Home » Jazz Musicians » Ike Turner

Ike Turner

2001 marked the Golden Anniversary of a GOLD Record from an Era when Fifty-thousand 45’s was a BIG Seller. That 500K-selling single cut the edge of a new style before deejay Alan Freed named it: ROCK & ROLL. Sam Phillips, Sun Studios founder, tagged that Billboard #1 R&B Smash as the very first "Rock & Roll Recording". Every hell-raiser, hip-shaker, and hit-maker owes a nod to that teenager recognized by Rock historians as the "Father of Rock & Roll".

That Billboard bullet, "Rocket 88", was penned by a 19-year old boogie-woogie boy and his back-up band, "The Kings of Rhythm", for their first Sun Studios session in March 1951. B.B. King introduced the kid to Phillips, but he did not have a song - yet. So, on that rainy ride up Highway 61 to Memphis with their gear strapped on top, inspiration and lightening struck. The first muscle car - a highway cruiser - the hot, new, Oldsmobile "Rocket 88" was the subject and title of that historic #1 Hit. His lead vocalist, Jackie Brensten, and his side band, "The Delta Cats", were mistakenly credited with the song by Chess Records, who released it. But those that know Rock history know The Kings of Rhythm were the real rockers toiling in the shadows of their own success. That kid is referred to by Little Richard as "The Man". B.B. King proudly echoes, "He’s the best band leader I‘ve ever seen." The kid who became "The Man" is Ike Turner.

Turner full-tilt boogies throughout his Golden Anniversary record, "Here and Now". His first commercial release in 23 years, this Ikon Records debut received rave critical acclaim and a GRAMMY Nomination for BEST TRADTIONAL BLUES ALBUM in 2001. Likewise heralded by the 2002 W.C. HANDY BLUES AWARDS as a masterpiece, Turner was lauded with COMEBACK ALBUM OF THE YEAR AWARD and Nominated for BLUES ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR, SOUL/BLUES MALE ARTIST OF THE YEAR, and SOUL/BLUES ALBUM OF THE YEAR.

Better known for his signature whammy-bar guitar, the bedazzling piano-man surprises many with his recently re-discovered piano roots. Turner’s first mentor was the legendary boogie-boss Pinetop Perkins, now 89. Turner and Pinetop united for an electrifying, tear-filled piano duet at the 2001 Chicago Blues Festival filmed for the Martin Scorsese Series "The Blues: Godfathers and Sons" currently airing nationwide on PBS channels.

Prior to migrating up-river to East St. Louis in 1954, Turner was a house boogie-woogie man in West Memphis "blacks only" clubs. A young, white truck driver often snuck in and hid next to the piano to study Ike’s boogie style and woogie-wild legs. That kid was Elvis Presley. The list of historical sessions he’s led with the likes of Elmore James, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and a still continuing list of blues, rock, and R&B royalty is stunning. He is also noted for discovering, developing, and recording many legendary artists, such as Howlin ’ Wolf, Little Walter, Muddy Waters, and Little Milton.

Read more


Album Review
Read more articles
"[Turner] proved he’s one of the greatest bluesmen this nation has produced." --Letta Tayler, NY Newsday

"Clearly inspired, he switched from roadhouse keyboard to scorch guitar as the mood struck." --Billy Altman, Sonicnet

"[Turner’s] rollicking piano and guitar playing erase[d] doubts about his past." --Ann Powers, New York Times

Album Discography


B.B. King
guitar, electric
Howlin' Wolf
voice / vocals
Albert King
guitar, electric
Big Joe Turner
voice / vocals
Lowell Fulson
guitar, electric

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.