“Ike Turner died today.”
“About time. Fucker.”
My wife’s response is probably typical for most people who were introduced to Ike Turner through What’s Love Got to Do With It. Fair enough. Ike was a hard motherfucker to defend.
But that doesn’t keep us from trying.
“Well,” I said sheepishly, “he did pretty much invent rock and roll…”
“Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, released in 1951, may or may not be the first rock and roll record. It doesn’t really matter if is or it isn’t. What matters is that it’s a great, great song that was written and performed by Ike Turner and his Kings of Rhythm.
Even if Turner had never met Tina, we would still be writing about him today. His session work with Sam Phillips at Sun Studio would have guaranteed his place in history. But he did meet Tina, and they made a ton of great music together.
And he beat the shit the out of her. Repeatedly. And cheated on her. And was generally abusive in a lot of creepy ways. And he blew all his money and much of his talent on blow.
Ike Turner was not a very nice guy.
But he made great records. And for that, he will be missed. I never would have recommended anybody going out on a date with Ike Turner, but I’ll recommend his music unreservedly.
MP3s: See what’s on the Hype Machine…
For a little contemporary perspective, check out this 1971 Rolling Stone profile of Ike & Tina written by Ben Fong-Torres: The World’s Greatest Heartbreaker. There’s also a Jon Landau review of Workin’ Together from the same year.