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The Tophatters played big-band arrangements from sheet music.
Turner, who was trained by ear and could not sight read music, would learn the pieces by listening to a version on record at home, pretending to be reading the music during rehearsals.
At one point, the Tophatters had over 30 members, and eventually split into two, with one act who wanted to carry on playing dance-band jazz calling themselves The Dukes of Swing and the other, led by Turner becoming the Kings of Rhythm.
Said Turner: " We wanted to play blues, boogie-woogie and Roy Brown, Jimmy Liggins, Roy Milton.
" Turner would keep the name of the band throughout his career, although it went through considerable lineup changes over time.
Their early stage performances consisted largely of covers of popular jukebox hits.
They were helped by B.
B.
King, who helped them to get a steady weekend gig and recommended them to Sam Phillips at Sun Studio.
In the 50s, Turner's group got regular airplay from live sessions on WROX-Am, and KFFA radio in Helena, Arkansas.

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