Thursday, December 13, 2007
Remembering Ike Turner
From Entertainment Producer Denise Quan in Los Angeles:

We pulled up in front of a modest home in suburban San Diego. Newspaper in the driveway. No security gate.

"Are you sure this is the house?" asked my cameraman, Rick.

I checked my assignment sheet. "Yup. According to my notes, this is where Ike lives."

Ike Turner. In April, we'd gone to interview the rock and soul icon about Phil Spector, on the eve of the music producer's trial for murder. We ended up talking about Ike's legendary career, his time in jail on drug charges and his physical altercations with Tina Turner -- his ex-wife and former partner. "Yeah, I hit Tina," he admitted unapologetically. "But Tina hit me, too. It was a different time back then." He likened it to spanking children.

Ike Turner was a complicated man. Yes, he had his demons, but he was also a proud man who took care with his appearance and wasn't afraid of hard work. His shirt was perfectly pressed. His hair was a glossy flat-top -- jet black and meticulously coiffed. He sang us a song he'd just written about how peace could occur if we all just loved each other a little more. And despite reports of emphysema, he was planning to tour early next year.

Ike was 75 at the time we interviewed him, and he still had an eye for the ladies. They kept coming out while we were at his house. There was a woman -- presumably an assistant and/or housekeeper -- who answered the door. There was an attractive singer he introduced as his latest protege. Then there was a third woman who offered us something to drink.

Maybe it was because of his age, but you got the feeling he had come to terms with his life, and didn't have many regrets. Not even about the 17 months he spent in prison. He told us he loved being in jail -- that he had been treated well, and didn't have to worry about his bills or figuring out what to have for his next meal. Incarceration also helped him kick drugs, and for that, he was grateful.

The only subject that seemed to unnerve him was the state of his relationship with Tina. When asked how long it had been since he'd last spoken with her, he got up and said, "That's the end of the interview."

But Ike Turner wasn't one to hold a grudge. In true Ike fashion, he grabbed an 8 x 10 glossy, autographed it, then promptly asked me out to dinner.

-- Denise Quan
Ike got what he deserved. "those were different times?" what is that supposed to mean, I bet he would not be saying that if he was standing in her shoes. Any person that physically abuses another one, especially weaker one, does not deserver any respect. It is not what you create that should be important, it is who you are as a person and what you stand for that defines you.
While oogling at Tina & The Ikettes singing and dancing on one of their many television appearances in the 70's, my mother Adele gave me an important piece of advice: "If you really want to get into the music business, then don't look at Tina. Study Ike. He is the one that produces and writes those Ike & Tina records you listen to." Mother was right. I began listening to Ike's arrangements and production work. I collected tons of the various Ike & Tina singles and albums, the latter which I presented to Ike to autograph during my opportunity to co-interview him in the mid-90's on KFI/Los Angeles. Ike was so cool, so energetic that it was a shame he did not bring his guitar to perform on the air, which he most certainly would have done. Upon seeing my tons of his albums, Ike smiled and told me that many people had told him they had the best Ike & Tina collection, but I had the best he had ever seen. I got a chance to meet Ike a few times after the interview, slowly watching him come back into public view with much deserved acceptance for the true musical genius Ike was. How did Ike totally reconstruct then current hits by other artists, making them something altogether more powerful than the originals, from "I Want To Take You Higher," "Proud Mary," "Living For The City" and countless others. How did Ike hobnob with Sam Phillips at Sun Records, The Bihari Brothers of Modern-RPM-Kent Records, The Chess Brothers of Chess Records, getting these famous label heads to release his product. How did Ike discover, develop and produce so many legends---Tina, The Ikettes, The Kings of Rhythm, Howlin' Wolf, Jackie Breston, Fontella Bass, and others. This, in addition to Ike leading a powerhouse band, doing the bookings and, in essence, controlling both the product and the artistic presentation---a rare feat for just one person to do before the age of the internet, but then again, Ike made it look all so easy back in the day. Today we lost a true music legend. Thankfully, Ike Turner will always be forever with us as he left tons of music and video footage that future generations will even enjoy. Ike, to borrow your title of one of my favorite songs, you know "I Idolize You." My sincere condolences and love to the Ike Turner family---Mark Matlock/Andromeda International Records
"physical altercations" ??? HE BEAT HER. That is not what a "proud man" does. That is what a cowardly, horrible, small person does and certainly not the true definition of a man. I'm not advocating celebrating his death, but let it pass quietly for there is no reason to celebrate this person.
"Those were different times" doesn't excuse the actions of the past. However, it helps you to better understand those actions. Yes, Ike did a terrible thing, but throughout history, so many people have done so many different, terrible things. I don't condone Mr. Turner's actions in the slightest. But, you have to admit, his statement is true - "those were different times." Much the same as it used to be okay to spank a child - which will now land you in court and your child in the care of a state run organization.

The film "What's Love Got To Do With It" came out a month prior to me seeing my very first Tina Turner concert. Prior to that I didn't know much about this amazing woman. I watched the movie then witnessed the phenomenon that is Tina Turner in person.

