Ike Turner dead at 76

Wed Dec 12, 2007 6:58pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Ike Turner, an influential guitarist who turned his wife Tina Turner into a superstar in the 1960s but later saw his career collapse amid drugs and claims of spousal abuse, died on Wednesday at his home near San Diego. He was 76.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

"Ike Turner passed away this morning. He was at his home," in San Marcos, Calif., said Scott Hanover of Thrill Entertainment, the performer's management company.

After slipping into obscurity in recent decades, Turner was on a comeback trail of sorts. He won his first Grammy since 1972 earlier this year for a blues album and was collaborating on a project with producer Danger Mouse.

While Ike Turner arguably invented rock 'n' roll with his 1951 song "Rocket 88" and enjoyed huge fame in the 1960s and 1970s with Tina Turner, his achievements were overshadowed when Tina Turner launched a comeback in the 1980s and accused her former husband of beating her and reducing her to servitude.

Izear Luster Turner was born in 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, an area steeped in the traditions of blues music, and as a boy learned to play piano and was a disc jockey for a local radio station.

He formed his first band in high school and by 1951 was the man behind the Kings of Rhythm, whose 1951 song "Rocket 88" is widely regarded as the first record in the nascent rock 'n' roll 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, and his band performed in the popular style of a revue featuring different vocalists.   Continued...

<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>