Children Of The future band photo
Steve Miller and Lonnie Turner
Photo: L-R Steve Miller and Lonnie Turner Outdoor stadium circa 1978-79
Lonnie Turner
Photo: Lonnie Turner circa 1967-68
Lonnie Turner
Photo: Lonnie Turner circa 1968
Photo: Steve Miller Band Children Of The Future - Capitol 2920. Released June 1968. L-R top row. Tim Davis and Lonnie Turner. Bottom Row. Jim Peterman, Steve Miller and Boz Skaggs.
Steve Miller Band founding member Lonnie Turner dead at age 66.

For immediate release: Steve Miller Band founding member Lonnie Turner died Sunday, April 28, at Avamere Care Center in Lebanon, Oregon from lung cancer and complications from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. He was 66 years old.

“Lonnie and I started out together in 1966 in Berkeley,” said Miller. “We became best pals the first time we played together. He was in the band from the beginning and played a major roll in recording the first four albums as well as the later Fly Like an Eagle and Book of dreams albums. He was a sweet man who loved playing music and he was very creative. ‘Jungle Love’ was a good example of Lonnie’s skill at writing lyrics.”

Turner first left the band in December 1969 during sessions for the group’s fourth album, “Your Saving Grace,” and returned in September 1975 to record basic tracks that would comprise both the album “Fly Like an Eagle” and most of the subsequent “Book of Dreams.” Turner continued to tour with the band through 1979.

Known to friends as “L.T.,” Leonard Lewis Turner was born in Berkeley, California in 1947 and dropped out of Stanford University to join the Miller band. He taught himself bass to play with Miller, said his ex-wife Gayle Ashford.

“He could play blues,” said Miller. “He had a real good finger-picking style.”

Miller and Turner held the first rehearsals for what would become the Steve Miller Band in an vacant school basement on the University of California campus during Thanksgiving break in 1966.

Through most of his career, he played a prototype model of a Fender Music Man bass that he bought at a NAMM Show after his other instrument had been stolen just before the Miller band backed Chuck Berry for a live album recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium in 1967.

In addition to Miller, Turner played with Dave Mason, Eddie Money, Tommy Tutone and others. By the early ‘80s, Turner had left touring and was working as sound engineer for the Hopland Brewery in Mendocino County. He moved to Portland, Oregon in 1991, where he kept low-key involvement in the local music scene including work with songwriter Chris Morrisette.

Turner is survived by his two children, John, 26, and Natalie, 23, and a grandson, Leo (named after him), who will be a year old in November. His son John plays the Music Man bass in his Grants Pass, Oregon rock band, The Herbal Crew.

Steve Miller Band 1976
Photo: by Watt Casey. In Texas 1976. L-R David Denny, Notron Buffalo, Byron Allred, Lonnie Turner. Steve behind Norton.
Steve Miller Band circa 1976
Photo: Watt Casey in Texas 1976. L-R Norton Buffalo, Steve Miller and Lonnie Turner.
Steve Miller Band 1976
Photo: Watt Casey in Texas 1976 L-R Lonnie Turner, Steve Miller, Byron Allred, Richard Horine(Steve's truck driver), Norton Buffalo in hat, David Denny in hat.
Top | Photos: Courtesy of Steve Miller ©2013 and Watt Casey