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In defense of Ike Turner

Poor Ike Turner. The guy supposedly invented rock and roll and yet, now that he’s died, all anyone can think to say about him is that he beat the shit out of Tina Turner.

Even as TMZ was announcing that he had died, they were all like, Ike Turner, who used to beat the shit out of Tina Turner, has died. Some of the stories I’ve read since then have basically been like, Yeah, Ike Turner invented rock and roll, but you know what? Fuck him. Look what he did to Tina Turner.


It makes you wonder: What would Ike Turner have to have done so that he’d be remembered foremost as something other than a heinous wife-abuser. Cured cancer? Brokered peace between Israel and Palestine?

Not that I’m excusing what he did to Tina, assuming what was depicted in the awesome film What’s Love Got to Do With It? was true – which, for all we know, it might no be. I don’t condone beating the shit out of a woman, unless you absolutely have to.

But I wonder: Is beating the shit out of your wife a crime so heinous that you should only be remembered as if you were a Nazi war criminal or somebody? And would this even be an issue if Ike Turner was white? Hater that I am, of course my answer to both questions is a resounding no.

I know, pulling out the race card at a moment like this is some ol’ Al Sharpton shit, but whatever. I feel like it’s applicable in this case.

Take for example the aforementioned Ike and Tina Turner film. If you notice, it isn’t even mentioned anywhere in the film that Ike Turner invented rock and roll. I wouldn’t even have known this had it not been mentioned in YN’s post the other day, and as a damn near footnote in several of the guy’s obits.

No, to hear the film tell it, he was just some bum who exploited Tina for her talent, forced himself on her, beat the shit out of her, then took her for everything she had (except for his own last name) in a divorce settlement. But fortunately, some white guy in Germany came along and helped turn her life around.


When you put it like that, if you notice, the shit almost sounds like the plot to Birth of a Nation, but with Tina Turner playing the role of the innocent white girl, preyed upon by the savage black buck, only to be saved by a cracka-ass knight in shining armor.

Coincidence? Given this country’s history with race relations and the way black men have been depicted in the media over the years, not to mention lingering issues with regard to the invention of rock and roll and white people’s “appropriation” of it as an artform, I’d have to say no.

At any rate, I can hardly imagine a film in which a white pioneer of rock and roll is thrown under the bus like that. And you know pretty much all of those motherfuckers are guilty of something.

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