Earl Turner brings classic, classy performance to Westgate

Know how kids used to run away to join the circus?

Earl Turner ran away to join the first in a series of traveling show bands.

Sure, Turner had been performing around his hometown since he was 13. But deciding at 19 to leave town and seriously pursue a career as an entertainer carried with it the same sort of long-shot uncertainty.

But things turned out well. Turner has been playing Las Vegas for almost 30 years — as well as venues on land and at sea all over the world — working in lounges, headlining in showrooms and performing everywhere in between. In doing so, he became that now- rarity: The all-around classic-and -classy entertainer who sings, dances and tells a few jokes and a story or two, all in the service of delighting an audience in ways that today’s enter- tainers don’t necessarily ever master.

Turner is bringing his lifetime of show business expertise to his latest gig, “Soundtrack: Your Songs, Our Stories, The Show” which opened Feb. 14 at Westgate and in which Turner teams up with fellow all-around entertainer Clint Holmes.

Turner, 64, grew up in Missouri in a family in which a relative who sang or played an instrument never was far away. “Music has always been part of my life,” says Turner, whose step-grandfather, Speedy Huggins, was a well-known Kansas City dancer, singer and musician.

“I did see him perform once,” Turner says, and Huggins once even asked Turner to perform with his band, “playing guitar and doing some of the younger music.”

“Those guys were just unbelievable musicians,” Turner says. “They could just pick up what you were playing.”

Review-Journal: Was that experience with your step-grandfather the beginning of your desire to pursue a career as an entertainer?

Turner: I’ve always wanted to play music. I didn’t necessarily think about a career in it. I just knew I wanted to be involved in music, being onstage, playing my guitar and singing, and if I could make a living at it, that was great. But I never wanted to do anything else.

Were your parents OK with your pursuing such an iffy career?

The greatest thing about my parents, they always told me what I could do. They never told me what I couldn’t do. So they never, even if they didn’t agree and didn’t think music was going to be a viable career for me, they didn’t say, “No you can’t do that” or “It’s not going to work.”

So there wasn’t a particular performance or show or concert you saw that made you think, “I want to do that”?

I didn’t see my first concert until I was 11. I grew up in a small town, 3,000 people. (Performing in) New York never crossed my mind. The only thing that crossed my mind was what I heard on AM radio and what I saw on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Were your favorites those old-school performers who could do it all?

I had as my heroes people who had the ability to simply walk out in front of an audience and entertain them. … I also learned from the pros like Jackie Wilson, James Brown, Tom Jones — those guys who captivated an audience. It’s not just their voices, but their personality. I don’t even call it “old school.” I call it “classic,” because we don’t have classic entertainers anymore.

What was Las Vegas like when you arrived in 1989?

When I first performed (at the Dunes), I’d run across the street and watch Sonny Turner perform at the Aladdin. I could catch a set at the Sands and catch the Checkmates or the Treniers. That was the way things were. It was a community.

Any thought of slowing down or retiring?

I don’t think about retirement. What is that? That’s like quitting. Why would you retire unless you’re in a job you don’t really like? As long as I’m able to do what I do and am healthy enough to do this, I’m going to do it.

It sounds like you’re still having fun.

(Laughs) Oh, man, I am the most blessed person in the world. I never had to answer to anyone in order to make a living. Never. How blessed must you be to not have to punch somebody’s clock or have to go by somebody’s rules? I’m so happy doing what I’ve been doing, and being able to do that since I was 19. People tell me, “What would you do over?” Not a damn thing (laughing). I ain’t changing nothing.

■ Favorite performer?

My favorite all-around performer is Sammy Davis Jr. My favorite performer is James Brown.

■ Favorite indulgence?

Dessert. Bread pudding at Gordon Biersch.

■ Everyday ritual?

First thing in the morning, I drink a lot of water and I do an activity called Elevate. It’s for mind development, a brain development app.

■ Favorite vacation destination?

My favorite place to be is home, but away from home, it’ll be Hawaii. I love Hawaii.

■ Pets?

We have two cats. One thinks she’s a dog.

■ Favorite movie?

For years it’s been “Independence Day.” Whenever it comes on, if it happens to be on, I’ll watch it.

■ I never leave home without …

My phone. That’s easy.

■ Food I could eat every day?

Donuts. I don’t, but I could.

