Ike Turner to be honored in Clarksdale Walk of Fame

Press release from the Sunflower River Blues and gospel Festival, May 2010, Panny Mayfield, publicist, pannywriter@yahoo.com


Dedication set during Sunflower Blues Fest

 Born in Clarksdale Nov. 5, 1931, to Beatrice Cushenberry, a seamstress, and Izear Luster Turner, a Baptist minister, Ike Turner, grew up around music before recording “Rocket 88,” the world’s first Rock and Roll record, and achieving international fame as the major link between Mississippi Delta blues and Rock and Roll music.

As an eight-year-old elevator boy in the downtown Alcazar Hotel, Ike began spinning records on WROX, the local radio station located on the second floor. He carried amplifiers for blues celebrity Robert Nighthawk, learned to play boogie-woogie piano from Pinetop Perkins, and organized an early band, the Top Hatters, composed of Clarksdale musicians who describe Ike as a super organizer, a perfectionist, an impresario.

In 1951 Turner and his group called the Delta Cats including Jackie Brenston Raymond Hill, and others recorded “Rocket 88” at Sun Studios with Sam Phillips in Memphis. After Phillips sent the recording to Chess Records for release, the record sky-rocketed to Number 1 on Billboard charts.

Moving to West Memphis and St. Louis, the piano man who organized the Kings of Rhythm, expanded his career with guitar expertise, worked as a talent scout, and record producer, met Annie Mae Bullock, renamed her Tina Turner, and formed the explosive Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

In 1997 Turner, Little Milton, and the Ikettes earned rave reviews as they headlined the 10th annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale. Spanning a career that lasted half a century until his death in 2007, Ike is identified with a broad repertoire including blues, soul, rock, and funk. He won two Grammy Awards, and in 1991 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with his former wife, Tina Turner.

Clarksdale’s Walk of Fame is a project of the Clarksdale/Coahoma Chamber of Commerce. The Ike Turner plaque is being sponsored by the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors.