Ike Turner and Tina Turner in Happier Days.

SAN DIEGO -Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock’s critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in suburban San Diego. He was 76.Turner managed to rehabilitate his image somewhat in later years, touring around the globe with his band the Kings of Rhythm and drawing critical acclaim for his work. He won a Grammy in 2007 in the traditional blues album category for “Risin’ With the Blues.”

But his image is forever identified as the drug-addicted, wife-abusing husband of Tina Turner. He was hauntingly portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” based on Tina Turner’s autobiography.

In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, Turner denied his ex-wife’s claims of abuse and expressed frustration that he had been demonized in the media while his historic role in rock’s beginnings had been ignored.

“You can go ask Snoop Dogg or Eminem, you can ask the Rolling Stones or (Eric) Clapton, or you can ask anybody — anybody, they all know my contribution to music, but it hasn’t been in print about what I’ve done or what I’ve contributed until now,” he said.

Turner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, is credited by many rock historians with making the first rock ‘n’ roll record, “Rocket 88,” in 1951. Produced by the legendary Sam Phillips, it was groundbreaking for its use of distorted electric guitar.

But as would be the case for most of his career, Turner, a prolific session guitarist and piano player, was not the star on the record — it was recorded with Turner’s band but credited to singer Jackie Brenston.

And it would be another singer — a young woman named Anna Mae Bullock — who would bring Turner his greatest fame, and infamy.

Turner met the 18-year-old Bullock, whom he would later marry, in 1959 and quickly made the husky-voiced woman the lead singer of his group, refashioning her into the sexy Tina Turner. Her stage persona was highlighted by short skirts and stiletto heels that made her legs her most visible asset. But despite the glamorous image, she still sang with the grit and fervor of a rock singer with a twist of soul.

The pair would have two sons. They also produced a string of hits. The first, “A Fool In Love,” was a top R&B song in 1959, and others followed, including “I Idolize You” and “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.”

But over the years their genre-defying sound would make them favorites on the rock ‘n’ roll scene, as they opened for acts like the Rolling Stones.

Their densely layered hit “River Deep, Mountain High” was one of producer Phil Spector’s proudest creations. A rousing version of “Proud Mary,” a cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit, became their signature song and won them a Grammy for best R&B vocal performance by a group.

Still, their hits were often sporadic, and while their public life depicted a powerful, dynamic duo, Tina Turner would later charge that her husband was an overbearing wife abuser and cocaine addict.

In her 1987 autobiography, “I, Tina,” she narrated a harrowing tale of abuse, including suffering a broken nose. She said that cycle ended after a vicious fight between the pair in the back seat of a car in Las Vegas, where they were scheduled to perform.

It was the only time she ever fought back against her husband, Turner said.

After the two broke up, both fell into obscurity and endured money woes for years before Tina Turner made a dramatic comeback in 1982 with the release of the album “Private Dancer,” a multiplatinum success with hits such as “Let’s Stay Together” and “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”

The movie based on her life, “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” was also a hit, earning Angela Basset an Oscar nomination.

But Fishburne’s glowering depiction of Ike Turner also furthered Turner’s reputation as a rock villain.

Meanwhile, Turner never again had the success he enjoyed with his former wife.

After years of drug abuse, he was jailed in 1989 and served 17 months.

Turner told the AP he originally began using drugs to stay awake and handle the rigors of nonstop touring during his glory years.

“My experience, man, with drugs — I can’t say that I’m proud that I did drugs, but I’m glad I’m still alive to convey how I came through,” he said. “I’m a good example that you can go to the bottom. … I used to pray, `God, if you let me get three days clean, I will never look back.’ But I never did get to three days. You know why? Because I would lie to myself. And then only when I went to jail, man, did I get those three days. And man, I haven’t looked back since then.”

But while he would readily admit to drug abuse, Turner always denied abusing his ex-wife.

After years out of the spotlight his career finally began to revive in 2001 when he released the album “Here and Now.” The recording won rave reviews and a Grammy nomination and finally helped shift some of the public’s attention away from his troubled past and onto his musical legacy.

