turner of Blackberry Smoke [Getty]

Blackberry Smoke drummer Brit Turner has died. The musician was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2022. The tumor developed into glioblastoma, a common form of cancer in the brain. The band confirmed his death on their official social media. He was 57 years old.

“It is with the deepest sorrow that we inform everyone that our brother Brit Turner has moved on from this life,” the band said in a 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.”

Just two weeks ago on February 16, Blackberry Smoke released their eighth studio album, Be Right Here. Produced by nine-time GRAMMY® Award winner Dave Cobb (Rival Sons, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton), the record is the group’s fourth release through 3 Legged. Additionally, the band recently announced a string of U.S. summer tour dates with Whiskey Myers.

In 2022, Brit Turner suffered a medical “episode” and was rushed to the emergency room. The band revealed that Turner had recently suffered a heart attack, and it was believed that the latest medical issue stemmed from the heart attack. After receiving an MRI, doctors found a tumor on the frontal lobe of Turner’s brain.

“Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction,” the band said at the time. “Friends, we have to postpone Friday night’s show in Montgomery, Alabama. At the performing arts center. It was supposed to be a Whippoorwill 10th anniversary show, but due to the current circumstances we do not feel right about trying to put something together for this Friday. Earlier this week, Brit Turner suffered an episode and needed to be taken to the ER. He was feeling alright but due to the issues from his recent heart attack, his medical team elected to keep him in the hospital and run a series of tests to determine what could have caused the situation. Upon receiving an MRI they found a tumor on his brain in the frontal lobe. We do not know any more than that at this time. Brit is now undergoing surgery and more testing to find out what his next steps to a healthy recovery will be.”

Glioblastoma (GBM), also referred to as a grade IV astrocytoma, is a fast-growing and aggressive brain tumor, according to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. It invades the nearby brain tissue, but generally does not spread to distant organs. GBMs can arise in the brain de novo or evolve from lower-grade astrocytoma. In adults, GBM occurs most often in the cerebral hemispheres, especially in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.

Born in Mt. Clemons, Michigan, Brit Turner grew up in Smyrna, Georgia.

In a 2012 guest post for Modern Drummer, Turner reflected, “I received a snare drum for Christmas from my parents before the 6th grade. It was a purple sparkle Stewart set. My father played in a big band in the early days while becoming an officer in the air force. Granny played piano and my uncle Brit plays guitar. I guess that’s how I got exposed to music. My cousin sent me a 1960s Slingerland kick, snare, and tom, which I played until I had the money to buy my own kit. I soon caught the AC/DC, Rush, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden bug. This required more drums and other shiny things, so it was off to Atlanta Pro Percussion (The Drum Closet) in Smyrna, Georgia, to get an extra tom or five.”

He continued, “Fast forward to playing in basements through high school. My brother and I played in a heavy band in the late ’80s early ’90s. We quickly accepted local opening slots for the likes of Iron Maiden, Metallica, Motörhead, and others. To support my habit of breaking cymbals, I took a job at the massive new location of Atlanta Pro Percussion. I was immediately introduced to some amazing coworker drummers like Sean O’Rourke, Barry “BB Queen” Borden, Sean Burke, Dave Allen, Ed Hamrick, Tony Mac, Billy Pitts, and Ed Magruder. The shop owner hosted drum clinics with Vinnie Colaiuta, Carmine Appice, Matt Sorum, Sonny Emory, and Terry Bozzio, to name a few. All the employees got to meet, have dinner at Aunt Fannies Cabin, and go to a strip club with the owner and clinician. It was tradition. This drum thing was really starting to work out. Wait, now that I think about it, Matt Sorum owes me a cool 300 from our trip to the Gold Club. Yes, I was the kid that drove us outta there in my ’63 Volkswagen.”

Brit Turner says that he eventually got the heavy stuff “out of his system,” and mellowed out to more straight ahead rock music.

“After I got heavy metal out of my system, it was on to straight up rock ’n’ roll, Americana, Southern rock, and traditional country. In twelve years with Blackberry Smoke, we’ve enjoyed some great times. I’ve recorded and performed with George Jones, Jamey Johnson, Billy Gibbons, Slash, Grace Potter, Rickey Medlocke, Rich Robinson, Luther Dickinson, the whole damn Zac Brown Band, Bobby Keys, and Blondie Chaplin from the Rolling Stones for gosh sakes! But more importantly, I’ve played with Blackberry Smoke in every hole in the wall from Bangor, Maine, to Marseille, France, on to the Hollywood Bowl and now Madison Square Garden (with the Zac Brown Band). This climb has been, for the most part, on our own terms. We’re proud of our hard-won accomplishments and are glad that we’ve earned the respect of some amazing people.”

Blackberry Smoke released their debut album Bad Luck Ain’t No Crime in 2003. In 2015, the became the first independent act to top the Billboard Country Albums chart when their fourth LP Holding All the Roses went No. 1. The band’s biggest commercial success was the follow-up, 2016’s Like an Arrow. The album once again topped the Billboard Country Albums chart, and peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard 200. From 2015 to 2018, Blackberry Smoke had three straight No. 1 albums on the UK’s Rock & Metal Albums chart – 2015’s Holding All the Roses, 2016’s Like an Arrow, and 2018’s Find a Light.

Blackberry Smoke Brit Turner dead