Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mystery Train (12-17-07): Ike Turner, RIP

From Deep Blues, by Robert Palmer:

One March afternoon in 1951, a Delta highway patrolman spotted a flagrantly overloaded sedan wallowing up Highway 61 toward Memphis. Seven black teenagers were crammed inside, and a string bass, three saxophones, a guitar and amplifier, and a set of drums were partly crammed in with them and partly lashed to the vehicle’s roof. The patrolman pulled out onto the highway and turned on his siren, and as the sedan shuddered to an ungainly halt on the shoulder, several pieces of the equipment, including the guitar amp [!], tumbled off the roof and onto the ground.

Eighteen-year-old Ike Turner, the ringleader of the group, was a Clarksdale native and something of a personality around town. He worked as a disc jockey for Clarksdale’s WROX, spinning records by nationally popular local performers, and he played piano with Delta bluesmen like Robert Nighthawk. His band, the Kings of Rhythm, was a popular local attraction. The group played jumping dance music, including versions of the latest r&b hits, and were popular with some white teenagers as well as younger blacks. The handsome, pencil-moustached Turner was already a charmer. He explained to the patrolman that he and his band were on their way to Memphis to make their first record. This was their big chance! Only a cop with a heart of stone would have denied them their shot at the big time, and before long they were back on the road, having tied their gear to the top of the car more securely.

That busted guitar amp gave birth to the fuzzed-out sound that many identify as rock and roll. And so this episode of Mystery Train is dedicated to the memory of a mover and a shaker.

Featuring Ike Turner, Bonnie Turner, Tina Turner, JW Walker, Clayton Love, Jackie Brenston, Dale Hawkins, Babs Gonzales, Nellie Lutcher, Big Maybelle, Jimmy Rushing, and many more.

No comments: