It has been a bad string of luck for Brit Turner, who is the long time drummer of Southern rock titans Blackberry Smoke. But he’s on the mend after doctors recently found a brain tumor and had to conduct surgery, as Blackberry was forced to cancel a show and play another acoustically in his absence. The band has now brought on a substitute drummer for upcoming performances.
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 played acoustically, but Turner was able to make a full recovery and return to the stage. Then lo and behold, he recently began to experience further problems.
“Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction,” the band said on November 3rd. “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.”
The development meant Blackberry Smoke had to postpone their planned show on Friday, November 4th in Montgomery, AL on their tour celebrating the 10 Year Anniversary of the release of their album The Whippoorwill. The good news is that Brit Turner had surgery on Monday, November 7th where they removed most of the tumor, and he is currently recovering from the surgery.
Blackberry Smoke has tour dates coming up November 9th in San Antonio, November 10th in Austin, and November 11th in Houston before opening for the Turnpike Troubadours at their big arena show on November 12th at the Paycom Center in Oklahoma City. Blackberry has confirmed they will play these shows, and with a full band with drummer Mike Rizzi filling in for Brit Turner.
Those who know about Blackberry Smoke, they know that Brit Turner is a founding member of the band, and is also considered the heartbeat and big brother the band, helping to keep Blackberry Smoke together since its formation in 2000, and chronicling the band all along the way. Brit keeps collections of all the accolades, accomplishments, tour posters, credentials, and everything else from the band’s lineage. He’s also the brother of Blackberry Smoke bass player Richard Turner.
Fill-in drummer Mike Rizzi is a well-known and seasoned drummer who played with the band Five Eight out of Athens, Georgia for 9 years. He was also the drummer for Sonia Leigh in 2011-2012 when Sonia was signed to Zac Brown Band’s Southern Ground record label. Blackberry Smoke was signed with Southern Ground at the same time, and released The Whippoorwill on the label.
Meanwhile, the dedicated fans of Blackberry Smoke continue to share their thoughts and prayers for a full recovery for Brit Turner. More information on Brit Turner’s condition when it is available.