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Ike Turner 1931-2007

Country : Clarksdale, Mississippi
Profession : Musician
Date of birth : 1931-11-05
Date of death : 2007-12-12
Cause of Death : Overdose

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Ike Wister Turner (November 5, 1931 – December 12, 2007) was an American musician, bandleader, talent scout, and record producer. Considered to be one of the fathers of rock and roll, his first recording, "Rocket 88" by "Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats," in 1951, is considered by some to be the "first rock and roll song" ever. However, he is best known for his work with his ex-wife Tina Turner as one half of the Ike & Tina Turner revue. Spanning a career that lasted half a century, Ike's repertoire included blues, soul, rock, and funk. Alongside his former wife, he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2001 was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Turner won two Grammy Awards.


Early life and career

Turner was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi on November 5, 1931, to Beatrice Cushenberry, a seamstress and Izear Luster Turner, a Baptist minister. Ike was the younger of two siblings, he had an elder sister, Lee Ethel. Ike got his first taste of pleasing an audience at the age of eight working at the local Clarksdale radio station, WROX, located in the Alcazar Hotel in downtown Clarksdale. A man in charge of the station put Turner to work as he watched the record turntables. Turner was soon carrying amplifiers for blues singer Robert Nighthawk, who often played live on WROX. Ike was mesmerized by Nighthawk's playing, but nothing could equal the experience of hearing Pinetop Perkins on piano for the first time. Growing up, his idol Pinetop Perkins helped teach the young Ike to play boogie-woogie on the piano. Ike soon was enamored of other blues artists such as Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson (Rice Miller), Charley Booker, Elmore James, Muddy Waters and Little Walter

Many sources state Turner's real name to be "Izear Luster Turner, Jr." however, in his autobiography Takin' Back My Name, it is stated as "Ike Wister Turner." In the book, Turner explains about this confusion. His father, Izear Luster Turner, was a minister for the local church. Turner had thought he was named Izear Luster Turner, Jr. after his father, until he found out that his name was registered as Ike Wister Turner while applying for his first passport. He never got to discover the origin of his name, as by the time he discovered it, his parents were both dead.

Music career

Ike Turner's actual music career began in earnest in the late-1940s where he formed a group whom he christened The Kings of Rhythm. In 1951, the band recorded what some historians have debated as "the first rock and roll record" with "Rocket 88", credited to Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (this band did not actually exist). Brenston was both the band's saxophonist and the lead vocalist of the song, and on the original Chess release was listed as the song's writer. "Rocket 88" was produced at Sun Studio in Memphis by Sam Phillips. The record was one of the first examples of guitar distortion, which happened by accident when one of the amplifiers was dropped before the recording.

Ike and the Kings of Rhythm settled into local fame in St. Louis where the band locally recorded for a St. Louis label and even appeared on local television shows. Throughout this early period, Turner became a recording scout and A&R man for independent record companies including Sun Records - where "Rocket 88" was recorded, helping the likes of Howlin' Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Elmore James and Otis Rush get signed. He also became a sideman playing guitar for these blues acts and more. Musically, Turner was known for his hard-hitting guitar style. He was known to put the whammy bar of his Fender Stratocaster to frequent use.

Turner's music career changed drastically after meeting a teenage singer from Nutbush, Tennessee, named Anna Mae Bullock, who demandingly grabbed a microphone during a singing session at one of St. Louis' nightspots and sang a B. B. King song in her now-trademark throated raspy vocals. Bullock's performance impressed Ike so much he allowed Anna to join his band as a background singer. However within a year, Ike's plans for Bullock changed after Anna recorded what he originally stated was a demo for a song that was to be sung by a male vocalist. After hearing her vocals, he let it be released under an independent label and in the process changed the name of the singer from Anna Mae Bullock to Tina Turner - naming her after Sheena - and the name of the band to the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. It is believed that this singular act is what propelled the now "Tina Turner" into the spotlight, creating a music mogul that would last decades. "A Fool in Love" became a national hit in early 1960, reaching the top three in the R&B charts and becoming a top thirty pop hit in the process. From then until 1976, Ike and Tina Turner became one of the most explosive duos in rock & soul music. The creation of the revue also led to the soul revues of the 1960s. Inspired by Ray Charles, Turner created a trio of sexy background singers and dancers who were named The Ikettes who often had their moves choreographed by Tina and Ike. The Turners eventually scored several hit singles including Rose Marie McCoy's "It's Gonna Work Out Fine", the Phil Spector produced "River Deep - Mountain High", scorching covers of Sly & the Family Stone's "I Want To Take You Higher", Creedence Clear Water Revival's "Proud Mary", and the Tina Turner penned "Nutbush City Limits" over thirteen years.

The success the duo contributed eventually led to the creation of the Los Angeles-based Bolic Sounds studio, founded by Ike. However, after Tina abruptly left Ike after a violent altercation in 1976, Ike lost ground in the national music market. As a solo artist, he struggled to find success after Tina and after releasing two failed solo albums, had found himself facing drug and weapons charges, of which he was convicted in 1989. After the musical legend's arrest and prison term, Ike was released from prison in 1993. Ike was met at the prison gate by Jeanette Bazzell who later became his wife. With Jeanette's support, Ike enjoyed a long period of sobriety. Jeanette was instrumental in helping Ike rebuild his career. She replaced Tina as Ike's lead singer and eventually they toured the world playing many blues festivals. After the intense negative publicity generated against him as a wife abuser by Tina's movie, "What's Love Got to Do with It", Ike's acceptance in the USA as a legendary blues artist and composer was limited, though better in other countries. During this time he recorded two solo albums in his own studio, and he wrote his autobiography called Taking Back My Name. He also re-recorded "I'm Blue (The Gong Gong Song)" in a duet style with Billy Rogers. The remake received very strong reviews from Billboard Magazine, Larry Flick, Singles Reviews published January 14 1995.

Ike was back on the road and back into recording music, which continued until his death. In 2001, Ike released the Grammy-nominated Here & Now album. Three years later, he was awarded with an "Heroes Award" from the Memphis charter of NARAS. In 2005, he appeared on the Gorillaz' album, Demon Days, playing piano on the track, "Every Planet We Reach Is Dead". He played live with the band on the band's world tour to that particular song. In 2007, Ike won his first solo Grammy in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for the album, Risin' With the Blues which was Mixed at Future Sound Studios by Rene Van Verseveld. Before his death, a collaboration between Turner and the rock band, The Black Keys, by Gorillaz' producer Danger Mouse was expected in 2008.

Personal life

Turner was married at least five times. He sometimes claimed to have been married thirteen times. Being "married" may have been Ike's euphemistc way of describing his many relationships. He had a notorious wandering eye for the ladies. Turner's first known marriage was to Lorraine Taylor, who had two sons with Ike. The facts surrounding his second known marriage, to Tina Turner (Anna Mae Bullock) have been hotly debated, along with the accusations of abuse. In 1995, he married Jeanette Bazzell. Ike and Jeanette divorced in 2001 but remained friends. Ike still trusted Jeanette and relied on her. In 2006, he married and quickly annulled a marriage to long time Ikette Audrey Madison. Ike has six known biological children: sons, Ike Jr., Michael (Lorraine Taylor) and Ronald (Tina Turner) and daughter, Mia (Ann Thomas). Tina's son Craig (fathered by legendary saxophonist Raymond Hill) carries the Turner name. Ike also has two other daughters, Linda Trippeter, who is the eldest and daughter Twanna Turner Melby, who took him in after he was released from prison.

In the mid-1980s, Turner was convicted of drug-related charges and sentenced to several years in a California state prison. Turner was still in prison pleading parole when he and Tina were inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, which Phil Spector accepted on their behalf (Tina was working on an album at the time).

In 2001, Turner's long-awaited autobiography, Takin' Back My Name, was published. In Tina Turner's 1986 autobiography, I, Tina, later filmed as What's Love Got to Do with It? starring Laurence Fishburne as Ike and Angela Bassett as Tina, Tina accused Ike of violent spousal abuse, which Ike repeatedly denied for many years. However, in his 2001 autobiography Ike admitted, "Sure, I've slapped Tina... There have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I have never beat her."

Ike converted to Judaism in 1994. During his interview with NPR's Terry Gross on Fresh Air, Ike claimed that he and Tina Turner were never married, and that she took his name in order to discourage a former lover from returning to her. On October 17, 2007, in a telephone interview conducted by radio personality Howard Stern, Ike reiterated his claim that he and Tina Turner were never actually married.


Turner died on December 12, 2007 at 76 years of age at his home in San Marcos, California, near San Diego. He was found by his ex wife Ann Thomas. Little Richard was asked by the family to speak at the funeral. He preached a brief, powerful and sobering message. On January 16, 2008 it was reported by the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office that Turner died from a cocaine overdose. "The cause of death for Ike Turner is cocaine toxicity with other significant conditions, such as hypertensive cardiovascular disease and pulmonary emphysema," Supervising Medical Examiner Investigator Paul Parker told CNN.

Parody in popular culture

On the sketch comedy show In Living Color, Ike was depicted, as played by David Alan Grier, as a pathetic has-been who jumps to violence and makes no attempt to hide his drug habit or abuse of Tina. In one skit, he sang a parody of Tina's song "What's Love Got To Do With It", in which he (still wearing his '70s clothes) sings proudly of his abusive personality. The video also parodies Tina's video; whereas in her video Tina walks around stopping couples who are fighting, Ike walks around to couples and gives the men weapons. Additionally, he was also portrayed on Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update, portrayed by Tim Meadows in a pageboy wig. This incarnation of Ike is played as desperate, and would make verbally derisive remarks to Kevin Nealon; he would later try to win back Kevin's "love" with gifts and a cake, later shoving Kevin's face into the cake.

On the John Boy and Billy radio show, cast member Jeff Pillars plays "Ike Turner" in a segment called "Ax Ike." He offers advice on interpersonal relationships — most particularly he advises people that they should administer (or that they might receive) "breaking their foot off in the crack of yo' butt". Ike is known to have trouble with the pronunciation and definitions of big words. He always introduces his segment with, "YO! What's up?" and a rant at his friend Patrick, and ends with, "Peace out."


  • 1969: Ike Turner & the Kings of Rhythm: A Black Man's Soul
  • 1972: Ike Turner & the Family Vibes: Strange Fruit
  • 1994: I'm Blue (Gong Gong Song REMAKE (Ike Turner & Billy Rogers CD)
  • 2004: Here and Now
  • 2007: Rising with the Blues

Queen of the Damned (10-Feb-2002)
Romeo Must Die (20-Mar-2000)


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