Jet Magazine: Ike Turner Memorial (January 14, 2008)
Musical tributes honor Ike Turner’s legacy at funeral
Ike Turner once told JET that “music is my life.” So it came as no surprise that Turner’s funeral was at times a musical tribute with hundreds of family members and close friends rocking, rolling and remembering him.
A video tribute began the service at the City of Refuge Church in Gardena, CA. Then Turner’s legendary band the Kings of Rhythm kicked off a musical prelude that began with the song “Caldonia”, which Turner played during every show.
Things started to warm up when the band played “Rocket 88”, a song recorded by Turner in 1951 that became acclaimed as music’s first Rock ‘N’ Roll song (JET, Jan. 7). The crowd jumped to its feet during “Nutbush City Limits” and “Proud Mary”.
“Daddy wouldn’t want any of us crying,” said daughter Mia Turner, who read reflections along with a cousin. “He would want us to throw a party.”
Turner, 76, died Dee. 12 in his home in San Marcos, CA. Last summer he told JET he had been battling emphysema since 1994.
Longtime friend Little Richard, another trailblazing rocker, began the testimonials by recalling when he first heard the Kings of Rhythm and how the music “made my big toe shoot up in my boot.” He recalled how he later took the introduction to “Rocket 88” and “made a huge hit” with “Good Golly Miss Molly”. Little Richard, 75, told how Ike once helped him save his house by giving him $3,500. “I just paid him back five or six years ago,” he said as the crowd laughed. “Shut up,” Little Richard quipped.
Little Richard showed support for Turner, who was noted for his drug addiction and domestic abuse in the 1993 film What’s Love Got To Do With It. “Stop holding this mess-whatever it is- against this man. Even Jesus forgives and he will forget.”
Music producer Phil Spector, who produced “River Deep-Mountain High”, sent flowers that said of Ike Turner, “You are and always will be the greatest in the world.” Spector also gave special remarks at the funeral, saying “Ike made Tina the jewel she was” and calling the biopic film a “piece of trash,” pointing out its inaccuracies about his dealings with Ike. Spector even told how he fought to keep Ike’s name on “River Deep-Mountain High”, to which Ike didn’t contribute. Spector said that record execs didn’t want Ike’s name associated with it.
Turner’s son, Ike Jr., spoke and told how he last worked with his dad on the 2007 Grammy® Award-winning Risin’ With the Blues album. “He was tired, but he was happy. He knew … He’s had a fruitful life,” his son said.
Tina Turner, who was with Ike for 16 years before divorcing in 1978, did not attend the funeral. Her sister, Alline, reportedly still considered Ike like a “brother” and showed up for the service.
Ronald “Ronnie” Turner, Ike and Tina Turner’s only child together, told JET: “I loved my father very much. He’s done a lifetime achievement. You can talk 5 or l0 minutes about the bad he’s done. You can talk all night about the achievements he’s had. He was successful with my morn and after my morn. He won a Grammy® before he died. That’s a lifetime achievement.”
A day before the funeral, visitation was held at Los Angeles’ Angelus Funeral Home. Turner’s celebrated music filled the chapel along with unreleased songs.
“I genuinely liked him,” said Blues harmonica player Bob Corritore, who flew in from Phoenix to pay tribute to the musician whom he had met six years ago. “I found him to be charming, fun-loving, humorous, well-spoken, and a completely class-act guy.”
Just as the funeral began with music, it ended the same way. Mourners left to the sounds of a marching horn and drum ensemble.
The pioneering musician was to be cremated.
Ike Turner is also survived by another daughter, Twanna.
-By Margena A. Christian