“His last chapter in life shouldn’t be drug abuse and the problems he had with Tina,” said Rob Johnson, the producer of “Here and Now.”

Turner spent his later years making more music and touring, even while he battled emphysema.

Robbie Montgomery — one of the “Ikettes,” backup singers who worked with Ike and Tina — said Turner’s death was “devastating” to her.

“He gave me my start. He gave a million people their start,” Montgomery said.

Accolades for Turner’s early and later work continued to come in as he grew older, and the once-broke musician managed to garner a comfortable income as his songs were sampled by a variety of rap acts.

In interviews toward the end of his life, Turner would acknowledge having made many mistakes, but maintained he was still able to carry himself with pride.

“I know what I am in my heart. And I know regardless of what I’ve done, good and bad, it took it all to make me what I am today,” he once said.R.I.P Ike!



  1. 1 jamal June 3, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I’m so glad that bitch dead for beatings Tina I know she glad he dead but she still might care cuz I dnt

  2. 2 caran June 10, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    i respect ike. he made a way people to eat in them days, that was crazy. i respect his grind. i dont prespect tha drugs, an the beatin on his wife. rest in peace. cause he needed peace.

  3. 3 Akia June 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    i have ikes juts he nevere need t beat his wife that was crazy

  4. 4 laquana July 31, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    i think that she had a good thing goin on with her and ike but then when he started beating her it was another thing you know sooo i guess she is best off with her husband now!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. 5 charlane October 18, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    i think she did really good with ike but shes better off now without him she didnt need someone that she loved to be sooo abusive towards her she deserved much better he was stupid for wat he did to her he lost everything and that wat he deserves plus more….

  6. 6 charlane October 18, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    i think she did really good with ike, but shes better off now without him. she didnt need someone that she loved to be sooo abusive towards her she deserved much better he was stupid for wat he did to her, he lost everything and thats wat he deserves plus more….

  7. 7 Dj Tenn. January 16, 2010 at 1:28 am

    without Ike Turner, there would be no Tina Turner, she will tell you that herself. Ike turned little Anna Mae Bullock into this queen of the Jungle Tina Turner.

    That does NOT excuse his abusive and sick behaviour towards Tina for one second however.
    In Maya Angelou’s autobiography , she recalls a chance meeting with Billie Holiday when she was touring Angelou’s home town. Her advice to a young Maya?
    “Girl, dont EVER fall in love with a music man. ‘Cuz the MAN in this country will only let him go so far, only let him get so popular, and when that happens, he will turn around and take it out on you “.
    I think of that quote anytime the name Ike Turner comes to mind. Ike & Tina were touring alongside The Rolling Stones & Eric Clapton , holding their own , yet Ike never received the accolades and industry “carte blanche” those other 2 acts did and clearly,it drove him even crazier.

    Also, for everyone under the impression that Tina herself is some spotless fairy godmother , a friend of mine worked alongside La Turner on a video shoot in the 80s at the height of her comeback fervor and he told me that after 3 days on that set with her fit throwing , screaming at everyone and being an impossible diva, his sympathy was with Ike.

    although I must give you thanks and props for a great article , Tina’s comeback album ” Private Dancer” wasnt released until late 1983 when following a cover single of Al Green’s “Let Stay Together” hit #1 in UK and several other countries. It would be another year later in 1984 before she could even land a record deal here in the US. European audiences always kept her going , even though her most lean years. I saw her that year in 1984 as an opening act for Lionel Ritchie in Chattanooga Tenn. and knew she was destined for bigger things. A year later, she was headlining stadiums herself and starring in “Mad Max :Thunderdome”

    R.I.P. Ike Turner , one of the original kings of swing.

  8. 8 Anonymous February 21, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    i felt sorry for u when i heard that he beat u !!!

  9. 9 Danielle March 6, 2010 at 11:09 am

    fuck ike! that wife beating bitch he was a bitch!

  10. 10 Soundcloud Mixtapes February 6, 2017 at 5:54 am

    We understand that music addiction serves as a surrogate for lack of human bonds. Songs can pierce the heart directly; it takes no mediation. Regular Future House mixtapes uploaded every Wednesday. Listen to us on MySpace!

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