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The Late Ike Turner Speaks

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Ike Turner, who died of thus far unreported causes on December 12 in Southern California, was one of the most divisive figures in popular music. "Rocket 88," which plenty of observers peg as the first-ever rock-and-roll song, was largely his creation despite it being credited to Jackie Brenston, and he helped discover blues giants such as B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf. Yet he's best known to the current generation as a drug-addled meglomaniac who brutally mistreated his wife, Tina Turner, thanks to her best-selling autobiography, I Tina, and the film What's Love Got to Do With It, in which he was portrayed as a combustible, dead-eyed sadist by Laurence Fishburne.

Back in 1999, Ike spoke at length to Westword contributor Marty Jones, and during their conversation, he tried to present a more nuanced self-portrait. "No, man, that movie was not accurate -- no parts of it," he said, "That was not me at all. A lot of people judged me from that movie, and I'm nothing like that movie. I'm not saying that I didn't do some wrong things; I did. You can't work together and live together and be around somebody 24 hours a day and not have your arguments -- you know, your fights and stuff like that. But it betrayed, uh, portrayed me in a total wrong light."

To read the entire piece, click here. -- Michael Roberts

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.