Friday, December 14, 2007

Ike Turner Dies At 76

This past Wednesday, rock and roll pioneer Ike Turner died at the age of 76. Although no cause of death has been officially released, it was reported that he had been suffering from emphysema.

If you know one thing about Ike, chances are that it's his reputation as an abuser of both drugs and his long-time partner onstage and off... Tina Turner. The book and film "What's Love Got To Do With It" told Tina's story of the violence and humiliation she suffered at the hands of Ike. For years, Ike denied these claims. However, in his 1999 autobiography "Takin' Back My Name": The Confessions of Ike Turner", he admitted to slapping Tina... even punching her to the ground without thinking. Because there are two sides to every story, I am considering purchasing the book. Although it may not alter my opinion one way or the other, I am a bit interested in what he had to say.

Because of his scandalous personal life, the contributions that Ike made to music are sometimes overlooked. I'm not saying that we should sweep the violence, addictions, and infidelities under the rug. Ike was raked over the coals for years and rightfully so. However, he was a rock and roll pioneer/innovator and that is worth noting.

Many credit Ike with writing and recording a song that is often cited as the first rock and roll record, the 1951 classic "Rocket 88". The record is credited to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (Brenston being the lead singer). Although Brenston was the lead vocalist on the song, the name of the group was actually Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm. If you would like to hear the song, please visit Pjazzy's blog Traces of A Stream.

I think you also have to credit Ike with introducing the world to Tina Turner. It was he who gave the former Anna Mae Bullock her stage moniker (named after Sheena: Queen of the Jungle) and helped her develop her onstage persona. Some may debate that Tina could have AND would have made it without Ike's help. However, we'll never know the answer to that question.

Like I said, no one should forget the sordid history of Ike Turner's personal life. However, it shouldn't erase his place in rock and roll history either. If you would like to read more about him, you can visit his website at:

Below is a clip of Ike and Tina performing their 1975 single "Baby Get It On". This is one of the few instances where Ike sings a lead part.


pjazzypar said...

Ike Turner is a pioneer of the Rock and Roll era. I do not condone his treatment of Tina Turner over 30 years ago (by Tina's count), I just feel like that should not diminish his contribution to that moment in time.

I agree that there are in fact two sides to every story and while I do believe Tina's claims were valid, Ike was never really allowed to refute what she said publicly. No one was interested in producing a film about his book.

Ms. Turner refused to comment on her former husband’s death, simply stating that she had not talked to him in 30 years and that there would be no further comment. So it seems that even she has put that part of her life behind her and moved on. While we definitely should not dismiss his shortcomings, we should do as Tina has done.

Earlier this year Ike Turner took home Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for "Risin' With the Blues." Let's pay homage to his accomplishments, including giving Tina Turner to the world.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

He may have done some despicable things in his life, but there IS no denying the contributions the man made to music. The world is a better place for having had Ike in it, at least on a musical level.

But ... am I the only one who was surprised to hear he'd died? For some reason, I thought he'd died a long time ago.

Holly Smith said...

Last night, when I heard this on the news, I thought, "I bet Malcolm is going to have a post on this tomorrow..." Great job! My only knowledge of him was from the Angela Bassett film. (so you can imagine what I thought of him)

Candy Minx said...

I gotta tell you...I linked my boyfriends blog up with your site...and he spent about two hours on here the other night...he loves your posts but he's not always able to log in a nd leave a comment. I'll help him next time.

Here is his blog:

FRIGGA said...

I'm gonna have to 2nd Susan on this... He contributed a lot to music... And I didn't even know he was my neighbor until he died :-0

I came by to let you know that even though you were 2 min behind I still gave you a point - care to come back and try another?

Barbara (aka Layla) said...


I knew I would find a fair and balanced commentary on Ike Turner here on your blog. We can't condone violence or abuse...but can we ignore talent? Most of us have made some pretty huge mistakes in our life. I like the fact that he admitted his after years of denial. I saw him and Tina perform in 1979 (?) and it was an unforgettable show.

Damien said...

