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Ike Turner, Legendary Rock Musician And Notorious Wife-Beater, Has Died
How The Latest Round Of Obits (And A Crappy-But-Memorable Film Starring Laurence Fishburne) Proves There’s No Statute Of Limitations On Spousal Abuse

Suddenly, I’ve once again found myself in the unenviable position of voicing support for a controversial figure whose behavior verged from self-destructive to utterly indefensible. And yet, there are several extremely important differences.

First, while Smith’s talents, achievements and contribution to society were negligible at best, Turner is an undisputed musical genius, a guitar legend who was credited with launching Tina’s career and inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in his own right. Second, whereas Smith (a former Playboy model) was judged predominantly for her latent promiscuity and perceived materialism, Turner’s demonstrable musical prowess was all but eclipsed by a much greater societal taboo, namely notorious reputation as a wife-batterer and a drug addict.

Which is to say, nobody would have even remembered Anna Nicole Smith were it not for the controversy, whereas everyone has seemingly forgotten who Ike Turner was because of it.

In the wake of Smith’s death I wrote, “Not every story has a punchline. And though this one undeniably has a lot of tabloid fodder…it seems important to remember that what happened yesterday was still a tragedy.”

Certainly no one is arguing that the death of 76 year-old Ike Turner was a tragedy. But perhaps the tragedy here is the desecration of his memory.

And the fact that, as the Times casually observed, the septuagenarian father of five, legendary rock & roll legend, extraordinary guitarist and eccentric genius behind iconic hits “Proud Mary” and “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” will be remembered, first and foremost, as a spousal abuser for a marriage that disintegrated in 1975.

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Dec 13, 2007 · Link · 6 Responses

Comments (6)

No. 1
JD says:

How tragic!

I’m bumpin’ Ike and Tina’s “Proud Mary” all day today!!

Posted: Dec 13, 2007 at 4:36 pm

No. 2
Roberta says:

Good job, Debbie Newman. Ike was a sonofabitch, but that’s not all he was. Had to be said.

Posted: Dec 13, 2007 at 4:52 pm

No. 3
tom ray says:

Ike’s temper was doubtless enflamed by a
multi-decade grand mal cocaine habit. At least he never played the typical celeb mea culpea:
‘oh-I-was-out-of-control-the-drugs-had-me-blah–bah-blah-thank-god-that…’; we all know the drill.

Brilliant visionary musican. Brilliant bandleader. Fiery showman. Master-architect of Blues/Soul/Rock. That’s irrefutable, the rest is dross.

RIP Ike, from your friends in St. Louis.

Posted: Dec 13, 2007 at 6:46 pm

No. 4
Terry says:

Tina Turners biopic was just that. A one sided story of her life with Ike. I’m not suggesting that her story was dishonest, but that there is more than her side to the story and certainly more than the Hollywood induced images that stuck in our minds. Regardless of what happened between the two of them, Ike Turner is a music pioneer and legend and if it were not for Ike, we would never have even heard of Anna Mae Bulluck not to mention the throngs of mucisians that road his coat tails.

RIP Big Ike…You will be missed

Posted: Dec 14, 2007 at 11:07 am

No. 5
Nicole says:

I wonder if Tina is going to release any kind of statement?

Posted: Dec 15, 2007 at 7:27 pm

No. 6
fiona says:

The man was sick and a brute. Drugs don’t create an impulse to attack people. The violence is an expression of damage unaddressed and allowed to fester in someone’s heart. I can’t recognize a musical contribution that comes from a dark sadistic soul. I hope he made his peace with God before he faded away.

Posted: Dec 16, 2007 at 2:42 am

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