If you go

What: “Soundtrack: Your Songs. Our Stories. The Show”

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday

Where: The Westgate Las Vegas, 3000 Paradise Road

Tickets: $48, $58, $78 and $98 (702-732-5755 or westgatelasvegas.com)


Clint Holmes, Earl Turner open ‘Soundtrack’ at Westgate

Contact John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

CES final night showcases Drake at XS Nightclub
Drake performed for CES attendees and club-goers at XS Nightclub in Encore at Wynn Las Vegas in the early morning hours of Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. (John Katsilometes Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Happy Hour party at Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace
Conventioneers mingled during the Hardware Massive CES 2019 Happy Hour Bash at The Hangover Suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
CES 2019 Has A Cordless Hair Dryer
CES Has A Cordless Hair Dryer (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES Opening Party in Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace
CES conventioneers packed Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace, and let loose as they danced to DJs into the night. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails
Print intricate designs, your pet or your face on your nails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Panel talks Impossible Burger 2.0
Panel talks Impossible Burger at CES during launch at Border Grill on Monday, Jan. 7. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets
Momofuku Makes A Cocktail With Bok Choy And Beets (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Dream of AJ Montgomery
AJ Montgomery lost part of his leg in a vehicle accident but found his dream as a performer in “Le Reve.” (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kelly Clinton-Holmes of the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes chats with Kelly Clinton-Holmes, director of the Stirling Club's New Year's Eve entertainment.
Month-by-month entertainment coming in 2019
“True Detective” Season 3, HBO (Jan. 13) Travis Scott, T-Mobile Arena (Feb. 6) Robbie Williams, Encore Theatre at Wynn Las Vegas (March 6, 8, 9, 13, 15 and 16) “Game of Thrones” Season 8, HBO (April) Electric Daisy Carnival, Las Vegas Motor Speedway (May 17-19) “Fiddler on the Roof,” The Smith Center (June 4-9) “The Lion King” (July 19) Psycho Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay (Aug. 16-18) Life is Beautiful, downtown Las Vegas (Sept. 20-22) “Tim Burton @ the Neon Museum” (Oct. 15) “Frozen 2” (Nov. 22) “Star Wars: Episode IX” (Dec. 20)
Lacey Huszcza invites you to find something to love at the Las Vegas Philharmonic
Lacey Huszcza, executive director of the Las Vegas Philharmonic talks about the orchestra's wealth of programming. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gina Marinelli offers La Strega preview
Gina Marinelli used a pop-up New Year’s Eve dinner at Starboard Tack to preview items she’ll feature at her new Summerlin restaurant, La Strega. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Year’s Eve at Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf’s New Year’s Eve party was a sort of official unveiling of its newly renovated space. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas NYE Fireworks - VIDEO
The full show: A spectacular view from the rooftop of the Trump International Hotel as 80,000 pyrotechnics illuminated the Las Vegas Strip at the stroke of midnight. Fireworks by Grucci choreographed launches from the Stratosphere, the Venetian, Treasure Island, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, Aria and MGM Grand.
Debra Kelleher Of The Stirling Club
Debra Kelleher, DK Hospitality President talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the Stirling Club.
Richard Ditton Of The Stirling Club
Richard Ditton, an investment partner of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
NYE at the Stirling Club
John Katsilometes reports from the reopening of the Stirling Club on New Year's Eve 2018.
Michael Stapleton of the Stirling Club
Michael Stapleton, COO of the Stirling Club talks with Johnny Kats about the reopening of the club.
Recap the Countdown on Fremont Street — VIDEO
Nearly 40,000 people packed Fremont Street to enjoy America's Party Downtown. As the tradition stands, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman counted down the clock on the 3rd Street Stage, alongside her husband and former mayor, Oscar Goodman.
New Year's Eve live from the Las Vegas Strip Bellagio Fountains - Video
Reporter Aaron Drawhorn near the Bellagio Fountains as hundreds of thousands gather to celebrate New Year's Eve in Las Vegas
Ryan Reaves describes the flavors in Training Day beer
Ryan Reaves talks about the flavor of Training Day, the new beer from 7Five Brewing that was launched at the PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves describes his new beer
Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves talks about his new beer from 7Five Brewing at a launch party at PKWY Tavern on West Flamingo Road. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas' five biggest NYE concerts
Imagine Dragons at The Chelsea at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Lady Gaga at The Park Theater at Park MGM, Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at T-Mobile Arena, and Tenacious D at The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo
Celebrate New Years Day, Hangover Day and Bloody Mary Day at Cabo Wabo (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant
Michael Symon, chef and owner of Mabel's BBQ, talks about his first Las Vegas restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye @bizutesfaye
New American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
American Eagle flagship on the Las Vegas Strip lets you customize your clothing
Bellagio Conservatory display is Majestic Holiday Magic
Majestic Holiday Magic at the Bellagio Conservatory
Las Vegas Ready for 2019 NYE Fireworks Show
The city of Las Vegas is ready to celebrate "America's Party" with a new and improved fireworks show that will pay tribute to the Golden Knights.
Sugar Factory makes a shareable Christmas cocktail
If you’re looking to share holiday cheer, this goblet is big enough to split among at least a few friends. The bubbly punch is made with cherry vodka, cranberry juice and a scoop of Christmas tree gummy candies — just in case it’s not sufficiently sweet.
New Year's Eve fireworks are ready to fly in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and Fireworks by Grucci unveil details of “America’s Party 2019” New Year's Eve fireworks and entertainment extravaganza during a news conference at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like