Ike Turner Dies in California at the Age of 76.

Tina Turner: I’ve Been Lovin’ You

Ike and Tina Turner: Proud Mary

Ike Turner has died at 76. His reputation as a musician was largely overshadowed by his history of domestic abuse towards his partner, Tina Turner. Scott Hanover, his spokesman , said yesterday that “Ike Turner passed away this morning. He was at his home.” He lived in San Marcos, just outside of San Diego, California.

The Mississippi-born bluesman spent years in jail in California on weapons charges and drug offences, and was incarcerated at the very time that he and Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He was released from in 1993 and began touring again, playing guitar and piano. Ike and Tina Turner had many hits in the 1960s and 70s, including River Deep, Mountain High, Proud Mary and I Want to Take You Higher.

While Ike Turner provided much of the inspiration and organisation for the duo and their backing group, the Ikettes, it was Tina Turner’s voice that brought them fame. He first met Tina Turner, then Anna Mae Bullock, an 18-year-old from Nutbush, Tennessee, in 1959. She allegedy grabbed a microphone during a session in St Louis and impressed him enough to be invited to join his backing group.

After they broke up in 1976, mainly as a result of his abuse, Tina Turner continued with an increasingly successful solo career while his declined. He revived it in later life, winning a Grammy this year for best traditional blues album, Risin’ with the Blues.

During the 1950’s, early in his career as a musician, Ike Turner had played with such great blues musicians as B. B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the 50s. He also worked as a talent scout, helping to sign up bluesmen such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Elmore James.

Tom Breihan has posted this eulogy today in The Village Voice:

“It’s a thorny thing, trying to eulogize Ike Turner.  On the one hand, he really was a titanically important musical figure, one who helped to create a sound and then managed to stay relevant for decades, mutating that sound to fit the times; not too many other 50s rock pioneers were making hits into the 70s.  A lot of his music still sounds good today, another thing I can’t say of all his contemporaries.  He had a famously furious live show, and he masterminded the career of one of the era’s most iconic vocalists.  He also beat the shit out of that vocalist, repeatedly, for years.  At this point, Ike Turner is way more famous for beating Tina Turner than for any of his musical accomplishments, which he probably should be.  Plenty of morally bankrupt types have involved themselves in pop music over the years, but I can’t think of any quite as notorious as Turner, who always seemed perversely proud of all the bad things he did.  Complicating things further, it’s hard to write about his music without at least touching on his personal life.  He made most of his best songs with the wife he beat and mercilessly controlled, and some deeply fucked up relationship dynamics are deeply entrenched in many of those songs.  He wasn’t a good person, but he made good music.”

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