The abuse she was subjected to, while most apalling, also helped to shape the woman she would become, as well as bring the world's attention to a very important issue - spousal abuse.

I don't much care for the man, but he did - through some act of fate - play a little part in the much bigger picture known as Tina Turner.
It is impossible to deal with people who view history with today's values and sensibilities as though today is the day we are getting it right. Nobody will look back on the actions of humanity in 2007 and say "boy were they bad people", or "were they ever wrong". The most ignorant argument possible is to discount the social, economic, political situation of a time when passing judgemnt from your mount. To be clear here, the only reason anyone cares or knows that Ike beat Tina was because we all saw some actor beat up Angela Bassett. So the great unwashed passes their judgement on Ike because of a Holywood movie. BRAVO, we stand in your shadow, tell me what else to believe.

Regardless of the moaners. Ike Turner was a fantastic dynamic perfomrer. Yes he beat up Tina Turner, but she beat him up too. I got to see him perform live in his 70's and it was a sight to behold. I am going to listen to "baby, get it on" for the rest of my life in tribute, plus it is just a plain good song, and Ike sings on it too! Thanks for hanging around Ike.
Yes, those were different times. I grew up in the 60's. Ike's refusal to talk about Tina, or what happened, other than to say "Yeah, I beat her" as if to say "SO? what's the big deal??" tells me Ike hadn't come to grips with what he did, or wanted to pretend it wasn't "as bad as everone makes it". But, Ike can't change the FACTS: he beat Tina horribly for the most minor things, he controlled EVERY aspect of their act, including dressing Tina like a whore on stage (look at some of the old clips - Tina is wearing some of the shortest dresses in existence - And this on a girl who grew up in a DEEPLY religious family in St. Louis, the middle of the bible belt. Imagine how hard it was to choose between her upbringing, and getting used as a punching bag AGAIN from someone who was SUPPOSED to love her). Yet, to both of their credits, they made some of the most electrifying, energy-charged music of a generation.
Ike Turner was a true rock 'n' roll pioneer.

In spite of the reports of his addictions, abuse and stupidity, his work - especially the work he did in the early 1950's - should be evaluated and considered with the same level of seriousness as the work of a Jesse Stone, Louis Jordan, or Jack Clement.
To "Anonymous" who claimed "Ike got what he deserved," and "It is not what you create that should be important, it is who you are as a person and what you stand for that defines you" -- well that's just a completely immature thing to say. Were we able to go back in time and subject numerous artistic geniuses to today's blogosphere level of scrutiny, and your standard was applied to all artists, you'd probably have to burn most of the paintings in the Guggenheim, most of the records in your CD collection, and most great directors' films -- because most of them were probably abused, drug-addled, and/or had fragile and combustible personalies, i.e. they were jerks. Actually, a small part of what Ike is alluding to is the fact that in the mid-century, people were tougher, and certainly where he came from, people put up with a lot worse than intense lovers' quarrels -- which come to think of it were also integral to most great American music. It's comlicated and not as easy as our current third grade level, perfect world moralizing can fathom at times. Ike Turner "stood for" making incredible music and touring his butt off in the face of the most racist times in American history. I am sure even Tina Turner would agree that he was incredibly talented, that he made her career, and that his/her music will live on much longer than the shifting and subjective morality of any era. Thomas Jefferson should be defined by political theories, not the fact he slept more than Hugh Hefner. Orson Welles should be defined by the fact he created great movies, not that he still owes a ton of people money. Babe Ruth is defined for all his great stats as a hitter, not the fact that he was a borish drunk. Etc. etc."Got what he deserved" -- aren't you a perfect little judge.
a. harris: "I don't much care for the man, but he did - through some act of fate - play a little part in the much bigger picture known as Tina Turner." True, what Ike did to Tina was horrible. But I must also state that he didn't just play a "little part in the much bigger picture known as Tina Turner" -- he is one of the 2 or 3 most important architects of rock'n'roll!!!
Ike was a wife beater. Enough said.
Ike was not perfect, but still a great performer and artist.
who cares not as if he was a saint? i would rather people remember others that recently passed such as, Floyd Red Crow Westerman.
Ike Turner, by all popular accounts, was an abusive philanderer and an unabashed egotist with a taste for drugs and excess. He was also an extremely talented showman, producer and promoter. He created Tina, who went on to become a heavyweight contender in the entertainment business, while Ike himself never got much past the B-list. Ike's sins were indefensible, but to say that he "got what he deserved" is just this side of ignorant. Watch somebody die of emphysema sometime, Anonymous. You might change your mind.
Eric said ''he is one of the two or three most important architects of rock n roll.'' Please. Ike Turner has been a footnote since Tina left him, and he's now a headstone with a footnote. He beat Tina mercilessly, she left him, and SHE became the legend. He became a has-been. If Ike is an architect, then what he built was tantamount to a strip club.
Chuck Berry and the Beatles and Elvis were architects of much bigger, prominent and memorable houses of music.
I just want to say one thing about my Father, Ike Turner, the Legend, The Icon...... For those of you that continue to dwell on unnecessary things like my fathers past, I have one thing to say. Look at yourself and see if you are perfect... No one is perfect we all have made mistakes in our lives.... But the Bottom line Ike Turner, paved the road for many artist in the entertainment arena and he Wrote the very First Rock n roll song. No one can take that away from him, now or never....
Let the past go and focus on the positive.... If my brother the product of Tina and Ike can move forward and let the negative go... The world should tooooooooo. Or should the world dwell on your past mistakes or errors that you made.....

