Legendary artist Ike Turner has died aged 76. Turner is best known for his recordings with former wife, Tina Turner. Among them "Proud Mary", which was also recorded by Elvis.
Long before Elvis and Chuck Berry burst into the public eye, Turner was playing rock ‘n’ roll. Some people think he even invented it with the pummeling “Rocket 88” in 1951, recorded with his Kings of Rhythm at Sam Phillips’ Sun studio in Memphis and spiked by Turner’s distorted guitar. The song, released on Chicago-based Chess Records and released under the name of the singer, Jackie Brenston, established a pattern for Turner’s career: He would always be the man behind the scenes, a crucial but often unrecognized cog in the development of blues, R&B, rock ‘n’ roll and soul over the next three decades.
“Blues men in America, we were outcasts,” he said in a 2001 interview with the Tribune. “All of our lives, since I was born, we were outcasts. Before the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds came along --- it had to come from whites in England for America to appreciate what we did.”
Turner was also quoted as saying he made $60.00 for doing "Rocket 88". In an interview with Record Collector magazine earlier this year, Turner spoke briefly about meeting Elvis during his Sun days.
From the UK's Daily Telegraph:
In 1952, Elvis Presley was a Memphis truck driver. Ike Turner was a budding musician performing in the black section of the city. Turner recalls that the future legend "was just a white boy that would come over to black clubs. He would come in and stand behind the piano and watch me play. I never knew he was no musician."
Ike Turner, with Tina, his wife in the Sixties: 'Elvis would watch me play. I never knew he was no musician'
But neither did Presley appreciate that Turner was the man who had, a year earlier, recorded what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame now recognises as the first rock and roll single: Rocket 88, attributed on the label to Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats.
It was 20 years after recording Rocket 88 that Ike Turner and Elvis Presley met again, this time in Las Vegas. Turner was unaware that the "King of Rock and Roll" was the same man who, in the early 1950s, had stolen into the segregated black venue in Memphis to watch him perform.
But as they approached each other in a corridor of the International Hotel, says Turner, "Elvis Presley walks up and says, 'Hey! Do you remember me?' "