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Ike Turner: King of Rhythm Hardcover – 1 Oct 2003
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Looks at the life and career of the man who is best known as "Mr. Tina Turner" and discusses Ike Turner's influence on blues, R&B, and rock and roll music.
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This didn't bother me, as I specifically wanted to get a scope of what 50s RnB hits Turner plays on, and the list runs to about 70 sides. I wish Collis had covered this period of Turner's life in more detail in the main text, only 70 pages are devoted to his pre-Tina life. Turner himself seems a mysterious man, I was hoping this book would separate the fact from the fiction a bit more. However when I saw two of the main sources referenced seem to be Turner's own autobiography, the 1999 'Takin' Back My Name' and Tina Turner's 1986 autobiography, my heart sank as I suspected this was going to be the same information trotted out that I can get from other places. There aren't any new interviews here, just a collection of material, but Collis does a good job of fashioning it into a coherent and well-written chronology.
Ike, like many musicians of his era, was I suspect a shameless self-mythologizer, a fabricator and a joker. Though he was quite consistant in his stories over the years, the details change slightly in different interviews, and I think some of them would bear closer scrutiny. Surprisingly, unlike a lot of other music icons, his claims never seem to have been challenged much, with everything taken pretty much at face value.
I would like greater scrutiny given to stories such as the one that his father was beaten and left for dead by a white mob, then refused access to the white hospital. However I have seen respected blues writer and historian Ted Drozdowski tell a different story of how Turner's father died in an industrial accident. The whole story does not hold up for me, and I would have liked this investigated further. Also at times Turner changes how much money he made for certain recordings and I would like to have had definitive figures on this, but again this is brushed over.
With first hand witnesses fast dying off, it looks less and less likely we will ever find out the real truth about the man. Maybe if interviews had been conducted twenty-five years ago the legend could have been unpicked, but as Turner was persona non-grata back then no-one was prepared to, or wanted to approach the subject. Ironically those who condemned and shunned him for his abuse of Tina seem to have granted him a mythical status.
Having said all that this is an enjoyable and informative, if not thoroughly elucidating read. The discography is especially useful, nice to see Rocket 88 wasn't his only recording before Tina came along. I don't think the defintive Ike Turner biography's been written yet, but until it is this will make do. Try and get it cheap and you won't be disappointed.
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Always refreshing to read about a Musical legend without the "tormented genius" underpinning - and without the deatils most of us know about, the horror, the violence. The author does not look for childhood, or social issues, to explain the appalling behavior of someone who should know better, an artist, presumeably more sensitive, thinking deeper, looking for resolution.
Seems like that "resolution" was mostly in the return to the C7 chord...and in Anna mae's/Tina's departure.
We have a very helpful discography of singles and albums, with catalogue numbers and release dates; but no sessionography. Still, the Historian will enjoy the parenthetical mention of when Ike was present on another's record, guitar and/or piano.
Little Richard fans will enjoy the kind of "mutual admiration society" between Richard and Ike, reported here. Richard not only wrote a long foreward to Ike's autobiography but says that Ike is the *original* innovator of the new music! While Collis says that Ike found in "Little Ann" - Tina - his own "Little Richard". There's a disc listed including Little Ann and so we have the connection.
Ike Turner, good singer, guitarist, piano player; great arranger-producer (not only of his group many other solo acts and groups). Turner may not be *the* originator...but he just might be Rock's first Cartographer!