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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Clarksdale in Coahoma County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Ike Turner

 
 
Ike Turner Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
1. Ike Turner Marker (Front)
Inscription.
Front
Rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm & blues pioneer Ike Turner began his career playing blues and boogie woogie piano in Clarksdale. Turner was born less than a mile south-west of this site, at 304 Washington Avenue in the Riverton neighborhood, on November 5, 1931. In his pre-teen years he got a job here at the Hotel Alcazar, where he operated the elevator and did janitorial work. Turner later rose to fame as a deejay, producer, and leader of the Kings of Rhythm band and the Ike & Tina Turner Revue.

Rear
Ike Turner, a perfectionist driven to create, take charge, and succeed, filled many roles during an illustrious but controversial career. Although best known for his turbulent years with Tina Turner in the 1960s and ‘70s, he had already emerged as an important musical figure while still a teenager in Clarksdale, years before the Ike & Tina phenomenon began.

His father, Izear Luster Turner, a carpenter, railroad employee and preacher, died when Ike was seven, and he went to work to help his mother, seamstress Beatrice Turner. When she bought him a piano, Turner ditched formal lessons to listen to blues pianist Pinetop Perkins and later earned a spot playing in Robert Nighthawk’s band in local juke joints and on WROX radio. After watching WROX announcers John Friskillo and Early Wright,
Ike Turner Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
2. Ike Turner Marker (Rear)
Turner launched his own career as a deejay. He also joined the Top Hatters, a band of youngsters trained by Clarksdale dentist Dr. Eugene Mason, before founding the Kings of Rhythm. The Kings of Rhythm at times included Clarksdale area musicians Raymond Hill, Jackie Brenston, Johnny O’Neal, Willie “Bad Boy” Sims, Edward Nash, Eugene Fox, Clayton Love, Ernest Lane, and Willie Kizart, as well as Ike’s cousin, C. V. Veal, nephew Jesse Knight, Jr., and wives or girlfriends Bonnie Turner and Annie Mae Wilson.

In March of 1951 Turner took the group to Memphis , where they recorded several songs including the No. 1 R&B hit often regarded as the first rock ‘n’ roll record, “Rocket ‘88’,” featuring Jackie Brenston on vocals with the band credited as the Delta Cats. Turner busily arranged for other artists, including Howlin’ Wolf, Elmore James, and Little Milton, to record for Chess, Sun, Modern, and other labels during the next few years at various sites around the South, often traveling with the Bihari brothers of Modern Records. He also produced sessions in Clarksdale at WROX, at the Greyhound bus maintenance shop, and in his own studio.

In between stays in West Memphis, Memphis, and Sarasota, Florida, Turner continued to use Clarksdale as a home base before relocating to East St. Louis in 1954 and then moving to California. He continued to
View of photos on rear of marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
3. View of photos on rear of marker.
Click on photo for closeups
front new configurations of the Kings of Rhythm and became better known as an explosive guitarist and creator of the popular Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Later publicity surrounding his abusive relationship with Tina, drug addiction, and a prison term permanently scarred Turner’s image, but he managed a comeback with the support of the international blues community. He was elected to both the Blues and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame and won a Grammy for his final CD, