RIP “They made me the beast that I’m not”
posted by December 14 at 14:42 PMon
We have a GREAT obituary for Ike Turner coming out next week. The author is Stan Becker, a longtime music journalist who interviewed Ike at the Menís Colony State Prison in San Luis Obispo in 1991, where he was doing time for parole violation after his 11th drug-related arrest. Becker’s original interview piece—written for the Chicago Tribune—was 3,000-some words long, far longer than the space we can allow in The Stranger. Some highlights:
“I think I was on a 15-year party,” Turner says. “Everybody who goes through cocaine wants to quit, but stopping is harder than you think.” Turner spent almost $25,000 on drug-rehab programs but contends: “None of this stuff don’t really do no good, man. First of all, you have to make up your mind to quit. I never did drugs till I was 44 years old. I used to fire people if I caught them with even a roach, and now I got a hole in my nose that you could put your ink pen in.”
He first took cocaine while playing the lounge at the International Hotel in Las Vegas with Redd Foxx in the casino and Elvis headlining the main room. “Two very famous people came backstage; one of them is dead now,” he remembers. “These two guys gave me some coke in a dollar. I went home, and after Tina and all the kids went to sleep, I sat down at the piano and put some in my nose.
“I didn’t feel nothing. I didn’t think I ever got high. I was just sitting there writing and the next thing I know it’s 11 o’clock in the morning and I’m still writing. I thought, `This is cool, man, I’m not even tired!’ So I just went on to liking it. I had it sitting out in big bowls. I used to give away $50,000 of that stuff every six weeks.”
Although it has been 14 years since the breakup of his marriage to Tina, the memories are fresh, and a bond, however convoluted and strained, is apparent. “I love Tina, but I don’t like her today,” Turner says. “She is not what you think, man. She’s got more nerve than anybody. She says she was brainwashed.” He shakes his head. “I don’t know where this (expletive) comes from, man. Before me, Tina was a nurse’s aide,” he says pointedly. “She’s said this (expletive) so much she’s begun to believe it herself.”
“In our whole life we only had six or seven fights. I’m not violent,” he says, defensive and unrepentant. “I had a temper” is his only concession to Tina’s memories of the beatings. Several times during the interview, however, he mentions how the “old Ike” would have handled this or that.
What, he is asked, would he say to Tina if she were in the room right now? He pauses for a long time. “Don’t forget where you came from,” he says softly. “For her to forget… things like this hurt me.”
Becker also forwarded a YouTube video of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, filmed for TV appearance sometime in the early 1960s. HOLY SHIT THIS SMOKES:
I was kind of unaware of just how blazingly hot Ike and Tina and the band were. This video makes everything clear.