Velvert Turner Group

Band members                              Related acts

  line up 1

- Tim McGovern -- drums, percussion 

- Prescott Niles -- bass 

- Christopher Robison -- keyboards

- Velvert Turner (RIP 2000) -- lead vocals, lead guitar  


  supporting musicians:

- Bob Hogans -- keyboards

- Bob Lennox -- keyboards 




- The Burning Sensations (Tim McGivern)

- Elephant's Memory (Chris Robinson)

- Kapt Kopter (Tim McGivern)

- The Knack (Prescott Niles)

- Knucklehead (Tim McGovern)

- The Motels (Tim McGovern)

- The Pop (Tim McGovern)

- New York Dolls (Chris Robinson)

- Chris Robison (solo efforts)

- Stumblebunny (Chris Robison)




Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Velvert Turner Group

Company: Philips

Catalog: FPS 2704

Year: 1972

Country/State: Brooklyn, New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: soul version; matrix number 16741

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5997

Price: $100.00

Cost: $66.00


So after years of obscurity, in death Velvert (not Velvet - note the 'r' in his name) Turner starts to achieve a measure of fame and recognition ... Same old story about life as an artist - nobody gives you the time of day when you're alive.  The minute you pass, suddenly everyone wants a piece of your memory. It doesn't make a great deal of sense to me ....  It really is kind of funny in a sad fashion ...


When I stumbled on to Velvert Turner's album about five years ago there literally wasn't anything on the web about Turner. What little there was tended to be inaccurate, or simply outright wrong. There's now quite a bit more material, but the same cautions are true - much of that information is wrong.  


Anyhow, having found a cheap copy of Turner's album, I figured I'd give another spin and update my original comments.


The late Velvert Turner was definitely an interesting guy.  For what it's worth, here's a copy of Turner's obituary in the New York Times: 


"A noted musician and former understudy of Jimi Hendrix, passed away on the morning of December 11, 2000, at his home in Brooklyn, New York. Velvert was born October 12, 1951, and is survived by his mother, Helen Harris. Mr. Turner was an accomplished guitarist who crossed paths with Jimi Hendrix as a young teenager growing up in New York City in 1966. He was befriended by Hendrix, who recognized the young scholar's passion for the electric guitar. The legendary guitarist served as a mentor to Mr. Turner, offering both guitar instruction and professional advice to the young musician. Following Hendrix's death in September, 1970, Mr. Turner pursued his own musical career, forming the Velvert Turner Group with Prescott Niles and Tim McGovern. He continued to tour and record for almost two decades. In recent years, Mr. Turner was employed by Samaritan Village in Brooklyn, New York. His efforts on behalf of those struggling with substance abuse made a significant difference in the lives of countless people."


So today Turner's best known for three things. 1.) His 'relationship' with Jimi Hendrix - depending who you listen to they were close friends, Hendrix having taught a school aged Turner how to play guitar in the mid-1960s, 2.) His Hendrix-inspired guitar tutorials (which you can still find on-line), and 3.) The fact his sole album was re-issued by Morris Levy's infamous Tiger Lily tax scam label. 



The first of these characteristics is controversial. Turner's friends and co-workers, including Velvert Turner Band band mates Prescott Niles and Chris Robison insist that Turner and Hendrix were close friends.  Not that it sheds much light into the relationship, but Turner was himself interviewed for 'The Making of Electric Ladyland' though he only shows up briefly and his recollections don't seem to jive with what other people have to say.  At the other end of the spectrum there are Hendrix loyalists who have a somewhat different view of the relationship. I don't have a horse in the race so my advice would be to read what Turner band mates Niles and Robison have to say on the subject. 


As for his second claim to fame - I don't play guitar, but my older son does and he's told me Turner's tutorial isn't bad, though he only handles the narrative; a guy by the name of Andy Aledolt actually played the guitar. 


Luckily, I own 1972's "The Velvert Turner Band' LP and I'm more than willing to talk about it. Those of you who know something about this outfit will undoubtedly want to know where this is the psych guitar version, or the soul version of the album - it's the psych guitar mix.  Self-produced, the album is one of the best Hendrix influenced LPs I've heard. Mind you, there's precious little here that's particularly original, but judging by tracks such as 'Madonna (Of the Seven Moons)', 'Talking About My Baby' and 'Three O'Clock Train' Turner must have been a fairly gifted student. He clearly had Hendrix's vocal mannerisms nailed and he has some of Hendrix's guitar moves down pat (just check out the ballad '(Love Rides ...) The Slow Swirling Seas' or his cover of Hendrix's 'Freedom'). The backing from drummer Time McGovern, bassist Prescott Niles, keyboardist Christopher Robison, and a handful of guests was consistently tight and enthusiastic. McGovern, Niles and Robison also kicked in a couple of songs with tracks such as 'Country Chicken', 'Strangely Neww' (sic) and 'Scarlet Warrior' adding a nice touch of musical diversity to the mix. Normally I'm not that thrilled by Hendrix-wannabes (Frank Marino, Robin Trower, etc.), but this one is simply goofy enough to make the cut. Even the clunky numbers were worth hearing - check out the children's chorus on 'Scarlet Warrior'. It somehow managed to salvage Turner's out of tune lead vocals ... beats me how it worked. 


