Blackberry Smoke’s Brit Turner Battles Through Brain Cancer
In Southern rock, you don’t have “bands” in the normal sense. You have bands of brothers and sisters. They’re more like families than bands. This was one of the reasons the Georgia-based Southern rock band The Allman Brothers named their iconic 1973 album Brothers and Sisters after the passing of band members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley.
This “Brothers and Sisters” designation is especially true for Blackberry Smoke, who also hail from Georgia. And that is why 2022 has been an especially difficult year for the band as the heartbeat and historian of Blackberry Smoke, Brit Turner, has been suffering from major health issues. Along with being a founding member of the band, Brit is the literal brother of bass player Richard Turner, and is considered the big brother to everyone in the band.
On Friday night, December 16th at The Vic Theatre in Chicago, Blackberry Smoke had to stop the show in the middle of the set after Brit Turner experienced an episode and was helped off stage. According to the band, he is currently under medical care and is in stable condition after suffering a seizure. But the fact that Brit Turner was even on the stage to begin with feels like a miracle in itself, and a testament to his character.
It was bad news for Brit Turner on August 16th when he suffered a heart attack at his home in Atlanta. Luckily, Turner was able to make it to the hospital on time where he received a stent in his coronary artery, and was discharged from the hospital on August 18th. Turner missed a few shows as Blackberry Smoke performed acoustically without him, but Turner was able to make a full recovery and return to the stage.
Then on November 3rd, the band announced, “Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction. 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 … Brit is now undergoing surgery and more testing to find out what his next steps to a healthy recovery will be.”
Brit Turner had to have parts of his skull removed so surgeons could remove the tumor. It was diagnosed as an aggressive, rare, and fast-growing form of brain cancer known as Glioblastoma. But almost as miraculous as his recovery was from his heart attack, less than a week after first suffering the episode and having brain surgery, Brit Turner was discharged from the hospital on November 9th once again, and recovering at home.
By November 20th, Brit was back behind the drum set, grooving away no worse for the wear.
On November 25th when Blackberry Smoke played their homecoming show at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta and sold it out for the first time, Brit Turner was right there behind the drum set like he’s always been for his first official show after the surgery, and received a standing ovation from the crowd during band introductions by frontman Charlie Starr (see below).
But then on November 30th, Blackberry Smoke informed the public that Brit Turner was not out of the woods just yet. “Continued testing has revealed his Glioblastoma diagnosis needs aggressive treatment,” the band said. “Fortunately, we are in touch with some of the best specialists to provide him the utmost care. Currently, we are working our way forward using all the resources that are available.”
“Brit will continue to be a part of everything that Blackberry Smoke does,” the band assured. “Due to the nature of these treatments, and his own recovery schedule, we anticipate that there will likely be some periods that may keep Brit away from travel and performing live. We ask that you continue your support and trust that he will make every effort to be at all the shows. We will have someone to fill in case he isn’t.”
Drummers Mike Rizzi and Kent Aberle have both spent periods filling in for Britt during his recovery. Yet despite the November 30th warning from Blackberry Smoke, Brit Turner had been with the band, and performing this week at shows at Webster Hall in New York on December 10th, at the Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh, and in Grand Rapids and Detroit on the 14th and 15th. The band is playing Saturday night at the Crystal Grand Music Theatre in Wisconsin with Kent Aberle filling in.
After two major surgeries, and two major health issues in 2022, Brit Turner has shown incredible grit and persistence to return to the stage at all. Lesser men would have hung it up, or at least taken longer periods to recover, and lesser bands may have moved on to find another drummer. But not Brit Turner and Blackberry Smoke.
Though it can be expected to be touch and go for Brit Turner as the band continues to be one of the hardest touring outfits out there on the road and is already filling in their 2023 tour schedule, Brit Turner will remain the heartbeat of Blackberry Smoke, wherever he happens to be.
Those wanting to support Brit Taylor can do so on Fact Relief.
December 17, 2022 @ 11:56 am
The third best medical center / trauma center in the Midwest is 2 blocks from the Vic Theater, and the first and second are 10-20 minutes south, so he will be getting excellent treatment and care.
December 17, 2022 @ 12:49 pm
Wish him the best.
