Thursday, December 13, 2007
It has long been an item of faith with me that Ike Turner recorded the first rock'n'roll record-- "Rocket 88", with the Kings of Rhythm at Sun Studio in 1951, under the name Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats. Just last night I read in Dave Marsh's Rock'N'Roll Confidential that some historians say that Roy Brown's 1948 single, "Good Rocking Tonight" deserves the title, and this morning I learned that Ike is dead. Poor son of a bitch, he will be remembered for being an abusive husband, instead of for being one of the inventors of an American art form. I don't doubt that he was an abusive bastard, but that hardly makes him unique among artists, and few artists can claim to be the originators of a form the way Turner was. It seems to me that there is a racial element to the fact that it is Turner's brutality that is called up when we speak of him, rather than his accomplishments, and although I'm not inclined to adhere to the rule that one should not speak ill of the dead, in this instance I'd say that there will not be enough said about "Proud Mary" or "River Deep-Mountain High" or the other positive things he brought to the world.