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Sure, I've slapped Tina... There have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I never beat her.
December 12, 2007 1:55 PM   Subscribe

Ike Turner, 1931-2007 Though his music was overshadowed later in life by the success of his ex-wife and his personal demons, his undeniable innovations continue to resonate this day.
posted by anazgnos (83 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
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posted by mattbucher at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2007


Only the good die young.
posted by Mister_A at 1:57 PM on December 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


He was a rotten son of a bitch, without question, but the man had some serious talent. If he wasn't such a bastard we'd all be remembering him for "Rocket '88."
posted by Rangeboy at 1:59 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was riding down the 110 freeway in LA a couple of years ago and my buddy Jeff pulled up behind a tan Mercedes with a license tag reading IKETRNR. There's no way that's him, we thought. We were wrong.

He was talking on his car phone (the kind with the cord attached to the dash) and wearing a big ass medallion around his neck. He had a female passenger in the front seat who seemed rather well-behaved.
posted by dhammond at 2:00 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


He had a female passenger in the front seat who seemed rather well-behaved.

Well, she better have been...
posted by clevershark at 2:02 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


*says his name, says his name*
posted by jonmc at 2:03 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Married thirteen times. You have to wonder about wives number 12 and 13 - heck, any of them past six or so. "Sure, the others couldn't change him, but it'll be different with me."
posted by yhbc at 2:08 PM on December 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


yeah, I think those past six aren't marring him because he has a nice personality.

But as others have noted he had an assload of talent, too bad it came with such dramatic un-niceness.
posted by edgeways at 2:11 PM on December 12, 2007


.
posted by action man bow-tie at 2:13 PM on December 12, 2007


Damn, sorry to hear that.

If he wasn't such a bastard we'd all be remembering him for "Rocket '88."

I always tell people that if you have to pick a "first rock-and-roll song" (which is basically a mug's game), it's "Rocket '88." Everything he did in the '50s was amazing; check out this list. There was a time when I listened to "I'm Tore Up" (nominal leader Billy Gales) at least once a day for weeks. A hell of a musician (and yeah, a lousy husband, but the post title is still a pretty shitty one for an obit thread).
posted by languagehat at 2:24 PM on December 12, 2007


Wow, I didn't know you could die of being an asshole.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:28 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Back in ethnomusicology class (yup), we heard this probably apocryphal story regarding "Rocket 88". Apparently Ike and the Kings were driving on their way to the studio, when their amp fell off the roof of the car. The speaker cone was busted, but it was all they had, so they stuffed a wad of paper in the cone, and thus the Rock n' Roll sound was born.
posted by noble_rot at 2:36 PM on December 12, 2007


Bad man, great artist. More evidence that art and biography are is an essentially amoral undertaking, and must not be judged in terms of the quality of the people who produce it, but instead on its own merits.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:38 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Boyzone took a big hit today.
posted by phaedon at 2:39 PM on December 12, 2007


I'm just glad he wasn't my garbage man.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:39 PM on December 12, 2007


"Rocket 88"

the post title is still a pretty shitty one for an obit thread
I agree, but "the evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones."

posted by kirkaracha at 2:41 PM on December 12, 2007


Boyzone took a big hit today.

You vastly underestimate the amount of shit women have had to put up with.

Whether you're talking about our local little corner called MeFi, the world at large and/or Ike Turner's death or all of the above. Vastly.
posted by loquacious at 2:43 PM on December 12, 2007


Damn.
One of my two or three favorite guitarists. Fantastically gifted musician; fucked-up legacy.

I have a friend who co-produced (or maybe engineered) one of Ike's recent albums (this one, I believe), and said that while he was utterly, utterly floored by Ike's musical skill, he was frustrated to within an inch of his life by his argumentative, pain-in-the-ass nature.

But, shit, man, the stuff Ike recorded in the '50s just fucking cooks. I strongly recommend these very nice compilation albums: Ike's Instrumentals; Rhythm Rockin' Blues.

