Yeah, that’s the title. ‘Cause while we appropriately condemned him for the widely disseminated accounts of abuse he bombarded on the great Tina Turner, we have forgotten his real place in rock ‘n’ roll history.
Ike Turner was a key figure in rock ‘n’ roll in the early 1950s. He was a performer, a businessman with his own band, the Kings of Rhythm, and a talent scout, for RPM/Modern Records, as well as the legendary Sam Phillips. He recorded everyone from Howlin’ Wolf, B.B. King, Johnny Ace, Otis Rush and Bobby “Blue” Bland during this period. Before that he was a DJ for WROX radio in Clarksdale, Mississippi.
But his real importance lies in his recording in 1951 of what Sam Phillips christened “the first rock ‘n’ roll record”: “Rocket 88.” In production from 1949 to 1960, Oldsmobile’s Rocket 88 really ushered in the muscle car era. It had a V8, 303 cubic inch engine with 135 horses, which was powerful for its time in the consumer market. The body was designed to mimic the space age, which was happening at the time. Turner did “Rocket 88” with his Kings of Rhythm, but the cut was credited to Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats. Brenston, a saxophonist who came up with the song, did the vocals. After it was done in his Sun studio, Phillips leased the cut to Chess Records, and the rest is history.
Then Ike Turner met Tina.