THE BLOG
12/13/2007 11:48 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ike Turner: 1931-2007

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"Well, if you believe movies, man, then
you'll believe anything."

--Ike Turner

Ike Turner href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7141489.stm">has
just died at the age of 76. The much maligned,
deservedly acclaimed, much argued father of rock and
roll; the Tina Turner discovering and abusing,
sometimes drug addicted, frequently incarcerated
damaged Daddy-O who, for his music alone, I absolutely
revere, has left the building.

When did I fall for Ike? Many times in my live
music movie watching -- particularly those impossibly
hot Ike and Tina (and the Ikette's) Musikladen
performances, the almost shockingly erotic moment of
Gimme Shelter and, with special awe-inspiring
potency, their concert in Ghana, immortalized in the
music documentary Soul to Soul. It's
1971 and these two, along with Ike's band and the
slinky Ikettes, are in their prime. Beyonce?
Sure, she's all self styled booty-licious...but compared
to Tina and The Ikettes? She's melting vanilla ice
cream. Dear God, when Tina and Ikette's bust out Ike's
version (not Phil Spector's --which I also like) of
"River Deep Mountain High" in which the climax
explodes into the women kicking their healthy legs,
maracas shaking over-head, all wigged hair,
mini-dresses and legs...it's pure sex on stage.

In a once deleted scene Ike, clad in a spiffy,
belted white suit accompanies Tina, styling her sexy
see-through tops, as she plaintively sings Otis
Redding's "I've been Loving You Too Long" first
soulfully then, when Ike joins in, with a raunchy glee
(or as Tina says in "Proud Mary" "Nice and
rough") that's just so
crazy/sexy/fucked-up amazing, I get all tingly inside.
Dirtier than the Maysles' Gimme Shelter
moment (wherein Tina's stroking that mike like...we're
all adults here), this is just, well, not something
you'd see on Shindig or even on MTV where so-called sexy performances are so canned and planned and
usually awful. In Soul to Soul, Ike sleazes
out his sexed up comments and punctuates moments with
"shit!" and slurping cunnilingus sounds before the
buildup of Tina belting out "Sock it to Me" as only
Ms. Turner can. Oh God! It just makes you want to
force today's young, tedious pop tarts into an
isolation cell and make them watch what
really gorgeous, gifted, down-and-dirty
people do. Make them behold Ike Turner in all his
black power, brown turtleneck, medallion wearing glory
(Ike looked sublime in the early '70s) and yes,
frighten them with all that raw power.

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Which leads me to this: Why must people, who
say they like old Ike and Tina Turner (and
I'm not talking real music lovers and writers who know
better) continually bring up Ike as the
beater
? Of course it's wrong that he hit Tina. Of
course the Ike and Tina story has become rightfully
iconic -- the woman, this genius singer, leaves the
SOB and not only survives but knocks the guy out of
the stadium (though as much as I love her,
Tina's music post-Ike is a bit flavorless). And of
course Ike has been arrested something like ten times.
But did that define Ike Turner as a musician?
This is the brilliant talent who pretty much invented
rock and roll with the song "Rocket 88" in 1951. And
hey, Tarantino, 5,6,7,8's fans, this is the guy who
wrote the blissfully catchy "I'm Blue." This is the
guy who produced and choreographed and played guitar
and piano with yes, obsessive power control
freakishness but made his band and singers frequently
all the better for it.

And I'm sorry (or not), the dark side to Ike makes
the combination of Ike and Tina even more powerful --
dysfunction is a potent brew -- why would so much art,
music, cinema and literature heavily notate this fact?
You think George Jones and Tammy Wynette didn't throw
beer bottles at each other? And the late, great Tammy
Wynette is as significant as our beloved Tina. And are
people frightened of Chuck Berry? The guy who
secretly videotaped women using the toilet? Don't get
me wrong, I love Chuck Berry but...that's a
whole-helluva-lot-more bizarre than anything Ike may
have done.

But who knows. There's a mystery and rawness to Ike
that hung on him like the dust of a criminal out on
parole. People ponder all sorts of scenarios when
watching Ike. They even hated him. Take the
talented Salon columnist Cintra Wilson's href="http://www.salon.com/weekly/cintra960909.html">review
of an Ike Turner show from 1999 in which she goes
one step further by erroneously calling Ike a
"purported musician." "Purported musician?" Calling
Ike Turner a purported musician is like calling Henry
Ford a purported car maker. Ike Turner was a pioneer,
a legend and there's no questioning of his
chops, right to the very end, no matter how many
vicious beatings occurred in his lifetime.

One of my most memorable moments was meeting Ike
Turner several years back when he performed at one of
those terrible Waterfront Blues Festivals. Lots of
white people with fanny packs and bottled water
boogying to Curtis Salgado or someone of the like
while shoving their faces with yakisoba. But the
eating stopped when Ike took the stage -- partially
because people were leaving (I witnessed some
disgusted, Birkenstock sporting ladies ushering their
husbands or, partners away as if they were
about to witness The Burning Bed II) and
partially because people and/or fans were fascinated.
And who could blame them? Ike was sporting
that trashy blonde singer and no, no, no...it was not
the same as Ike and Tina circa '71 Soul to
Soul
. The spectacle was a bit sad. But Ike? Ike
still had it.

After the show I found myself standing amidst a
group of record collectors (all male) when Ike came
out to do a signing. When one of your idols is that
close, you can't help but edge closer -- I wasn't
intending on saying anything, I just wanted to look at
him. But a small coterie of men yelling "Ike!" shoved
me back further. Understanding their rude behavior, it
was Ike, Ike Turner who gallantly, but rather
aggressively, reached his hand out, grabbed my arm and
pulled me to the front. I'll never forget the look of
amusement the then 70-year-old gave me as he said smiling:
"Get over here, girl!" Oozing decades of musical legend
and a substantive amount of charm and wickedness I was
speechless. What the hell can I say to Ike Turner? I
worship your LP "Blues Roots?" But after handing me a
signed glossy and a CD free of charge, he paid me a
compliment and offered some revealing and
sincere words of jail-house advice directed
at me and a male friend: "Stay straight," Ike warned
us. And we listened.

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Rest in peace Ike. Too bad and perhaps, too
perfectly things didn't always, as Tina sang,
"work out fine."

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Read more href="http://sunsetgun.typepad.com/sunsetgun/">Kim
Morgan at Sunset Gun
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