And, though it's an entirely academic exercise, and while "Rocket 88" is a furiously great song, it's worth mentioning Billy Ward & His Dominoes' "Sixty-Minute Man" as a decent choice for "first rock 'n' roll song." As good as any other option, really; I've heard compelling cases for both Louis Jordan and even Coleman Hawkins tunes, as well.
posted by Dr. Wu at 2:52 PM on December 12, 2007


Back in ethnomusicology class (yup), we heard this probably apocryphal story regarding "Rocket 88". Apparently Ike and the Kings were driving on their way to the studio, when their amp fell off the roof of the car. The speaker cone was busted, but it was all they had, so they stuffed a wad of paper in the cone, and thus the Rock n' Roll sound was born.

I have heard that but have always wondered about the truth of it. Howlin' Wolf's first records featured a heavily distorted guitar played by Willie Steel.
...Wolf's first recording session for Sun Records in 1951. The songs were "Moanin' at Midnight" and "How Many More Years" with Ike Turner playing piano and Willie Johnson on guitar. The songs became big hits on the rhythm 'n' blues charts.
As Ike Turner was the producer of and player on both songs, it may have been a sound he pioneered or one he took up, depending upon which was recorded first and who told what to whom.

That aside, Ike Turner was a man whose life encompassed a whole lot of music and who will be a historical figure as much as in spite of as because of his relationship with Tina. His combo had a tight sound that influenced the sound of many blues recorded in the 50s.

And previously...

Boy, of the folks listed there, only David Honeyboy Edwards is still alive...
posted by y2karl at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2007


Fats Domino's "The Fat Man." That's the first.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:57 PM on December 12, 2007


Ike Turner's Guide to Restoring America's Honor: OK, first things first, America. Stop smacking the bitch... I know you tried to warn Iraq... But Iraq wouldn't listen... and you had to teach Iraq a lesson.
posted by zaelic at 3:00 PM on December 12, 2007


If there was any justice in the world, he died when Tina's music was on the radio. I'd like to picture him angry and frustrated as he went to his reward.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:01 PM on December 12, 2007


zaelic - wow. quick on the draw you are. I was just getting ready to post that.
posted by Afroblanco at 3:01 PM on December 12, 2007


Thanks for your obit post anazgnos. I think you did a good job with it and I learned things about Ike I didn't know, like about Rocket 88.

Ike Turner's Rocket 88 innovation and his bringing his awesome protégé and ex-wife, abuse-survivor, Tina Turner, into the limelight were excellent events. A pity the good in his life was overwhelmed by the bad in him. I don't think he was that talented, as some malignant narcissists like him can be. But he made some damn good music.

According to his Wikipedia entry he was married 14 times... it's believed Ike married Tina in 1962 due to worries over being sued for child support and alimony payments by Taylor....Tina later filed for divorce and it was finalized in 1978 with Ike keeping every asset attained during the marriage with the obvious exception of her given stage name. Ike openly cheated on Tina with other women...

He left Tina in the ashes with nothing.

In a 2001 interview with The Associated Press, Turner denied his ex-wife's claims of abuse and expressed frustration that he had been demonized in the media while his historic role in rock's beginnings had been ignored. "Sure, I've slapped Tina... There have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I never beat her."

Classic behavior of a criminal bully, to deny his abuse, however transparent the abuse is to anyone else, take no responsibility and play victim.

In the mid-70's I saw the Ike and Tina Turner Revue in London. It was awesome in its big band energy and showcasing Tina's genius.

But when Tina came out with her Private Dancer album, it was so amazing, it had a deep impact on my life, as did her story. To some extent I attribute breaking free of an Ike type of character in my life at that time to her album and sharing her story.

I wonder what Tina is feeling today. My condolences especially to his kids, sons Ike Turner Jr., Michael Turner, Ronald Turner and daughter Tawana Melby for having had to have survived what they did, not having an emotionally healthy father and then the loss of his death on top of that loss. Hope they were able to go to therapy for their wounds and able to heal.
posted by nickyskye at 3:02 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bastard, for sure. But how many bastards leave such music behind? *digs Ike & Tina live album up and listens to it*

.
posted by ersatz at 3:03 PM on December 12, 2007


Years ago I went to Eli's Mile High Club, a tiny blues dive in an especially dangerous neighborhood in Oakland, because a friend had heard that Ike, who had just been released from prison that day, was going to be there. Sure enough the place was packed, and after the band played for a while they made the announcement about their "surprise" guest. The best touch, as he entered the club from the street and made his way to the stage, was the bartender reaching beneath the bar to grab a huge flashlight (the kind that's as effective as a weapon as it is as illumination), and used it as to spotlight Ike for his grand entrance. The mediocre lead singer did her soulful best with "Mustang Sally" and a bunch of other blues chestnuts, but Ike tore the place apart. Ah, memories...