REM have a song called "Rotary 10" I wonder if it was influenced by "Rocket 88." That is one cool sounding title!

Anonymous said...

Got to agree with Barbara on her post. Nicely done.

However, you can always rely on the NY Post to be tacky as hell, and yet, funny.

Malcolm: said...

Pjazzy: I can't imagine any movie producer touching Ike's book. They either feel that the story has been told already or they are afraid of the backlash it might cause. As for Tina, I didn't expect her to make any statement because like you said, that was 30 years ago. So for anyone expecting a repeat of Cher's "performance" at Sonny's funeral... it ain't gonna happen.

Susan: Although I was surprised about Ike's death, it was for different reasons than yours. His death caught me off guard because he is one of those "rock and roll survivors" whose death I couldn't imagine... like Keith Richards.

Holly: Thanks! I was surprised at the ease with which I wrote this post. Sometimes a post will take hours, but this one practically wrote itself.

You were probably ready to go hunt down the real Ike after seeing Laurence Fishburne's performance in "What's Love Got To Do With It." I can't blame you.

Candy: I am glad to hear that your boyfriend enjoys my blog. I scanned his blog earlier, but was at work so I couldn't really dive into it. I'll take another look this weekend.

Frigga: Ike Turner was your neighbor! Did he live right next door to you or what?

Barbara: I was thinking of calling my blog "Fair and Balanced", but I didn't want the Faux News Channel breathing their hot air down my neck.

I think that the people who continue to focus solely on Ike's misdeeds need to realize that their idols probably made lots of mistakes also. They were just lucky enough not to have a tell-all book written about them.

I continue to be amazed at the number of concerts you have seen over the years.

Riley: I'm not familiar with Rotary 10 by REM. Now that I think of it, REM had a lot of songs with numbers in them (Driver 8, Pop Song 89, Star 69, etc.)

Amy: Thanks! I went to that link you included. Like you said, tacky... but funny. On WDFN this morning, a caller ended his call with a jokey comment about Ike. It went something like, "For his funeral, Ike won't be buried in a suit. He'll be dressed in a wife beater instead." That was a pretty good one.

mister anchovy said...

Hey there, I'm a first time visitor who stumbled over here from Candy Minx's blog. I can't comment on Mr. Turner's personal life. He may well have been the coke-crazed wife-beater he has the reputation for. I can say, though, that his contribution to R&B in the 50s is huge, just huge. The Kings of Rhythm were messing with distorted guitars and rock & roll riffs in the early 50s. It burns me up when I see references to white-bread bands in the mid-50s as being pioneers of a kind of music that Mr. Turner helped develop years earlier. By the time The Ike and Tina Review became a reality, Turner was already a giant in American music. I make no apologies for his behavior, though, and maybe he got just what he deserved, becoming the defacto poster boy for wife abuse.

mister anchovy said...

PS...great video...those dancers are way groovy.

X. Dell said...

I'm not sure that the relationship between Ike and Tina can be completely separated from their work, because they (literally) made lots of beautiful music together. One would have to think that their had to be some connection between their offstage life and their onstage life, despite the professional ability to smile through just about anything and put on a good show.

In all that makes the whole thing that more tragic, but a more detailed look into that relationship--from a more objective, or distant point of view--might yield something interesting about the nature of music-making, and the real dues that someone like Tina Turner might have paid to get her just rewards in the end.

Malcolm: said...

Mister Anchovy: Thank you so much for stopping by. Good call on the contributions of Ike. As for his reputation, I think it's unfair the way some focus only on the things he did in his personal life. I doubt it if those same people view artists with troubled personal lives such as Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis the same way.

I was so focused on Ike and Tina that I didn't notice the background dancers at first. Man, they were breakin' it down!

X. Dell: Given what we've heard about their lives together, I think about Ike and Tina Turner songs like "A Fool In Love", "You Shoulda Treated Me Right", and "Poor Fool" in a whole new way.

Remarketing tags may not be associated with personally identifiable information or placed on pages related to sensitive categories. See more information and instructions on how to setup the tag on: --------------------------------------------------->