December 17, 2022 @ 1:25 pm
BBS is a great band. Thanks to trigger and this website for turning me onto them as well as keeping me updated. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery for Brit and for more great records and tours from this great band that is keeping the Southern rock flame alive.
George "Cowboy" Daniels
December 18, 2022 @ 2:25 pm
Love this band and the music they make!!!
Brit Turner is a “Human Metronome”, I love the way he plays!!! The band is a combination of fantastic, awesome musician/performers along with the front man Charlie Starr, singer/songwriter who plays the hell out of the guitar!
Praying continuously for Brit to be able to continue as the heartbeat of Blackberry Smoke!!! We love you, Brit!!
December 17, 2022 @ 1:33 pm
God Bless Ya, Brit!
December 17, 2022 @ 1:35 pm
How can you not love each and every one of these guys. This band is a powerhouse in today’s music scene. Everyone who follows this band is thinking of Britt and his family most, and a for a full recovery.
December 17, 2022 @ 2:21 pm
Charlie could replace him with any drummer in the world, and he doesn’t. That, folks, is LOYALTY.
December 22, 2022 @ 9:23 pm
Charlie is not only a loyal friend & brother, but he is and ordained minister. There more Charlie than most know.
December 17, 2022 @ 2:42 pm
Oh no, all the best from a fan in Germany, I love Blackberry Smoke.
December 17, 2022 @ 6:28 pm
Get well, Brit! Health first.
December 17, 2022 @ 8:20 pm
KEEP BANGING AWAY BROTHER BRITT ,
CAN’T BEAT THE BANDS
BEAT KEEPER DOWN!!!
BRAVO , BRAVO
December 17, 2022 @ 8:49 pm
Without a doubt, BBS is the best band I’ve listened to in a long time. Their cover of Man of Constant Sorrow live is one of the grooviest versions I’ve heard of this classic. Britt is the man who oversees the guys with his classic drum style carrying the beat in whatever direction they take. Prayers and best wishes to Britt and the band.
December 17, 2022 @ 9:29 pm
You are incredible Britt ! And so are all your brother band members!Lord know we need more people like them in this world my wife and I love you guys we seen you at red rocks and in Mankato looking forward to the next show! You are a hell of and inspiration!
December 17, 2022 @ 10:01 pm
You are in our prayers hope for a speedy recovery God Bless all the members in the BBS family.
December 17, 2022 @ 10:13 pm
Britt you truly are one hell of a man, and musician !!! To deal with what you have, and to continue to push forward with going onstage and preforming, after all you’ve been through ?! Well….. All I can say is I don’t know a single person, including myself, who could do what you’ve done, and continue to do so, as you have. That’s a real man! You’re an inspiration to all. Praying for you brother!! God Bless!!?
December 18, 2022 @ 1:05 am
I was at vic theater Friday night. 1st we all wish the best and cant wait to see you behind them drums asap. Keep rocking Britt. We need you to keep bbsmoke. The powerhouse band all you are. Players and keep rocking.
December 18, 2022 @ 1:12 am
May you have a full a d speedy recovery. It seems as though you still have more to give or achieve. You have an amazing rebounding ability. May God be your helper!
Ken pettit and Rhonda henderson
December 18, 2022 @ 4:00 am
You are in our prayers hope you get better soon brit so you can keep playing them awesome drums
December 18, 2022 @ 9:14 am
Brit, you truly are the heartbeat of Blackberry Smoke in every sense of the word. The loyalty to you both on and off the stage is incredible, and well deserved. Blackberry Smoke is a band of brothers the world has not seen in many years, if ever. You have brought Southern Rock back to the forefront and made it a your own. You have created that one powerful sound that is like no other. You have a following that most bands only pray for. You have reached the summit and have so much to be proud of. Every one of us brothers and sisters are proud of you and the band. We will miss you while you take time off to fight this fight, but we have faith that you’ll be back to ride this awesome wave you’ve created, so we’ll wait. Never feel alone in this fight. We truly are behind you with so much love and so many prayers. We all love you brother. You’ve definitely got this, and we’ve got you.
December 19, 2022 @ 6:08 am
Fight this hard Britt. You will win see you in Birmingham O2 in march 2023.
December 18, 2022 @ 10:47 am
Prayers for you Brit, keep drumming n leading other bands to great down home rock n roll. Merry Christmas to all.