.
posted by twsf at 3:03 PM on December 12, 2007


ps, Isn't that Samuel L. Jackson in Tina Turner's What's Love Got To Do With It video I posted above under the Private Dancer album link? I think he's in the street dice game part.
posted by nickyskye at 3:10 PM on December 12, 2007


Boyzone took a big hit today.

You vastly underestimate the amount of shit women have had to put up with.

Whether you're talking about our local little corner called MeFi, the world at large and/or Ike Turner's death or all of the above. Vastly.


Dude, back the fuck up.
posted by phaedon at 3:20 PM on December 12, 2007


I don't have an online cite, but the story of the busted amp appears in Robert Palmer's excellent book Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History from the Mississippi Delta to the Chicago's South Side to the World. However, Palmer's source was Sam Phillips, who recorded the song and was known to...exaggerate some of his stories about the good old days.

(FWIW, Dr. Wu, Palmer puts forth the idea of "Sixty-Minute Man" as the first rock 'n' roll record only to shoot it down: "Musically the record wasn't rock and roll. It had a light, bouncy, jazz-related groove, and the only electric instrument was a trebly, discreetly amplified guitar. 'Rocket 88,' with its furious drive, heavily amplified guitar, and screaming saxophone solo, rocked out."
posted by Rangeboy at 3:20 PM on December 12, 2007


They made a good point the last time he was on Stern... as bad as Ike was to Tina, she did carry on the rest of her life as Tina *Turner*, which was not her maiden name.
posted by autodidact at 3:32 PM on December 12, 2007


I thought he had been dead for a while. Good to know.
posted by parmanparman at 3:34 PM on December 12, 2007


as bad as Ike was to Tina, she did carry on the rest of her life as Tina *Turner*, which was not her maiden name.
I'm not sure what you think that demonstrates, other than it's the name she had when she got famous, and she made a pragmatic choice to stick with it.

Also, his music was overshadowed by his cruelty and shitheadery, which, well, "personal demons"? Ok. Seems like getting it the wrong way round, like saying "poor Ike, he really struggled with those demons" and not say "he personally chose to beat up his wife". I mean, yes, abusers have their own histories, and it's not a happy place inside their heads, but something about the priorities suggested by the phrasing of the post rubbed me wrong and I had to come in here and carp about it. (Not saying anazgnos meant anything in particular by it.) Carp carp carp.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:40 PM on December 12, 2007 [3 favorites]


They made a good point the last time he was on Stern... as bad as Ike was to Tina, she did carry on the rest of her life as Tina *Turner*, which was not her maiden name.

Well-known last name/legacy + good alliterative sound when combined with the first name = keeper
posted by Mikey-San at 3:40 PM on December 12, 2007


I was just talking about how, while I know it makes me a bad person or whatever, I love Tina's music from the period where she was with him so much more than anything else she did.

They made such fantastic music together. Shame he had to beat her to do so.
posted by klangklangston at 3:44 PM on December 12, 2007


Haven't read any of these comments yet, but I'm sure many of them must say what I think: what a cosmic drag such a totally badass bandleader and guitarist was also a lousy wifebeating jerk.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:58 PM on December 12, 2007


This is sad....very sad. I'm mostly sad that he'll be remembered and talked about more for his personal faults than for his incredible contribution to the world of music.
posted by rocket88 at 4:00 PM on December 12, 2007



Also, his music was overshadowed by his cruelty and shitheadery, which, well, "personal demons"? Ok. Seems like getting it the wrong way round, like saying "poor Ike, he really struggled with those demons" and not say "he personally chose to beat up his wife". I mean, yes, abusers have their own histories, and it's not a happy place inside their heads, but something about the priorities suggested by the phrasing of the post rubbed me wrong and I had to come in here and carp about it. (Not saying anazgnos meant anything in particular by it.) Carp carp carp.

No, I kind of knew that was a weak way to put it, but I couldn't think of anything better on the spot at the time. I meant it in the broadest sense of "bad stuff associated with him" and not as any kind of excuse for his behaviour.

