RJ Griffith’s upcoming single “You Turn Me On” which will be released on Sunday, March 28th, 2021, will be a remake of Chicago singing group, The Fabulous Turks’, original song released in 1970. Griffith’s uncle, Thomas Williams, was a singer in the group, which inspired him to explore their music and remake one of their songs. Griffith chose “You Turn Me On” because of its classic sound and the romance you can hear in the lyrics.
If you Google “The Fabulous Turks” aka “The Turks” you will be hard-pressed to find any info on the talented Chicago singing group, and although they signed a five-year deal with Mercury Records (which paid the group a miniscule 1.5 cents per record sale) they flew mostly under the radar on the national music scene. “We weren’t dealing with the right people or producers,” Williams, who joined the group in 1965, said of The Fabulous Turks’ lack of national notoriety. The group, however, was loved in their hometown of Chicago working what they called the “Chitlin' Circuit,” playing at multiple clubs and local venues throughout the city in the 60s and 70s.
One of The Fabulous Turks’ most notable performances was at the first ever Black Expo started by Operation PUSH in Chicago in 1969. That day they opened for James Brown and Isaac Hayes, and the audience loved them so much they were invited back to play again the following year. During their 1970 performance the group introduced their new single “You Turn Me On” for the first time, and they could tell by the reaction by those in attendance that they had something special with this song.
The idea for “You Turn Me On” was created by the “smooth writing” Willie Weems in his Maywood, IL basement during a rehearsal. Weems created the song as a tribute to a woman he was falling for at the time. He knew he couldn’t sing so he wrote a song to express how he felt about her. “The first line, like the sunshine turns on the heat, expresses how the universe brings people together,” Weems said. Once released, “You Turn Me On” was very well received and gained some traction to the point that it was picked up by 35 radio stations around the country. This led to some increased popularity at the time, but never really brought the gifted group the recognition or longevity it deserved.
A few years later, The Turks parted ways and Griffith's Uncle Williams continued on with a brief solo career, finally retiring from music at age 37. The wide-eyed 13-year-old that fell in love with music watching bands at the club while he worked the coat check had a wonderful 18-year music career that brought him lots of joy and memories, but with that came little fanfare.
Griffith wants to change that by bringing this Fabulous Turks song back to life with his own creative style in hopes it can bring renewed attention to the group. “I can’t wait for the world to hear this song,” Griffith expressed excitedly. “I’m going to make sure, with every last breath in me, that the world gets to hear this song, not just the remake, but the original.” Griffith also went on to say that this is the most nervous he has ever been to release a track because it means so much to him. In response to that, and after listening to the song, Griffith’s Uncle Williams gave him his stamp of approval, “This song is so tough, you took something from 50 years ago and brought it up to today…that is so beautiful!”