"Velvert Turner Group" track listing:

(side 1) 

1.) Madonna (Of the Seven Moons)   (Velvert Turner) - 3:35    rating: **** stars

'Madonna (Of the Seven Moons)' was a perfect example of the album's strengths and weaknesses.  The track simply dripped with Hendrix influences including Turner's vocals, the wah-wah guitar that kicked in at the end of the track, the song's overall structure, the hippy-dippy subject matter, etc.   An up-tempo rocker with some likeable give and take vocals, this happened to be one of the album's stronger performances.

2.) Talking About My Baby   (Velvert Turner) - 4:00    rating: ** stars

'Talking About My Baby' was a mid-tempo number that sounded like second tier Hendrix.  To my ears the highlights were the start-and-stop chorus and Niles' rumbling bass line.

3.) Country Chicken   (Christopher Robison) - 2:56 .   rating: *** stars 

Penned and presumably sung by Robison, 'Country Chicken' sported a country-rock flavored feel.  Normally that wouldn't have done a great deal for me, but it a decent melody (love the backing harmony vocals) and it made for a nice change of pace.    

4.) Strangely Neww   (Prescott Niles - Christopher Robison) - 6:05    rating: ** stars

Kicked along by some Robison barrelhouse piano, 'Strangely Neww' was a strange effort, if only due to the fact the group chose to sing the song employing an extremely high and uncomfortable falsetto.  Turner's fuzz guitar and Niles hyperactive bass kicked in at the end of the song, but it was too little, too late.  

5.) Scarlet Warrior   (Prescott Niles - Tim McGovern) - 3:32    rating: ** stars

Up to this point Turner's vocals had been quite good, but on the martial 'Scarlet Warrior' you were left to wonder whether he'd be able to make it through the song.  Whatever range and flexibility he'd displayed on the earlier performances was completely absent here, replaced by an irritating children's chorus and a frog-like croak.  Hideous.  


(side 2) 

1.) Three O'Clock Train   (Velvert Turner) - 5:05 .   rating: *** stars 

'Three O'Clock Train' started side two with another Hendrix-styled rocker.  Like 'Madonna (Of the Seven Moons)' this one was sheet imitation without any attempt to modify r improve on the source material.  That said, it wasn't half bad when you remember imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  Needless piece of trivia, but this one was erroneously attributed to Hendrix on numerous bootlegs.   

2.) Just Look and See   (Prescott Niles - Velvert Turner) - 4:15    rating: ** stars

'Just Look and See' had a bluesy-base, but suffered from a Broadway-esque feel; this may sound stupid but it actually sounded like it was lifted from the Sharks and Jets fight scene in West Side Story ...  

3.) 'Xcuse Me, Gentlemen (The Fall of Atlantis)   (Velvert Turner) - 4:32    rating: **** stars

Perhaps my second favorite performance, ''Xcuse Me, Gentlemen (The Fall of Atlantis' had a vocal that bore an uncanny resemblance to Hendrix, and an amazing Niles bass pattern.   Great song.  

4.) (Love Rides ...) The Slow Swirling Seas   (Velvert Turner) - 3:50    rating: ** stars

'(Love Rides ...) The Slow Swirling Seas' was a pretty painful listening experience.   The song actually sounded like a bluesy demo piece that had never really been finished, rather had female backing singers and various studio effects slapped on top of it.   

5.) Freedom   (Jimi Hendrix) - 6:17    rating: *** stars 

Maybe because it was the lone Hendrix original. 'Freedom' gets my nod for the standout performance.  Again, the song bares an uncanny resemblance to Hendrix himself which may be off-putting to some folks



Back to the earlier tidbit about the two versions of the album - the only way you can tell the difference is to look at the matrix numbers. Matrix #16741 is the rock version, sporting an overdubbed second guitar. Matrix #16951 is the soul version and lacks the overdubbed guitar. Both versions are supposedly worth owning. 


An for anyone interested, here's a link to a site offering the Hendrix guitar tutorial that Turner and Andy Aledolt put together - The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Learn to Play the Songs From Are You Experienced":


Prescott reappeared as a founding member of The Knack. 


Keyboardist Robinson has a small website that talks a bit about Velvert Turner:





Genre: psych

Rating: **** (4 stars)

Title:  The Velvert Turner Group

Company: Philips

Catalog: 6369 154

Year: 1972

Country/State: New York

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: German pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 4492

Price: $100.00


In the interest of full disclosure, this is a German pressing issued on Philips. Those of you who know something about this outfit will undoubtedly want to know where this is the psych guitar version, or the soul version of the album - it's the psych guitar mix.


"Velvert Turner Group" track listing:

(side 1) 

1.) Madonna (Of the Seven Moons)   (Velvert Turner) - 3:35 

2.) Talking About My Baby   (Velvert Turner) - 4:00 

3.) Country Chicken   (Christopher Robison) - 2:56 

4.) Strangely Neww   (Prescott Niles - Christopher Robison) - 6:05 

5.) Scarlet Warrior   (Prescott Niles - Tim McGovern) - 3:32 


(side 2) 

1.) Three O'Clock Train   (Velvert Turner) - 5:05 

2.) Just Look and See   (Prescott Niles - Velvert Turner) - 4:15 

3.) 'Xcuse Me, Gentlemen (The Fall of Atlantis)   (Velvert Turner) - 4:32 

4.) (Love Rides ...) The Slow Swirling Seas   (Velvert Turner) - 3:50 

5.) Freedom   (Jimi Hendrix) - 6:17