I wasn't trying to be snotty with my post title, btw...I figured wife-beating was the #1 thing he's known for among general audiences, but I didn't want to emphasize it in the main body.
posted by anazgnos at 4:05 PM on December 12, 2007


But y'all gotta head over to Ike's MySpace page and hear what smells like Ike's thinly allegorical musical take on his life with Tina. It's on the player, and it's called "Eighteen Long Years". "I worked 18 years for one woman, she had the nerve to kick me out"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:05 PM on December 12, 2007


I'm mostly sad that he'll be remembered and talked about more for his personal faults than for his incredible contribution to the world of music.

Hey, OJ Simpson was one of the great football players of all time, too, but fair is fair.
posted by jonmc at 4:10 PM on December 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


LobsterMitten, anazgnoz' demons link is to what I thought was a mediocre but somewhat amusing Valentine's Day parody of Ike's abuse, where he smacks Kevin Nealon with the box of chocolates.

I read the "personal demons" cliché as obligatory etiquette in an obit post and a euphemism for drug addled abuser the way the old term " a nervous person" now translates as rageaholic. The personal link in the FPP connects to Ike's justifying that his abuse of his ex-wife was supposed to be kept private, the way domestic violence used to be socially hushed up "a family matter".

Since the post's title is "Sure, I've slapped Tina... There have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I never beat her." I think that removes any sugar coating from "personal demons".
posted by nickyskye at 4:15 PM on December 12, 2007


anazgnos and nickyskye, yeah, I didn't think anazagnos was actually doing Ike apologetics here. Like I say, I just wanted to carp. Anyway, cheers for the post; I don't know his early music well so that's a good find.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:30 PM on December 12, 2007


Are there any links to what Tina Turner currently thinks about Ike Turner? I guess some of that will pop up in the wake of his death.
posted by autodidact at 4:47 PM on December 12, 2007


autodidact, in the linked article there's this:

Tina Turner declined to comment on her ex-husband's death."Tina is aware that Ike passed away earlier today. She has not had any contact with him in 35 years. No further comment will be made, " said her spokeswoman, Michele Schweitzer"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:52 PM on December 12, 2007


I'm close to someone who was in rehab within the last couple years and apparently Ike made a go of it at the facility for a couple of days but didn't last very long. Most of the kids there didn't have any idea who he was but my friend is nearly Ike's age and knew who he was immediately. From what I heard the groups sessions with Ike were quite an experience.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:00 PM on December 12, 2007


From what I heard the groups sessions with Ike were quite an experience.

From the sessions:

Ike: "Hey, yo, on the drums back there! You call that a beat muthafucka? We tryin' to get people to dance here, not go to sleep! And where's my horns at? Y'all gotta crack those lines like a gaht-damn whip! And backup singers? What'chall doin'? That ain't singin' that's---

Therapist: "Ike, Ike, remember what we talked about? This is not your band, this is group therapy, Ike. Now, let's get back to Bobby's point about his mother..."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:13 PM on December 12, 2007


Wow, I didn't know you could die of being an asshole.

You can, but it takes a good seventy-six years before it actually does away with you.

Sure, Ike was a bastard. But he was a product of his time and his environment. And cocaine's a hell of a drug. There but for the grace of God...

.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2007


Sure, the guy was a musical legend and at the time, pioneered rock and roll with timeless style. But I hope he rots in hell.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:16 PM on December 12, 2007


I didn't want no cake!
posted by basicchannel at 5:48 PM on December 12, 2007


Really amazing band leader. Only a handful like that, including James Brown, who had his own demons as well. But it was satisfying seeing Tina's solo career completely eclipse him, right out of the gate, if only to see her finally get her due. If the guy had owned up to it and had sought to change, maybe people might remember him with more kindness, but he was a stubborn fool to the end. Too bad. It would have only made his career better, and we'd have more music for it. His memory will always be tainted with his abusive behavior. All of his obits mention the fact that he abused Tina Turner in the first or second sentence.

He really deserved some prison time for his assaults, rather than for cocaine. He was also the victim of abuse, which is par for the course.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


PeterMcDermott writes "Sure, Ike was a bastard. But he was a product of his time and his environment. And cocaine's a hell of a drug. There but for the grace of God..."

Well, plenty of people did plenty of lines without resorting to beating their spouses. In Ike's case, he was very much the product of his upbringing, and not everyone was abused as a child like he was. He also had the choice to follow in those footsteps or to better himself. My father was physically abused as a child, and he never abused me or my step-brother. It's possible to choose a different path.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:55 PM on December 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


The old adage 'don't speak ill of the dead' is not one i'm going to follow this day, and if you can't handle that, look away

Mikey-San, if he coulda died of that, Ike woulda been dead a looong time ago

As for the first rock n roll song, Wynonie Harris' "Good Rockin' Tonight" predates Ike by a good five years

Ike probably mistakenly thought Wynonie was a woman, and therefore decided it didn't count

I don't care if he invented fire, Ike doesn't get to be the inventor of rock n roll

Even if he did do it, which he didn't, he doesn't deserve the moniker

He doesn't deserve to be remembered by history for his contribution to rock music

Ike was Tina Turner's EX-husband

That's the only thing for which he needs to be remembered

And he doesn't get a dot from me
posted by ZachsMind at 6:03 PM on December 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


In summary: I Did Not Like Ike.
posted by hal9k at 6:19 PM on December 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Indisputably a rat bastard. But: The sides he cut for Cobra in the '50s were some of that label's best. I've listened to them all dozens of times and I never get tired of them.

I'm glad that 1) Tina seems to be handling the whole thing with her customary dignity and 2) rocket88 made an appearance in this thread.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:47 PM on December 12, 2007


....Tina later filed for divorce and it was finalized in 1978 with Ike keeping every asset attained during the marriage with the obvious exception of her given stage name. Ike openly cheated on Tina with other women...

He left Tina in the ashes with nothing.


He didn't even want Tina to keep her name, even though it was the only thing she cared about.
posted by orange swan at 7:06 PM on December 12, 2007


At least it wasn't James Brown.
posted by humannaire at 7:32 PM on December 12, 2007


Oh, okay, Kevin Nealon, is that how it is, huh? Fine! You want to talk about Health Care, baby? You want to take about Health Care with Ike?!
posted by Brocktoon at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2007


Gods favorite garbage man.
posted by Sailormom at 8:16 PM on December 12, 2007


.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:42 PM on December 12, 2007


Ike Turner: Rest in Peace - you were a fucking talented guy, even if you were a dick.

It's a shame that more of y'all who are so quick to throw dirt on the grave of the man didn't see fit to pass judgment for James Brown's obit. The fact that JB's wife called the cops and Tina quietly took her beatings for 15 years doesn't make their crimes any less despicable.
posted by dhammond at 9:08 PM on December 12, 2007


Was he able to 'beat' his way into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
posted by HotPatatta at 9:16 PM on December 12, 2007


Yo Ike, bring that beat back! Bring that muthafukkin beat back!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:23 PM on December 12, 2007


INTERVIEWER: So the people who buy your book can learn how you had sex at six years old.

IKE: Well, today they call it child molesting. To me, I was just having fun.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:26 PM on December 12, 2007


Who?
posted by bwg at 2:33 AM on December 13, 2007


Rocket 88 et al vs. Simply the Best = art vs. soft rock. He may have been a bastard to Tina but he gave her the funk. Without Ike, she just made sonic Cheez Whiz. We'll not see his like again....
posted by The Salaryman at 3:14 AM on December 13, 2007


Are there any links to what Tina Turner currently thinks about Ike Turner? I guess some of that will pop up in the wake of his death.

Tina hasn't had any contact with Ike in 35 years. No further comment will be made.
posted by jonp72 at 5:07 AM on December 13, 2007


Never knew a thing about Ike, beyond the bad part. Alas, I fear salaryman is on the right track, but maybe a bit overly stated (Come on, Cheez Whiz? Her singing is too good to use that label, even if she didn't rock that much). What a pity I have crap for bandwidth, at a time like this.
posted by Goofyy at 6:11 AM on December 13, 2007


Her vocal style remains superb Goofyy but its kind of like watching a great chef insisting on making a meal out of two dried out slices of Potted Meat Food Product, a plastic bag and a puddle of corn syrup. Thats the difference between a performer and an artist. An artist would not let Bonnie Tyler covers come out of their mouth...
posted by The Salaryman at 6:22 AM on December 13, 2007


Wait, James Brown is dead?
posted by languagehat at 6:36 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sweet Jesus look at the forehead on that rhythm guitar player! Is that where all the funk is stored?
posted by willie11 at 7:15 AM on December 13, 2007


I remembered Ike last night in the only way that seemed appropriate: I didn't raise a glass, I left the bottle in the fridge.

