Mixonline joins the music industry at large in mourning the death of Ike Turner, whose career as a bandleader, arranger, recording artist and composer predates the rock ’n’ roll music he helped to invent.
Turner was born Izaear Luster Turner Jr. in 1931 in Clarksdale, Miss. Inspired by boogie-woogie and jump-blues, his first music business job was as a radio DJ. His first band, the famed Kings of Rhythm, recorded at Sam Phillips’ Memphis Recording Service, where Jackie Brenston, backed by Turner and his bandmates, recorded Turner’s song “Rocket 88,” which is widely regarded as the first rock ’n’ roll single. Turner and his band went on to back sessions with blues artists including Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James and Otis Rush.
In the mid-‘50s, Turner began his musical, and infamous, relationship with Anna Mae Bullock, who would change her name to Tina Turner after marrying Turner in ‘58. In time, the Turners’ troubled relationship became more famous than their hits. However, tracks such as “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine,” “Proud Mary,” and “I’m Gonna Take You Higher” still testify to Turner’s genius at fusing blues, soul and rock ’n’ roll.
After the Turners’ divorced, Ike Turner continued to run the studio he had opened in L.A., release solo recordings and tour. In 2000, Turner was a guest at the Mix Foundation’s TEC Awards ceremony, where he presented the Hall of Fame Award to his old friend and colleague, Sam Phillips. In 2006, Turner won a W.C. Handy Comeback of the Year Award and the Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album for his Risin’ With the Blues release.
For more about Ike Turner’s music and career, or to send condolences to Turner’s family, visit www.iketurner.com.