OXFORD • Don McKibben knew his cousin, David Turner, had a gift for music. But it was a country music superstar who told McKibben just how versatile Turner was.
“When Kenny Rogers came to Ole Miss a few years ago, David and I went to the concert and met up with Kenny after the show,” McKibben said. “We were just sitting around talking, and Kenny started telling about all the instruments David played. I didn’t know David could play them.”
Turner, an Oxford resident who spent more than 40 years in the music industry working with various recording artists, died Wednesday in a tour bus accident in California. He was a sound engineer for country/gospel singer Josh Turner until the bus carrying David and the rest of the tour crew left the highway and crashed.
Funeral services for David Turner, who was 64, will be Tuesday in Oxford.
It was in his hometown of Bruce where Turner began developing his all-around skills that led him to the University of Mississippi and then to Nashville. Turner worked with stars like Tammy Wynette, Hank Williams Jr., Conway Twitty, Eddie Rabbit and Patty Loveless before joining Josh Turner.
“David began playing the guitar he was 12,” said his sister, Anne Baggett of Fulton. “He was also in the band in high school. He played many different instruments.”
McKibben, a Pontotoc County resident, said he reconnected with his cousin after moving to Mississippi from Texas in 2006.
“We enjoyed talking about a lot of things, especially politics,” McKibben said. “David was musically inclined and I’m not.”
Though David and Josh weren’t related, McKibben said the two Turners formed a close friendship and working relationship. Josh Turner canceled the rest of the September tour dates after the accident.
“When Josh was selecting (his crew) when he was starting out, I believe David was the first one he wanted,” McKibben said. “If someone in the band couldn’t perform, David would help the assistant sound man set up and then David would step in and play.”
McKibben appreciated Turner’s help in organizing a band that would perform on Thanksgiving weekend at the state veterans home in Oxford. McKibben is a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, an organization whose members attend the funerals of members of the U.S. military and first responders.
“David would call up musicians he knew. They’d get together to work on a few songs and then they’d play for the veterans,” he said. “David would play lead guitar. The veterans loved it.”
A friend of Turner, Jerry Slone, told WKRN-TV in Nashville that Turner was respected in the music industry.
“David was an all-around, actually one of my favorite audio engineers,” Slone said. “Sweet guy, gentle soul, big heart.”
In addition to his sister and her husband, Donald, Turner is survived by his wife, Jamie Henderson Turner of Oxford; daughter, Ada Turner Byrd and her husband, Scott of Tupelo; brother, Richard Turner and his wife, Bonita of Hattiesburg; and three grandchildren, Andrew, Matthew and Hannah, all of Tupelo.