Some killer tunes and an amazing talent, but damn, I ain't goin' down that road myself. Not tonight, anyway. Rest in peace man, that's all I have to say...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:27 AM on December 13, 2007


Well-known last name/legacy + good alliterative sound when combined with the first name = keeper

Also, "Tina Turner" is catchier than her original name, Anna Mae Bullock.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:29 AM on December 13, 2007


This is sad....very sad. I'm mostly sad that he'll be remembered and talked about more for his personal faults than for his incredible contribution to the world of music.

I hope he will be. It's not sad at all. He was a total shithead, made a choice to BE a total shithead, and SHOULD be remembered as a total shithead. Nothing he did creatively makes up for what a shithead he was. I snorted a "personal demons" myself. Oh, poor tormented man, beating his wives, doing drugs. He's sorry NOW! He just couldn't stop himself at the time!
posted by agregoli at 8:29 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


You'll notice I didn't say I liked the man, or excused his reprehensible actions in any way. I totally agree that Ike was a shithead, an asshole, whatever you want to call him.
But he also made great music. Those two opinions can coexist. His talent doesn't excuse or mitigate his abusive nature, just as his treatment of Tina doesn't subtract from the awesomeness of the music he made.
posted by rocket88 at 8:52 AM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


New York Post: Ike "Beats" Tina to Death
Way to stay classy NYP.
posted by edgeways at 11:13 AM on December 13, 2007


Also, "Tina Turner" is catchier than her original name, Anna Mae Bullock.

I reckon you're right, for a stage name. It's got a fast and flashy sound to it, kind of like the woman's stage persona. I have a certain partiality to "_______ Mae" names, though. They were very prevalent down south for a long time, among black folk and white alike: my mother's name, for example, was "Lula Mae". And Bullock might not be the most attractive name, but it didn't seem to be any impediment to Sandra Bullock's success in Hollywood.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:04 PM on December 13, 2007


Why is it so surprising that talent often goes hand in hand with assholishness?

He was a great musician. "Rocket 88" is one of the greatest pieces of American music ever, and his arrangements were always interesting (and, ahem, rockin').
posted by bardic at 4:33 PM on December 13, 2007


it didn't seem to be any impediment to Sandra Bullock's success in Hollywood
That's 'cause she's so gosh-darn cute. (And perhaps "intermittent success" would be more accurate.)

posted by kirkaracha at 6:35 PM on December 13, 2007


Wait, James Brown is dead?

Oh please no no no. Not again. Please tell me that James Brown is not dead again. I could barely handle it the first time.
posted by humannaire at 7:57 PM on December 13, 2007


I want to get back to the FOURTEEN WIVES part. FOURTEEN. What the hell were 4-14 thinking???? Oh, he won't beat ME. Oh, he won't cheat on ME. Oh, he will change for ME. Oh, he's going to last with ME. Stupid, stupid women. What low self-esteem you have to have to be wife #13 of a asshole, drug-addict, violent, egomaniac, and not to mention wildly ugly man. Stupid stupid women.
posted by aacheson at 8:51 PM on December 13, 2007


Wow, aacheson. Way to completely not understand the profiles of people who turn to abusers. Stupid is such a toss-away thing to say without scratching the surface of the psychology of this. I think it's stupid, personally, to dimiss all of those people as simply "stupid" and I was offended by your comment.
posted by agregoli at 7:03 AM on December 14, 2007


The Devil and Ike Turner
Parsing his hits.
By Donald Fagen
posted by anazgnos at 1:05 PM on December 18, 2007


