Music legend Ike Turner, whose abusive marriage to singer Tina Turner made his name a virtual byword for domestic violence, has died at the age of 76.
Turner died at his house near San Diego yesterday after a rollercoaster musical career spanning more than five decades. Last night his ex-wife, soul legend Tina Turner, declined to comment on his death. She claimed she has not had any contact with him in 35 years.
A spokeswoman for Tina Turner would only say: “Tina is aware that Ike passed away.”
After a hell-raising life in which he gambled away a fortune, became hooked on drugs, did a stint in prison and was still touring right up to his final days, Turner reportedly passed away in his sleep. His manager, Scott Hanover, confirmed: “He did pass away this morning.” The exact cause of death was not known last night.
Although he is said to have married 14 women, his career – and his reputation as a violent, drug-taking wife batterer – was defined by his hugely successful partnership as Ike and Tina Turner, one of the best known duos of the 1960s. Their tempestuous 20-year relationship was immortalized in the 1993 film based on Tina Turner’s autobiography “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”, in which Ike was hauntingly portrayed by actor Laurence Fishburne as a controlling beast who beat and even raped his wife when her fame threatened to eclipse his own.
For years, Ike maintained that Hollywood’s unflinching portrayal of him was wildy inaccurate. “I’ve done a lot of wrong things,” he once told an interviewer. “All I can do is apologise to the people that I may have done wrong. “But I’m not the dude that you see in that movie. Nowhere close.” Although he managed to rehabilitate his image a little in his later years and appear with Tina to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, his musical legacy remains tainted by the brutal excesses of his marriage.
Born and raised in the American deep south in Clarksdale, Mississippi,Turner helped pioneer rock and roll in 1951 when his group, the Rhythm Kings, recorded the song “Rocket 88” a tune widely regarded as the first record in the nascent genre. As a guitarist and pianist, he played with blues greats like B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters in the 1950s.
But it was a meeting with a young 18-year-old singer named Annie Mae Bullock that would put both of them on the path to fame. 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 fervour of a rock singer with a twist of soul.
After Annie changed her name to Tina and married Ike in 1958, they went on to hit the top of the charts around the world as Ike and Tina Turner But it was a meeting with a young 18-year-old singer named Annie Mae Bullock that would put both of them on the path to fame. 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 fervour of a rock singer with a twist of soul. After Annie changed her name to Tina and married Ike in 1958, they went on to hit the top of the charts around the world as Ike and Tina Turner with hits like River Deep, Mountain High, Proud Mary and Nutbush City Limits.
They won a Grammy in 1972, but by then the relationship was already breaking apart. While Ike plunged into a crippling cocaine addition that ended up with him spending two years behind bars at the end of the 1980s, Tina went on to even greater success as a solo artist. It was only when Tina made her huge comeback that the full extent of her ex-husband’s brutality emerged. Her memoir and the subsequent film, which starred Angela Bassett as Tina, led to Ike being demonized around the world. While contemporaries such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley crossed over to white audiences, Ike Turner never made the jump and was confined to the less-lucrative R&B category.
However, he continued to tour and won a Grammy earlier this year for his album “Risin’ With the Blues”. Turner had two sons with Tina and numerous other children with his subsequent wives. At the time of his death, he was living with girfriend and singing partner, Audrey, who wore a Tina Turner-style wig when they performed together on stage.
- November, 05, 1931
- Clarksdale, Mississippi
- December, 12, 2007
- San Marcos, California
Cause of Death
- cocaine toxicity with other significant conditions, such as hypertensive cardiovascular disease and pulmonary emphysema