Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ike Turner 1931-2007

KWUR favorite Ike Turner died yesterday from unannounced causes, although the musician was reported to have emphysema. Turner has been a fixture in the Rock and Roll, Blues and Soul genres for over 50 years. Turner and his "Kings of Rhythm" are credited for recording the first ever rock and roll song (though this designation is highly disputed). The song, Rocket 88, was released by Sun Studios of Memphis in 1951, under the name Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Turner's extensive discography includes rock and roll, R&B, blues, soul and funk, and somehow he manages to be prolific in all of these genres.

He is most famous for his work with his ex-wife, Tina (Turner claims he has been married 14 times, although only four are officially documented). The two released numerous recording together over their 16 year relationship. Turner's solo work, however, is nothing to scoff at. For an excellent example check out 1969s "A Black Man's Soul." Released while still together with Tina, the album is one of the first albums ever that you could call "funk," though released before the genre was even considered as such .

Though Turner could be considered a musical chameleon, one thing has remained constant throughout his long career: a turbulent personal life. Turner started abusing drugs heavily in the early sixties and it is not clear if he ever stopped. He spent 4 years in jail in the mid sixties after being caught with large amounts of cocaine. His marriage to Tina is remembered in the popular consciousness more for his purported domestic abuse than for their musical collaborations. Often demonized by the press, Turner's musical career was seriously hurt by his abuse of Tina and his output of new albums slowed significantly after their 1976 divorce.

Most recently, Turner won a Grammy for his 2001 album "Here and Now" and has been working on various collaborations. He played keyboard for the Gorillaz album "Demon Days" and even toured with the group. Prior to his death he was working on a collaboration with The Black Keys, which was supposed to be released next year.

Ike Turner, one of the most underrated musicians and songwriters of our generation will be sorely missed.

Keep on rockin' it on the other side, Ike!!

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