Local Wire

Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm

If Ike Turner's name only draws mental images of a man violently mashing cake into Tina Turner's face, that's a great example of the instant karma that has beset one of the greatest guitarists in the history of R&B. Everything you've heard about Ike Turner may be true, but you probably haven't heard everything. Turner released his first record with the Kings of Rhythm in 1951, a number one R&B hit called "Rocket 88," which some people say was the first rock 'n' roll record. His piano skills and signature whammy-bar guitar graced the earliest records of people like B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf (both of whom Turner recruited for Modern Records). He discovered Tina Turner, and they recorded blazing hot songs like "A Fool in Love," "Shake a Tail Feather," and CCR's "Proud Mary." He influenced a slew of legendary guitarists, from Buddy Guy to Muddy Waters. But these are not the things people remember about Ike. Once dubbed "The Wicked Prince of the Blues," the 73-year-old Ike long ago left his cocaine-snorting, wife-beating days behind him and now calls himself "The Father of the Rock 'n' Roll," urging kids to "Stay in school and stay off drugs."
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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea