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Tuesday, June 29, 1999 Published at 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK


Ike Turner talks back

Ike Turner was half of one of rock music's legendary partnerships. Accused by his former wife, Tina Turner, of years of physical abuse, he is now trying to clear his name. He talks to Tim Sebastian about his life with Tina, his drug torment and his hopes for the future.

Ike Turner: "I love Tina today"
"Ike and Tina were like salt and pepper - two things that go together, we were magic together, no matter what idea I got, we could pull it off," says Ike. "I think we was a good team."

Now 67, Ike is guarded these days when it comes to complimenting his ex-wife.

"I think she did great. I love Tina today, once you love somebody you always love them, but I don't like her."

Ike Turner grew up in the poor and heavily segregated town of Clarksdale, Mississippi, the son of a baptist minister, who was murdered by a racist mob when Ike was just four years old.

His stepfather continued the pattern of violence until Ike ran away from home and joined a group of musicians.

[ image: Ike Turner was a musician in his own right before he met Tina]
Ike Turner was a musician in his own right before he met Tina
A skilled guitar and piano player, Ike went on to become a prolific session player, contributing to records by blues legends Elmore James, Howlin' Wolf and Otis Rush.

In 1951 he played piano on Jackie Brenston's Rocket 88, which is often cited as one of the very first rock and roll records.

Ike also spent his time touring bars and pool halls in the South, scouting for talented musicians including one Annie Mae Bullock. Ike recruited her in St Louis and they married in 1958.

As Ike and Tina Turner, they became one of the most influential musical acts of the 60s, with hits such as It's Gonna Work Out Fine (1961) and River Deep Mountain High (1966), followed by Nutbush City Limits in 1973.

Ike Turner: "The drugs started in 1970"
But in the early seventies, Ike developed a multi-million dollar cocaine habit.

"It started off as fun and then it's no fun any more - you wake up living for it," said Ike, who began to physically abuse his wife.

"I did a lot of wrong things during the time I was doing drugs," he says.

Ike Turner: "I did a lot of wrong things"
"I did a lot of wrong things but I don't think that I'm a bad person and I can't undo what's been done, all I can do is say I'm sorry."

After years of abuse, infidelity and drug addiction, Tina left Ike in 1976 and went on to forge a successful solo career.

In 1990 he was sent to jail for his addiction, which he now claims was: "The best thing that ever happened to me."

[ image:  ]
Now rehabilitated and into his 13th marriage, Ike claims he has "a very happy life" and wants to concentrate on his music career.

He is also committed to clearing his name, something he hopes to do through his autobiography, Takin' Back My Name.

"I just want my personal life to be personal and I want the public to know me for my music because that's what it's really about," says Ike.

"If you don't know me then you're doing yourself an injustice because I'm a good person."

You can watch the HARDtalk interview in full on Tuesday 29 June on BBC World at 1930 GMT and in the UK on BBC News 24 at 2030 and 0330 BST.

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