JESSE LEE TURNER’s career is surprisingly undocumented for someone who had a Top 20 hit. He was born in Bowling, Texas, and was a cousin of Nashville session musician and RCA artist Floyd Robinson. He hired on as Jerry Lee Lewis’s driver in 1957, and was driving for Jerry Lee on the day of the Homecoming in Ferriday, Louisiana.
Jerry Lee was late, so Jesse Lee and Jerry’s sister, Frankie Jean, sang some duets. Put Me Down was probably Jesse Lee’s first recording, although it’s possible that his Fraternity record was made first. It was written by Jerry Lee’s guitarist, Roland Janes, and was recorded by Jerry for his first album.
Jesse Lee probably quit Jerry’s retinue after the debacle in England, and recorded The Little Space Girl with Kenny Rogers’ brother, Lelan, in Houston. Carlton Records picked it up in late 1958, and it was a Top 20 hit early the following year. From that point, Turner recorded for a plethora of labels (Top Rank-Jaro, Sudden, Foxie, Imperial, and GNP-Crescendo; he even cut a duet with cousin Floyd for MCA).
At some point, he doubled as a cropduster pilot and actor (southern drive-in patrons saw him in Smokey & The Good Time Outlaw), but beyond that we know little.