Years before he met Tina, Ike Turner was a big noise on the Memphis R&B scene. As a bandleader, session musician and talent scout, he was involved in recording BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, Johnny Ace and Junior Parker for Sam Phillips‘ Memphis Recording Service, which later became Sun Records, and for the Bihari Brothers‘ Modern Records. A self-taught pianist and guitarist, Ike played on his cousin Jackie Brenston‘s record ‘Rocket 88’, considered by many to be the first Rock’n’Roll record. He led The Kings of Rhythm in many recordings for Sam Phillips, who leased the tapes to Chess. When the band relocated to St.Louis, Ike hired and then married Annie Mae Bullock, and soon the act morphed into The Ike and Tina Turner Revue, complete with foxy Ikettes. From 1960 until 1975 they had 25 R&B hits and crossed over into the mainstream as one of the biggest acts in the world. They won a Grammy for Best R&B Performance in 1971 for ‘Proud Mary’, but as the 70s moved on, Ike’s drug problems led to domestic violence and divorce.
Ike could play a mean Blues guitar solo;
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When Tina went solo, Ike continued to work as a producer, but his reputation was damaged by Tina’s revelations of abuse and his addiction to cocaine and crack. Ike served jail-time for drugs offences but when he was freed, he got straightened out and went back on the road with a re-formed Rhythm Kings, with whom he cut the album ‘Here and Now’. He recorded and performed with British band Gorillaz, and his 2006 album ‘Risin’ With the Blues’ won him another Grammy. Ike died at his home near San Diego in 2007, from heart and lung diseases complicated by cocaine use.