Ike Turner Dead at 76

By Greg Rock 2007-12-12 19:51:49

Unfortunately, Ike Turner, who died this Wednesday at age 76 in his San Diego home, will initially be remembered as the wife-beating cokehead portrayed by Lawrence Fishburne in the Tina Turner biopic "What's Love Got to Do With It." There is no immediate word on cause of death. While there is hardly an excuse for laying a hand on Tina Turner, Ike's reputation as one of the fathers of Rock n' Roll will no doubt grow rosier in his passing. His song "Rocket 88" cut in 1951 by Ike Turner and The Kings of Rhythm is widely considered to be the first rock and roll record ever. To help put things in perspective, Elvis Presley's "That's Alright Mama" and "Bill Haley's Rock Around The Clock" were released three years later. "Rocket 88" is also considered one of the first examples of guitar distortion, which occurred when amplifiers were routinely dropped. So at least some hard rock fans owe a debt here and should say a prayer for Ike.

Born on November 5, 1931 in Clarksdale, Missisippi, Turner is best known for collaborations with his musical discovery and eventual wife Tina Turner. Over thirteen years, they released such hits as "River Deep, Mountain High," "I Want to Take You Higher," and "Proud Mary." After Tina left the group, Turner wallowed in cocaine addiction, mediocre solo albums, and a few years in jail. Ike had a comeback of sorts with a 2001 Grammy-nominated solo album Here & Now, and in 2007 won the award for Best Traditional Blues Album with Risin' With The Blues. He played piano on the Gorillaz' track "Every Planet We Reach is Dead" on their Demon Days record, and collaborated with the rock group The Black Keys and Danger Mouse on an album due out next year. Perhaps this means the hipsters will claim him for their nefarious purposes, or already have. So when you hear the name Ike Turner, don't only think wife-beater, but rather, sometimes wife-beater and musical innovater.

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