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Ike Turner, 1931 - 2007

Rock pioneer was known for abusing wife Tina Turner

December 13, 2007|Geoff Boucher | Times Staff Writer

The song, a rollicking ode to the Oldsmobile 88, drew on jump blues and swing combos, and surged to No. 1 on the R&B chart. "We were all surprised that it sold that much," Phillips said years later, "but it got the ear of the white and the black youngsters."

"Rocket 88" was originally credited to an act that never really existed, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (Brenston, the baritone sax player on the song, did the vocals). Brenston got his name on the charts and a free Oldsmobile from the thrilled carmakers.

It was the first of several perceived slights or missed career opportunities that stirred resentment in Turner. In 1991, for instance, he missed his induction into the Hall of Fame because he was sitting in a cell; later, when his award was shipped to him, it arrived broken.

The tandem of Ike and Tina began in St. Louis. Ike Turner, by then a respected session player, bandleader and talent scout, had relocated there in 1956, and a leggy teenager named Anna Mae Bullock caught his eye. Turner and the woman who soon changed her name to Tina first recorded in the studio together in 1960; by that summer they had their first hit, "A Fool In Love," which they followed up with "I Idolize You" and "It's Gonna Work Out Fine."

Their signature song would be a fiery interpretation of "Proud Mary," the swampy Creedence Clearwater Revival hit with Tina's memorable, husky spoken-word declaration that "We never, ever do nothin' nice and easy."

By several accounts, they were married in 1962, although other dates have been cited. In 1976, they split after an especially vicious fight that Tina Turner described in her memoir as the lone time she seriously fought back against her husband.

In one interview, he said the loss of Tina in his life sent him into a dark spiral.

"I took everything God gave me for granted: Tina, my family, my career. When me and Tina broke up, man, I panicked. I got so insecure. I thought the public would reject me without her. I knew I was in real bad shape, but I couldn't stop."

Ike Turner said on repeated occasions that he was married 13 times, Tina being his second wife.

He is survived by at least four children: sons Ike Jr., Michael and Ronald, and daughter Mia. (Tina Turner is Ronald's mother.)

In 2001, in an interview with Robert Hilburn, then pop music critic of The Times, Ike Turner pointed to numerous photos of Tina among the career souvenirs that lined the walls of his den.

"She was part of my life," he said softly. "No matter what happened, we were a team."

Perhaps, but on Wednesday a representative of Tina Turner delivered a terse comment regarding the death of the singer's ex-husband.

"Tina is aware that Ike passed away earlier today," publicist Michele Schweitzer said. "She has not had any contact with him in 35 years. No further comment will be made."

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