Ike Turner dead at 76

Wed Dec 12, 2007 8:27pm EST
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By Bob Tourtellotte and Dean Goodman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rock 'n' roll pioneer Ike Turner, whose achievements as one of the founding fathers of the genre were overshadowed by ex-wife Tina Turner's claims that he regularly beat her for almost two decades, died on Wednesday at his home near San Diego. He was 76.

His cause of death was not immediately known, said his manager, Scott Hanover.

After years of obscurity, Turner was on a comeback trail of sorts. He won his first Grammy in 35 years this past February for an acclaimed blues album and had been collaborating on musical ideas with producer Danger Mouse, one-half of the pop-soul duo Gnarls Barkley.

The one-time disc jockey arguably invented rock 'n' roll with his 1951 song "Rocket 88," and he enjoyed huge fame in the 1960s and 1970s as the Svengali behind Ike and Tina Turner, a R&B revue that dazzled audiences with high-energy performances of such tunes as "Proud Mary" and "River Deep Mountain High."

But Ike Turner was also a violent man, according to his ex-wife and others including Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, who said he saw him pistol-whip a fellow musician.

"Ike acted like a goddamned pimp," Richards told Vanity Fair in 1993.

Tina Turner's memoir, "I, Tina," and a 1993 biopic "What's Love Got to Do With It" turned Ike Turner into one of the most notorious villains in the music industry.

The singer said her ex-husband regularly abused and humiliated her for 16 years, and drove her to attempt suicide in 1968. He cracked her ribs, threw hot coffee in her face, burnt her with a cigarette and punched her in the nose so often she had to have surgery, she said.   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>