December 18, 2022 @ 11:21 am
Sincerely, I do think Blackberry Smoke sold out previous shows, including in 2019, the “Homecoming: live in Atlanta. They sell out so many shows. Give ’em a bit more credit, OK? Best from France. Linda
December 18, 2022 @ 11:41 am
That point about the sellout on Brit Turner’s return at the Fox Theater comes from Blackberry Smoke themselves. They have definitely had sellouts in the past, but perhaps not at that particular venue. Definitely was not trying to discount them.
December 18, 2022 @ 12:40 pm
OK, very cool. Thanks for the clarification. Appreciated this story but am rather anxious for Brit. Keep on rock ‘n rolling everybody. Merci, thanks again. Linda
December 27, 2022 @ 7:10 pm
The Brothers & Sisters Holiday Reunion in November has been at the Tabernacle for years. This MAY have been the 1st reunion show at the Fox which would explain the term “1st sell out”. They tend to sell out most all venues across the US. Fans here tend to travel far & wide multiple times a year for shows.
December 28, 2022 @ 7:40 am
Appreciate your taking the time to reply. Thanks! Indeed, I was expected BBS to play at the Tabernacle. I was reacting to the “first sell out” as being rather misleading. Folks, get your tickets as soon as you can for their shows. Paris, France and Portland, Oregon were definitely sold out when I saw them. Antwerp, Belgium perhaps wasn’t a full house. But their upcoming Europe tour should be a sell out! Hope so. See you 24 March 2023 in Paris! Merci Darlene for your reply. Linda
December 19, 2022 @ 9:50 am
We love you Britt God bless your speedy recovery Praying for you and the band. Take care. Can’t stand the thought of losing my brothers
December 19, 2022 @ 2:03 pm
oh no!! I thought everything was good with him now. does this mean the surgery didn’t work? Man I hope he pulls through. supper nice guy. I’ve bumped into him around town a few times, and have seen the band play more times than I can remember. I’m not sure they would be able to stay together without him.
December 20, 2022 @ 10:59 am
Hi, surgery was successful. The surgeon left 10% of the tumor as he felt it was too dangerous to operate in that area. Also he thought this was a non-cancer.
Unfortunately he has Glioblastoma. It’s a doozy to say the least.
Docs cleared him to play and he has maintained his healthy diet and exercise. He suffered the beginnings of a seizure on stage.
The band could not be any more supportive and caring if they tried, and that includes the time our daughter was dealing with her own cancer. 😵💫
I don’t normally jump on but I love this site and there ya go! Shannon
December 22, 2022 @ 4:28 am
You’re the best! I’ve been praying for Brit and family every day! I love all of you!
December 22, 2022 @ 9:27 pm
Prayin’ for Brit
December 19, 2022 @ 2:06 pm
Best r’n’r band around, seen them many times , will see you again in Milan Britt!!
December 19, 2022 @ 5:03 pm
Burn one for Brit! His daughter Lana beat cancer, he will too!
December 20, 2022 @ 7:52 pm
If ever there was someone who has expressed such gratitude for the love and support he has and continues to have, it is Brit. He gives updates and shows pictures of himself surrounded by friends and loved ones. Man, is he loved.
BBS knows how much the fan support will be there. They do so much good. After this difficult time with Brit having a double whammy, the brothers and sisters are stepping up.
Its ok to call a seizure a seizure. This would be a great time to educate the music industry, at least BBS venues, personnel and fans on seizure safety and first aid.
December 22, 2022 @ 9:25 pm
We’re prayin’ for Brit
December 27, 2022 @ 4:33 pm
To Shannon-you appear to be a strong woman. Obvious to see why you & Brit are life partners. So happy you provided an update on this site. We’re very private people & do NO social media. I too am a cancer survivor, I say too because I have faith Brit too will beat this. One small piece of advice…the 3 m’s. Medicine, music & memories. They’re essential to survival. Take a real vaycay when possible & make those memories! Navarre is great. Peace, privacy & somewhat close to home & Brits docs. Not a social religious person, but do believe & pray. You guys & the BBS family are in our thoughts & prayers. Love to all always! Bobby Joe & Darlene
(Friends of Paul’s mom)