Ike Wister Turner came into this world on November 5, 1931. He was an American musician, bandleader, songwriter, arranger, talent scout, and record producer. In a career that lasted more than half a century, his repertoire included blues, soul, rock, and funk.
He is most popularly known for his 1960s work with his then wife Tina Turner in the Ike & Tina Turner revue. As a teenager in high school he led his own music group, the Kings of Rhythm. He employed the group as his backing band for the rest of his life.
His first recording, “Rocket 88” with the Kings of Rhythm credited as “Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats”, in 1951, is considered a possible contender for “first rock and roll song”. Relocating to St. Louis, Missouri in 1954, he built the Kings into one of the most renowned acts on the local club circuit. It was there he met singer Anna Mae Bullock, whom he married and renamed Tina Turner, forming the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, which over the course of the sixties became a soul/rock crossover success.
Throughout his career Turner won two Grammy Awards and was nominated for three others. Alongside his former wife, Turner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2001 was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Allegations by Tina Turner in her autobiography of her abusive relationship with Turner and the film adaptation of this coupled with his cocaine addiction damaged Turner’s career in the 1980s and 1990s. He claims to have spent more than $100,000 on coke in a two-month period in 1989 .
Addicted to cocaine and crack for at least 15 years, “I was on a 15-year party,” he says. “This hole in my nose was so bad that when I would go to sleep, it would be hurtin’ so much that I would be tryin’ to get my hand up behind my eyeballs… Pain. The first thing I’d want to do when I got up was get cocaine and put it in my nose. That would deaden the pain. ” Turner was convicted of drug offenses, serving seventeen months in prison between July 1989 and 1991. He spent the rest of the 1990s free of his addiction.
Near the end of his life, he returned to live performance as a front man and produced two albums returning to his blues roots, which were critically well received and award-winning. Turner has frequently been referred to as a ‘great innovator’ of Rock and Roll by contemporaries such as Little Richard and Johnny Otis. Phil Alexander (then editor-in-chief of Mojo magazine) described Turner as ‘the cornerstone of modern day rock ‘n’ roll’. He spent the 1990s free of his addiction, but relapsed in 2004. Ike Turner was found dead of an accidental cocaine over dead on December 12 2007 at his home in San Marcos in San Diego County.