My Father was a great man, he was inspirational to all that knew him... Even people that talked to him for just a few moments.... All say what a great man Ike Turner is.... He always left a good impression on people and He also was very giving and loving.... So unless you knew The Legend personally, you can not say Nothing negative about my Father.
I have to say I agreee with Mia Turner and applaud her for writing in response to these comments....I for one also think that withouth Ike Turner there would be no Tina Turner...we will never know what really went on in the Turner household, and those who speculate as usual are the foolish ones...sure we see bruises and hear wild stories about their famous relationship as played out in the movies, however who is to judge and say what actually took place....Im sure being a child of those two was hard enough with all of the poking media and papparazi at that time, also being a person of color which had its tumble...So I wish all the best to his children and may his legacy as a artist reign on for generations to come.....

Kraig Rasool
Fort Washington, Md
I don't know how great a man he was, I know very little about him, other than the abuse suffered by Tina Turner. However I think it's important to recognize his musical acheivements on their own merit.

He might be a terrible man to be married to, but he was a great musician. Anyone with a mind of their own and the capability of independent thought can understand that his craft is completely seperate from his personal life. You can respect his contribution to music without respecting who he was as a person if you don't agree with how he lived his life.

It's not my place to judge someone else's life, but I can't agree with abuse of any kind. I'll leave his judgement up to god and I wish everyone else would too.
Regardless of his musical legendary status, Mr.Turner was an unapologetic physically abusive man. The CNN memorandum to him lets us know this, and has him quoted as saying "those were different times." Indeed they were. Beating up black people was also acceptable at one time, however, that does not make it morally justifiable or acceptable. I work with batterd woman, and provide pro-bono services. Any woman in the Boston area who needs help should please feel free to contact me at There is a way to be safe, regardless of whether or not the abusive man is a musical legend, a cop, or a corporate executive.
Let us remember ALL the facets of Mr. Turner.

Everybody had/has their demons; people in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks. If you look back at all of the entertainers back then, they had a demon or two; and it was domestic violence in some shape, form or fashion.
We all jam to all of his old tunes when we hear let's be real real.

Nissa E
Long live Ike Turner, he was a true music pioneer, Tina owes her life to Ike, he should'nt hit her, but musically speaking he made her. He owes no apoligies for the past. How soon we, ypu forget without Ike Tina can't run around with that fake accent.
Let's remember that, while no one can claim to have invented rock 'n roll, Ike's song "Rocket 88" is recognized by many historians to be the first true rock 'n roll song.
I certainly do not condone Ike Turner's violent behavior in the past. However, I choose to look deeper into why he did what he did. Statistically, people who are violent typically come from a violent home. My guess is this is the case with Ike Turner. Too bad he did not reach out for help instead of hurting those who loved and tried to love him. So to those who say he got what he deserved, let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.
George Washington was a slave owner, but none of y'all want to take him off the nickel. Give Ike his props for what he did right in the same way you hate what he did wrong.
After reading all of the different views on Ike Turner and Tina Turner, I think we as people have a right to voice our opinions, but sometimes forget that some things are separate even in our own lives. No one person is perfect we all have done something that is unacceptable, but we all have done something good. Ike is a legend and always will be. Speaking of his talents, he was great and hard working. He also helped Tina become that legend as well. Now, his and her personal life is total separate. As an entertainer he was great, creative and an originator. But as a MAN he had issues. Physical abuse is never ok for anyone, weather family, friends or strangers. Not taking anything away from both, because we also have to remember that Tina is her own person and still had control of her life as well. So in all we have to learn to understand the difference and know some things don’t go hand in hand.
While I can agree that Ike's musical contributions should not be dismissed, I absolutely cannot dismiss the fact that he was a bully, a womanizer and an abuser. As a survivor of spousal abuse, I find it impossible to respect this man, or be saddened by his passing.

When you take away all the money, the fame, the awards and the talent, he was nothing but an overblown bully who was jealous of Tina's success and took it out on her with his fists. And there is nothing honorable or noteworthy about that.
People tend to remember what they want to about a person. Ike Turner was a talenter preformer, but he will be remembered for being an abusing husband to Tina Turner. Kurt Cobain is remembered and almost worshiped for his music, but people tend to forget that he was a drug addict that blew his head off and left behind a wife and small child.
Occasional musings and gab about the world of entertainment.
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