Ike Turner (born Izear Luster Turner Jr.) (born November 5, 1931) is an American musician (piano, guitar), bandleader, talent scout and record producer, best known for his work with his former wife Tina Turner. He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 2001 was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Turner, an African American, was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His musical career began with his childhood piano teacher, Pinetop Perkins, who taught him the boogie-woogie that he later transformed into early rock and roll. Turner's 1951 recording of "Rocket 88" is considered one of the earliest examples of rock and roll with a driving back beat and topped with electric guitar and wailing saxophone. The album's guitar distortion had an odd story behind it. The amp he used to record was dropped in a parking lot before recording, he went inside to listen to the sound. He hated it, but the producer liked it. It was considered to be the first album in which guitar distortion was used. It was a sharp contrast from the relatively more jazzy and sophisticated jump blues or swing combo music that preceded it.
The record was released under the name of Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, but was actually performed by Ike Turner and His Kings of Rhythm. Through music-business intrigue, Brenston, Turner's saxophone player, ended up with artist and co-author credit on Turner's tune.
Musically, he was known for an aggressive, hard-hitting lead guitar style. He was known to put the whammy bar of his Fender Stratocaster to frequent use. In addition to his bandleading and performing, Turner was a talent scout and informal A & R man for independent record companies, including Sun Records, and played guitar or piano as side man for many pioneer blues performers, including Robert Nighthawk, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Elmore James, and Otis Rush.
Turner is also noted for introducing the classic soul music show to general audiences with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue, featuring a full band, Tina Turner, and the Ikettes, a female trio of frantic singers and dancers. The Revue opened for the Rolling Stones on their American tours in 1966 and 1969.
Ike was married to Tina Turner for 18 years, starting in 1960. In her autobiography I, Tina, later filmed as What's Love Got to Do with It?, she accused him of violent spousal abuse, which Ike repeatedly denied for many years. However, in his 2001 autobiography Ike admitted, "Sure, I've slapped Tina... There have been times when I punched her without thinking. But I never beat her." Turner's many problems off the stage are likely have been exacerbated by his drug addiction, resulting in his abusive behaviour and relationship with his wife and children. Ike's complete dominance over Tina's life eventually became too much for her, and after an unsuccessful suicide attempt, she walked out on him in 1975, with nothing more than thirty-six cents and a gas-station credit card. The two were divorced in 1978. Ike Turner was later convicted and served time in a California State Prison for drug-related charges, while Tina went on to have a successful solo career beginning in the early 1980s.
In 2001, Turner released the Grammy-nominated Here and Now, and appeared at the Montreaux Jazz Festival and North Sea Jazz Festival. In 2004 he was bestowed a "Heroes Award" by the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Recording Arts and Science (NARAS). Turner was featured in two installments of Martin Scorsese's "The Blues" films. In 2005, he appeared on Gorillaz' "Demon Days" release, also performing sold-out shows with the group. A documentary about Ike Turner's contributions to music is in production for 2006.
His autobiography, Taking Back My Name (ISBN 1-852-27850-1) was published in 2001.