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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ike Turner dies at 76

IKE TURNER, whose achievements as one of the founding fathers of rock'n'roll were overshadowed by his former wife Tina Turner's claims that he beat her for almost two decades, has died at the age of 76.
His death was announced on Wednesday by Jeanette Bazzell Turner, who married Turner in 1995. She gave no cause of death, but said he had had emphysema.
Turner was best known for discovering Anna Mae Bullock, a teenage singer from Nutbush, Tennessee, whom he renamed Tina Turner. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue recorded a string of hits in the 1960s before the Turners broke up in 1975.
Tina Turner described the relationship as abusive in her autobiography, I, Tina, which was adapted for the 1993 film What's Love Got to Do With It? and made Ike's name synonymous with domestic abuse.
"I got a temper," he admitted in 1999 in his autobiography, Takin' Back My Name: The Confessions of Ike Turner, co-written with Nigel Cawthorne. But he maintained that the film had "overstated" it.
Turner's career extended back to the 1950s, when he played with pioneering Mississippi Delta bluesmen and helped shape early rock'n'roll as well as soul and rhythm and blues. Rocket 88, a song his band released in 1951, is regularly cited as a contender for the first rock'n'roll record for its beat, its distorted guitar and its honking saxophone.
Turner, whose full name is variously given as Izear Luster Turner jnr and Ike Wister Turner, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and was brought up there by his mother after his father, a minister, was beaten to death by a white mob.
He grew up around Delta musicians such as the bluesman Robert Nighthawk jnr and the pianist Pinetop Perkins, who gave him boogie-woogie lessons, and he learned to play guitar.
In high school he formed a group called the Kings of Rhythm. B.B. King helped that band get a steady weekend gig and recommended them to Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in Memphis. They had been performing jukebox hits, but on the drive to Memphis, they decided to write something of their own. Their saxophonist, Jackie Brenston, suggested a song about the new Rocket 88 Oldsmobile. The piano-pounding intro and the first verse were by Turner, and the band collaborated on the rest; Brenston sang. It sold half a million copies. Turner was paid $US20 for the record.
In 1958, Anna Mae Bullock joined his band and quickly became its focal point as Tina Turner. The band was renamed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.
The Rolling Stones chose the Revue as their opening act on a 1969 tour, introducing them to many rock fans. In 1971, the Revue reached the pop Top 10 with their version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Proud Mary, with Ike's deep vocal counterpoint and Tina's memorable spoken-word interlude.
"We never do anything nice and easy," Tina Turner said. "We always do it nice and rough."
She walked out on him in 1975. He, already abusing cocaine and alcohol, spiralled further downward during the 1980s while she became a multimillion-selling star. In 1989, he went to prison for cocaine possession offences and was in jail when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
On his release from prison, Turner set out to reclaim his place in rock history. In the end, the music business embraced him: his 2006 album, Risin' With The Blues, won the Grammy as best traditional blues album.

New York Times

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