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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What's Life Got Do With It? Ike Turner Passes on at 76

Well, I never take kindly to anyone passing, even someone of dubious character but Ike Turner's death reminds me of what could have been. He, along with Anna Mae Bullock (Tina Turner to the ill informed) possessed uncanny musical abilities coupled with supreme showmanship that has been copied but never duplicated. His drug abuse, womanizing, skirmishes with the law (resulting in a penitentiary stay) and reportedly abusive relationship with Tina marred his musical legacy to a certain degree. One could even say that his life served as a template for today's gangsta rap artists who appear to have followed in his footsteps. The gangsta connection is real based on a recent Grammy acceptance speech in which Mr. Turner stated that a rap/blues album was imminent as he named dropped a few prominent rap stars that were scheduled to work with him. As a musician and talent scout, Ike was definitely one of the greats and perhaps that's the best way to pay one's respects-remember the music and what could have been. Here's more on Turner's death, courtesy of the New York Times:

Ike Turner, the R&B musician, songwriter, bandleader, producer, talent scout and ex-husband of Tina Turner, died on Wednesday at his home in San Marcos, Calif., a San Diego suburb. He was 76.

His death was announced by Jeanette Bazzell Turner, who married Mr. Turner in 1995. She gave no cause of death, but said he had had emphysema.

Mr. Turner was best known for discovering Anna Mae Bullock, a teenage singer from Nutbush, Tenn., whom he renamed Tina Turner. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue made 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 Mr. Turner’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.” But he maintained that the film had “overstated” it.

Mr. 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 under the name Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, is regularly cited as a contender for the first rock-’n’-roll record for its beat, its distorted guitar and its honking saxophone.

Ike and Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

Ike Turner, whose full name is variously given as Izear Luster Turner Jr. and Ike Wister Turner, was born in Clarksdale, Miss., and was brought up there by his mother after his father, a minister, was beaten to death by a white mob.

As a child Ike spent time at the local radio station, WROX, a hub for Delta blues performances. According to Mr. Turner’s autobiography, the D.J.s taught him how to cue up and segue records, sometimes leaving him alone on the air when he was 8 years old.

He grew up around Delta musicians like the bluesman Robert Nighthawk Jr. and the pianist Pinetop Perkins, who gave him boogie-woogie lessons, and he learned to play guitar.

For the Times article in its entirety, click on the link below:

Ike Turner, Musician and Songwriter in Duo With Tina Turner, Dies at 76

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