12 December 2007

IKE TURNER, 1931-2007

So what if I was 16 and horny. So what if I was in the front row at the Shrine and looking up the very short skirts of the Ikettes, two of whom were not wearing underwear. Sure, Tina had that voice. And those legs. But for me, it was all about Ike.

There he was, in a white suit with a black t-shirt. He spent a lot of his time with his back turned to the crowd, hardly moving. But oh-my-fucking-god; the sounds that came out of that man's guitar. (Only Hendrix did more. He'd played in Ike's band once. But there were times when I liked Ike better.) And the control he had over the band. (As far as controlling a band went, the only one I ever saw who came close to Ike was Frank Zappa. He was in fair second place.)

Now he's dead at 76, and too many people don't know who he was, don't know what they missed, what they'll be missing. Ike Turner was, at the very least, the missing link between blues and rock and roll. In any sensible, realistic list of the creators of modern American music, he'd be a shoo-in for the pantheon.

Too many people know him from the movies. Sure What's Love Got To Do With It was a good bio-pic. But it didn't tell his story, certainly not the whole story, or even the important parts. There's even some controversy over how accurate it was. Some of that controversy has even been fed by Tina herself in interviews in the years since.

In the years after he broke up with Tina, Ike's life spun largely out of control. But he always kept working. Last year he won a Grammy for his album Risin' With the Blues. It's a very good record, one that will give you a taste of what he was capable of. But only a small taste.

Seeing him live was always the best. There are no albums that capture that. Certainly none of the ones with Tina.

The last time I saw Ike was at a small club in Los Feliz, here in Los Angeles. He mostly played keyboard. He was also an accomplished pianist. The band was totally in his control. The first half was magical. Then there was a break.

After the break it got sort of pathetic. He brought a Tina clone on stage. She had great cleavage. A very short skirt. An okay voice. But she wasn't Tina. And even worse, working with her to try and recapture some past glory days, Ike wasn't Ike.

And Ike, all by himself with his guitar and his band, man, that was always way more than enough. I'm gonna miss him.

Here's some assorted pictures that I like. I found them online.

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