Thursday, December 13, 2007
Ike Turner, 1931-2007
Chris Isaak and his band happened to be in my tour group at Sun Studios a few years ago. A spirited debate broke out between the Isaak camp, the scripted tour guide and myself about the identification of "first rock'n'roll record." The Sun representative argued for "Rocket 88" as he pointed to an exhibit with the dusty amp Ike Turner used on the 1951 session. Isaak's guitarist lobbied for Chuck Berry's first hit. I made a case for Turner's "Box Top" (featured here on 10/06/06). In each instance, Turner was physically or spiritually present.
If you don't believe my assertion that Turner influenced fellow St. Louis resident Berry, check out 1952's "Prancin'" from the Ike's Instrumentals compilation. It's a virtual blueprint for Berry's "Roll Over Beethoven," recorded four years later. Turner, who died yesterday, was the man.
I last saw Turner perform three or four years ago at the Kansas City Blues & Jazz Festival. He wore leather pants and a loose-fitting vest that showed off his sculpted torso. Even in his 70s he cut an imposing figure. And when a blonde in his band wasn't singing lead, his set consisted of tough R&B.
An unfortunate controversy about Turner's legacy in St. Louis continued right up to his death. If you still insist on seeing Ike with Annie Mae, I recommend this incendiary footage.
Kansas City Click: Dinosaur Jr is at the VooDoo Lounge tonight. Awesome Color and Dead Girls Ruin Everything open.