Wednesday, December 12, 2007

RIP Ike Turner and Thank You.

Ike Turner, rock'n'roll pioneer, r&b legend, and volatile husband to Tina Turner, passed away at his San Marcos, California home today, according to TMZ. Aged 76, he reportedly died in his sleep.

Born Izear Luster Turner, Jr. in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Turner first found fame as leader of the Kings of Rhythm, whose 1951 single "Rocket 88"-- billed to Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats-- is regarded by some as the first true rock'n'roll recording.

Turner's place in popular music history wasn't cemented, however, until he met a young, fiery vocalist by the name of Anna Mae Bullock in 1956. Bullock would eventually take the name Tina Turner, and the pair would enter a relationship, both musical and romantic, as notoriously tumultuous privately as it was electrifying live on stage and on record. Throughout the 1960s and early 70s, Ike and Tina remained at the forefront of rock'n'roll culture, touring with the Rolling Stones, recording with Phil Spector, and churning out hits like "Proud Mary" and "River Deep - Mountain High".

Turner's reputation was, of course, mottled at best. He has been painted as an abusive and domineering husband to Tina, who left him in the mid-1970s. Turner also landed in prison in the early 1990s after various drug charges, and was in fact incarcerated when Ike & Tina Turner were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

Yet Turner had, by most accounts, cleaned up his act in subsequent years. He also regained some of his footing musically, winning a Best Traditional Blues Grammy this year for Risin' With the Blues. He was also apparently working with the Black Keys and Danger Mouse on a forthcoming album.

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