Ike Turner dead at 76

Wed Dec 12, 2007 5:03pm EST
 
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Ike Turner, who rose to fame in the 1950s and became a star performing with his ex-wife Tina Turner, has died at age 76, said an official with the performer's management company.

"Ike Turner passed away this morning. He was at his home," in San Marcos, California, outside San Diego, said Scott Hanover of Thrill Entertainment.

Hanover did not have any further information about the cause of death.

Turner helped pioneer rock 'n' roll in 1951 when his band the Rhythm Kings recorded the song "Rocket 88," a tune widely regarded as the first record in the nascent genre. The Chess Records release was credited to the band's saxophone player Jackie Brenston "and his Delta Cats."

As a guitarist and pianist, Turner played with the likes of B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon in the 1950s. He married Annie Mae Bullock in 1958, she changed her name to Tina, and they enjoyed such hits as "River Deep, Mountain High," "Proud Mary" and "Nutbush City Limits."

The pair won a Grammy in 1972 for "Proud Mary," and earlier this year Ike Turner was awarded again with the record industry's top honor for his traditional blues album, "Risin' with the Blues."

After his and Tina Turner's 1976 divorce, Ike Turner was crippled by a cocaine addiction and was widely vilified in the mid-1980s as Tina Turner mounted a huge comeback and said she had suffered abuse and humiliation at his hand.

While contemporaries such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley crossed over to white audiences, Ike Turner never made the jump and was confined to the less-lucrative R&B category.

The Turners were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Sandra Maler)

 
<p>Ike Turner poses with his Grammy for Best Traditional Blues Album for 'Risin With the Blues' at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, February 11, 2007. Turner, who rose to fame in the 1950s and became a star performing with his ex-wife Tina Turner, has died at age 76, according to published reports on Wednesday. REUTERS/Mike Blake</p>