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Digital Subscriptions > Vintage Rock > FREE Sample Issue > Sharp Dressed Man

Sharp Dressed Man

OFTEN MENTIONED BUT LITTLE PRAISED, THE MAN BETTER KNOWN AS TINA’S HUSBAND HAD MORE INFLUENCE ON ROCK’N’ROLL THAN 100 BETTER KNOWN MUSICIANS. IN 1998, RICK BATEY GAINED A RARE MEETING WITH IKE TURNER

Ike Turner, who died in 2007, was for a long time one of the least-recognised great forces in twentieth century music. In 1951, aged barely 20, he cut a record that virtually invented rock’n’roll. He played on, wrote, arranged or was the driving force behind an astonishing run of ’50s blues records from the greatest names in the business – BB King, Elmore James, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Howlin’ Wolf and many more. In the ’60s and ’70s he directed and ran one of the most terrifyingly funky rock’n’roll/soul revues of all time. As a guitarist, Ike’s stinging intros and fearsome whammy excursions stand among the hippest and, crucially, most committed of all time – and yet guitar was not even his first instrument.

Today, there’ a marker celebrating Ike Turner in his birthplace of Clarksdale, Mississippi. In 2007, he won a Grammy for Best Traditional Blues album. He recorded a song with Gorillaz. It’s quite a turnaround for a man whose name was literally dirt for many years – the period following the Tina Turner biopic What’s Love Got To Do With It. Thanks to the power of celluloid, much of the world passed final judgement on Ike Turner, forgetting his huge contributions to rock, blues and soul music. Bandleader, songwriter, composer, producer and talent scout; one-time coke fiend, crackhead and jailbird; a leader, a teacher… the contradictions stack higher and higher. Just who, one can’t help but wonder, was the real Ike Turner?

© Michael Ochs Archives/Getty
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About Vintage Rock

Vintage Rock: Winter issue 2011 features: 50 Greatest Rockabilly tracks - Prepare yourself for the greatest party tape in history with our essential cuts. The Roots of Rock’n’Roll - The definitive lowdown on how it all began The stars - Fantastic features on Elvis, Hank Marvin, Jet Harris, Carl Perkins, Ike Turner and many more Rockabilly Hair - Tope stylist Mr Ducktail tells all, ably assisted by Levi and Bernie Dexter All Mama’s Children - News, reviews and events for the incorrigibly beat-minded