Looking Back: Mr. Phil Turner
by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
If you go on the internet and look for Phil Turner or Turner Music Store in Independence, you can learn about Mr. Turner, the Turner family, and their store.
“Phil Turner opened his Turner Music Store in Independence, Missouri in the 1930s. It was to become a family owned and operated business until 1978 when it sold to the Prewitt family. The Turner name and the iconic neon sign stayed with the store even after it closed in the early 2000s.
Turner specialized in “live” music, selling only musical instruments and equipment—no records were sold in the store. Music lessons were offered and Mrs. Turner actually started the first William Chrisman High School band. Turner Music then initiated the first school band instrument rental program in Independence.
First located at 405 West Lexington on the square in Independence (the neon music note was installed in 1953), Turner Music opened their new store at 205 Lexington in 1969. The proud Turner family dubbed it “the most beautiful store in America.”
What the internet doesn’t tell you is that Mr. Turner was the band director at Grain Valley High School. He was not in the 1939-40 yearbook and the Historical Society does not have a yearbook from 1941 or 1942, so I cannot be sure when he began teaching in Grain Valley. He is in the yearbook from 1943 through 1949. A new band director is pictured in the 1950 book. While I was not yet born in 1943, I have been told that Mr. Turner only came to Grain Valley a few hours each day and in the beginning, I don’t believe he came every day. I do believe he started the band program in Grain Valley.
The following information was written in the 1943 Treasure Chest (yearbook).
“Our school band, under the direction of Mr. Turner, got off to a good start this year. We played for most all home games of both football and basketball, and have always been ready to furnish patriotic or military band music for Bond Rallies and Red Cross Drives, etc. We were proud of the fact that the band sponsored, and Mr. Turner produced the Bond Rally Show here at the school and sold over $10,000 in bonds and stamps.”
“It’s a definite fact that any band is much more popular with uniforms, and that has been one of our projects of the year—to have uniforms. The first annual band show was a big success and got the ball rolling, and with the cooperation of Mr. Fullerton (principal), our uniforms are now being made. Late in the year, we discovered several very talented girls who have organized a Majorette Corps to perform in front of our band.”
The bass drum in the band photo I found in the 1947 Treasure Chest tells of the success of the Grain Valley High School Band in the early years.
On a personal note, I can tell you that the band was not this large in 1964, when I graduated from GVHS. And we still had the same 20-year-old uniforms! I’m happy to say our current band has returned the glory to Grain Valley.
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