Blackberry Smoke drummer Brit Turner dead at 57

Brit Turner onstage in 2017
(Image credit: Rick Diamond via Getty Images)

Brit Turner, drummer with southern rockers Blackberry Smoke, has died at the age of 57. The news was confirmed in a social media post from the band.

The statement reads: "It is with the deepest sorrow that we inform everyone that our brother Brit Turner has moved on from this life. 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 [an aggressive form of brain cancer] 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."

Turner was hospitalised in Agust 2022 after suffering a heart attack at home, but was able to return to the stage shortly after. He was diagnosed with glioblastoma later the same year and had surgery to remove a tumour from his skull, but was able to return to the road with Blackberry Smoke within days. At more recent shows, his place has been taken by Atlanta sticksman Kent Aberle. 

Brit Turner and brother Richard (the bass player in Blackberry Smoke), were both familiar faces on the Atlanta scene, initially in the thrash metal band Nihilist. The pair then hooked up with Charlie Starr in Buffalo Nickel, whose one album Longplay 33 1⁄3 was released in 2000, before the trio formed Blackberry Smoke with guitarist Paul Jackson. Brit Turner appeared on each of the band's subsequent albums, the most recent of which, Be Right Here, was released in February but recorded with his illness looming large.   

"It gave the recording process, and then everything after, sort of…" Starr told Classic Rock last month. "I say a sense of urgency, but it didn’t put us in a hurry. It just made all that time really precious. Everybody took a long hard look at it, like: ‘We get to do this, we get to make music and make records and work with Dave Cobb [producer] and work together’. And it just made it seem really special."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.