I'm Ed Turner, the new music and blog guy at The Augusta Chronicle. For more than 20 years, I wrote Music by Turner for another paper. That's a long time to stay in one place these days, and it was time for a fresh start. I'm grateful that it's with The Chronicle, the paper I grew up reading.
I've read The Chronicle (and, years ago, its afternoon sibling, the Herald) most every day for 50 of my 56 years. As a kid, I was a major fan of the legendary John Barnes' Our Town column, especially his clever, biting comments under the name "Broadus Street."
My first column is a good time to admit something that I have never revealed (and no, it's not that): I have always felt cursed with most aspects of my name.
I had been in first grade just a few months when Mister Ed, the television series about a horse that "talked," debuted. That was quite traumatic until I learned how to imitate Ed's folksy, down-home accent: "Wilbur!" It remains one of my proudest achievements.
Other bad luck name and initial associations continued to plague me. The movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial convinced some friends that I was an extraterrestrial. Those yearly family vacations to Area 51 didn't help dispel those rumors.
A few years later, "EBT" ( my middle initial is "B") became another name for "welfare." Even the medical community got in the spirit (oops, better stop using that word) by declaring that men with problems "down there" were suffering from E.D. Gee whiz!
My life has always revolved around music, sports and business. In 1955, my mom and dad opened a piano store on Walton Way. My little sister, Lisa, and I still operate Turner's Keyboards.
I was host for a Sunday night radio show, The Mad Music Asylum, a labor of love that was a staple of Augusta's airwaves for 28 years. I was fortunate to be allowed to play exactly what I wished, including requests from listeners.
I left radio in 2003, and my midlife crisis didn't involve a car or another facelift-type procedure, but a rock band.
Two Mad Music Asylum listeners called and asked whether I would like to join their Pink Floyd band. I was 51 and had never been in a real band.
At the end of one of our rehearsals, I started playing The Beatles' Hello Goodbye on the piano and was shocked that all of the other guys not only knew the music but also were major Beatles' fans, too. That was the beginning of Ed Turner and Number 9.
In 2005, we started playing each Beatles album consecutively, beginning with Rubber Soul.
Number 9 sold out shows at the Imperial Theatre in 2008 and 2009 for the White Album and Abbey Road. Last year, we were honored by the Imperial for being the first artists in the theater 's 90-plus years to sell out five consecutive shows. They presented us with a piece of the original Imperial stage, which rests proudly on my mantel next to my Ernest T. Bass autographed brick.
Number 9 and the Columbia County Exchange Club have raised more than $135,000 for child abuse prevention charities. We also raise money at our spring shows for the CSRA Humane Society, the no-kill animal shelter behind Lake Olmstead Stadium. As the band and I like to say, "We like kids and pets, it's just most grown-ups that we have problems with." Our next "Beatles Night" shows are March 5, 6, 12 and 13 at Fort Discovery. Tickets are at Number9theband.com.
My column will run every other week. I'll also have a blog concerning all things Augusta, from sports to local history and politics. I promise to offer a fresh perspective on our town, just as John Barnes' Chronicle columns did so many years ago.
Again, it is an immense privilege to write for the South's Oldest Newspaper. I hope you will enjoy reading my stuff as much as I will writing it.
Coming next week: Cher Best of WKSP-FM offers her take on Augusta in her column, Cher in the City.
Contact Ed Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.