Izear Luster Turner, Jr., November 5, 1931, Clarksdale, MS; d. December 12, 2007, San Marcos, CA
Rock and Roll, Soul, R&B, Jump Blues, Blues
Contributions to music:
- Composer and pianist of what is said to be the world's first true "rock and roll" song, 1951's "Rocket 88"
- An accomplished boogie-woogie pianist and blues guitarist who was one of the Fifties' most sought-after musicians and bandleaders
- Discovered Tina Turner, leading to R&B's most famous duo and rock's most infamous marriage
- The Ike and Tina Turner Revue became the epitome of gutbucket soul music in the late Sixties
- Enjoyed a career renaissance in his later years as a Delta-inspired blues musician
Ike, as he loved to point out, got started early in life, learning piano at the age of five, studying under Delta blues legend Pinetop Perkins, and jamming with fellow Clarksdale bluesmen Sonny Boy Williamson (II) and Robert Nighthawk. By the age of 14 he was DJing at local radio station KROX, and by 18 he'd formed his own jump blues band, The Kings Of Rhythm. In 1951, they scored with "Rocket 88," considered by many historians today to be the first "rock and roll" record, cut with Sam Phillips in Memphis (before the formation of the Sun label) and credited for legal reasons to singer Jackie Brenston.
The Kings never found another hit to match that one, but Ike kept busy, teaching himself guitar, recording under various pseudonyms, backing every bluesman that wanted him, working A&R for Modern Records (where he claimed to have discovered B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf, among many others) and as a bandleader in East St. Louis, his new home. But in 1956, fate stepped in: while playing a gig, a teenager from Nutbush, TN, one Anna Mae Bullock, took over the mic. Ike was so impressed he hired her for the act; eventually rechristened Ike and Tina Turner, the duo scored a string of legendary R&B hits in the early '60s.
By the late Sixties, the duo had mutated into the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, a raw soul showstopper re-discovered by the hippie crowd and cranking out wild, revamped versions of rock standards like CCR's "Proud Mary." But their personal relationship, marred by Ike's increasingly violent behavior, was too much of s strain, and Tina bolted in the middle of a 1976 tour with next to nothing to her name. Tina of course went on to enjoy a stunning Eighties comeback; after a stint in jail for drugs, Ike reinvented himself as a straight bluesman, winning much critical acclaim. Ike died of emphysema on December 12, 2007.
- Has claimed his real name as Ike Wister Turner, but this has never been verified
- Often claimed in interviews that he first had sex at the age of six
- "Rocket 88" uses a damaged amp, and is therefore cited as one of the first songs to feature guitar distortion
- Tina was originally merely Ike's houseguest after becoming pregnant by the group's saxophone player
- Ike's "I'm Blue" was sampled by rap duo Salt-N-Pepa for their 1993 hit "Shoop"
- Claimed to have been married 14 times, though only four marriages are verified
- Was serving a prison term In California when inducted into the Rock Hall of Fame in 1991; Tina accepted for him
- Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1991)
- GRAMMY Award (2006)
- GRAMMY Hall of Fame (1999, 2003)
- St. Louis Walk of Fame (2001)
Top 10 hits
- "Rocket 88" (1951) as Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats
with Tina Turner:
- "Proud Mary" (1971)
with Tina Turner:
Other popular recordings:
- "A Fool in Love" (1960)
- "It's Gonna Work Out Fine" (1961)
- "I Idolize You" (1961)
- "Tra La La La La" (1962)
- "Poor Fool" (1962)
- "Proud Mary" (1971)
"My Real Gone Rocket," "Tuckered Out," "Fat Meat Is Greasy," "I'm Lonesome Baby," "I Miss You So," "Peg Leg Woman," "(I Know) You Don't Love Me," "Box Top," "Matchbox," "Down and Out," "Ho Ho," "Prancin'," "New Breed, Pt. 2," "Takin' Back My Name," "I'm On Your Trail," "Hey-Hey," "Get It Over Baby," "Dead Letter Blues," "Hey Little Girl," "The Snuggle," "No Teasing Around," "Love Is a Gamble," "You Can't Be The One For Me," "Ugly Woman," "Bourbon Street Jump," "How Long Will It Last," "Way Down In The Congo ," "Why Should I Keep Trying," "You're Still My Baby," "I'm Jealous," "You Should'a Treated Me Right," "Goodbye, So Long," "Honky Tonk Women," "I Want to Take You Higher," "Workin' Together," "Funkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter," "I'm Yours (Use Me Anyway You Wanna)," "Up in Heah," "River Deep, Mountain High," "Nutbush City Limits," "Sweet Rhode Island Red," "Sexy Ida, Pts. 1 and 2," "Baby - Get It On," "Freedom Sound," "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)," "Getting Nasty"
B.B. King, "Three O' Clock Blues"
James Cotton, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buster Poindexter, Rufus Thomas, Muddy Waters, Bob Seger, Deep Purple, The Saints, Sam Brown, Cold Chisel, Harry Nilsson, The Easybeats, Boss Hog, Annie Lennox
Appears in the movies:
"The Big T.N.T. Show" (1966), "It's Your Thing" (1970), "Gimme Shelter" (1970), "Taking Off" (1971), "Soul To Soul" (1971), "Can't U Hear Me Singin'" (1997), "Boys Klub" (2001), "Diamonds From The Bantus" (2002)