Blues legend Ike Turner dies at 76

Ike Turner, half of one of the most explosive rock and soul acts ever, has died at 76. His reputation as a musician was largely overshadowed by his history of domestic abuse towards his partner, Tina Turner.

Scott Hanover, a spokesman for Thrill Entertainment, which managed his career, said yesterday: "Ike Turner passed away this morning. He was at his home." He lived in San Marcos, California, outside San Diego. Hanover did not give the cause of death.

The Mississippi-born bluesman spent years in jail in California on weapons charges and drug offences, and was inside when he and Tina were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He was released in 1993 and went back on the road, playing guitar and piano.

Ike and Tina Turner had many hits in the 1960s and 70s, including River Deep - Mountain High, Proud Mary and I Want to Take You Higher. While Ike Turner, who had been involved in music since doing odd jobs in a radio station at the age of eight, provided much of the inspiration and organisation for the duo and their backing group, the Ikettes, it was Tina Turner's voice that brought them fame.

After they broke up in 1976, mainly as a result of his abuse, Tina Turner continued with an increasingly successful solo career while his declined. He revived it in later life, winning a Grammy this year for best traditional blues album, Risin' with the Blues.

A collaboration between Turner and rock band the Black Keys, by Gorillaz producer Danger Mouse, is expected to be released next year.

The son of a preacher, Turner said he believed his name was Izear Luster Turner Jr until on applying for a passport he found it was Ike Wister Turner.

At the radio station he learned the basics of being a disc jockey and went on to become a roadie for blues singer Robert Nighthawk. In the late 1940s, he formed a group, the Kings of Rhythm, and in 1951 the band recorded what some regard as the first rock and roll record, Rocket 88, listed on the charts as by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats.

The song included an early example of guitar distortion, the result of an amplifier having been dropped before the recording.

Turner played with BB King, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the 50s. He also worked as a talent scout, helping to sign up bluesmen such as Sonny Boy Williamson and Elmore James.

He first met Tina Turner, then Anna Mae Bullock, an 18-year-old from Nutbush, Tennessee, in 1959. She reputedly grabbed a microphone during a session in St Louis and impressed him enough to be invited to join his backing group.

He was portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the film What's Love Got To Do With It, based on Tina Turner's autobiography.


Ewen MacAskill

The GuardianTramp

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