From the Fagen article:
Most all the musicians of my acquaintance know the legend of Robert Johnson, the great Delta bluesman. At a crossroads at midnight, Robert meets the devil (or Eshu or Papa Legba) and, in exchange for his immortal soul, comes away with supernatural skills as a singer and guitarist. Many versions of this Faustian story put the crossroads at Clarksdale, Miss., where Highway 49 meets Highway 61.
The only problem with that story is that it is a rock critic manufactured urban legend.
The crossroads ritual is currently best known in popular American culture through the recent acceptance of a spurious legend that the famous 1930s blues singer Robert Johnson claimed that he had learned how to play guitar by selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads, somewhere in Mississippi. In truth, the blues singer who publicly made this claim was Robert's rather less-well-known contemporary and friend Tommy Johnson, not related to Robert. Tommy Johnson is remembered for his classic recording of "Maggie Campbell Blues." LeDell Johnson, Tommy Johnson's brother, spoke with the blues scholar David Evans about Tommy's sudden guitar playing skill and Tommy's claims about it. His account of the ritual is typical of others collected throughout the South. Note that LeDell did not say that Tommy Johnson called the crossroads spirit "the devil" and he did not mention selling his soul.
"If you want to learn how to make songs yourself, you take your guitar and you go to where the road crosses that way, where a crossroads is. Get there, be sure to get there just a little 'fore 12 that night so you know you'll be there. You have your guitar and be playing a piece there by yourself...A big black man will walk up there and take your guitar and he'll tune it. And then he'll play a piece and hand it back to you. That's the way I learned to play anything I want."
from "Tommy Johnson" by David Evans (London: Studio Vista, 1971). [Thanks to Debbie Sexton (Ginger5904@aol.com) for sourcing this material.]
Robert Johnson, shown here, did record a song called "Crossroads," but it is about hitch-hiking, not magic. In other songs he made it clear that he was familiar with and practiced hoodoo: In "Hellhound on My Trail" he mentions Hot Foot Powder, in "Come On In My Kitchen" he refers to a woman's nation sack, and in "Little Queen of Spades" he describes how his lover uses a mojo bag to gain good luck in gambling. But hoodoo is an entire system of belief and the ritual whereby one learns skills at a crossroads is only one of thousands of practices that are part of the hoodoo tradition. Robert Johnson worked hoodoo and believed in it, but he himself apparently did not claim that he used the crossroads ritual to gain mastery of the guitar. This is not to say that he did not do so -- for many, many people have done it, and not only because they wanted to learn to play the guitar, but to become proficient on other musical instruments, to improve their skills as dancers, to become good at throwing dice, and to learn how to lay tricks (cast spells). However, in the interest of accuracy, i must repeat that Robert Johnson never claimed he worked the crossroads ritual. Tommy Johnson did, however.

As far as I have been able to determine it was a writer named Robert Palmer who bears the responsibility for transferring Tommy Johnson's crossroads story to Robert Johnson, probably because Robert Johnson was so much better known and Palmer thought it made a better story.

Unfortunately, Palmer and the other European-American writers who propagated his fictional story, were unfamiliar with the teacher at the crossroads and they conflated Tommy Johnson's "big black man" with Goethe's Mephistopheles in "Faust," and then painted false "spooky" images of those who received the gift of learning. It particular, they took their cue from "Faust" to cast Robert Johnson into the role of a tormented and tortured soul doomed to suffer the wrath of God. Needless to say, Palmer's take on the black man at the crossroads does not accord with oral histories collected in the South in the 1930s, the time in which Robert and Tommy Johnson were friends.
The Crossroads in Hoodoo Magic and THe Ritual of Selling Yourself to the Devil

Fagen's piece was based upon an oft repeated fiction. It's a pretty story which those who knew Robert Johnson the best--Robert Jr. Lockwood and Johnny Shines, among others--have adamantly denied in interview after interview after interview.
posted by y2karl at 6:44 PM on December 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


LA Times: Ike Turner remembered with raucous musical memorial service. And look who was there:

"Phil Spector, the fabled record producer and recent celebrity defendant, for instance, gave a long speech decrying Turner's defining public persona as the abusive former husband of Tina Turner, a reputation largely shaped by the 1993 Oscar-winning film "What's Love Got To Do With It," which Spector called "that piece of trash movie that made up things about him."

Spector also took potshots at Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg and Tina Turner, all of whom he said contributed to demonizing Turner, who died Dec. 12 at his home in San Diego County at 76 after a long battle with emphysema. Other speakers at the service included Little Richard, soul singer Solomon Burke and members of the Turner family."

posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:35 PM on December 21, 2007


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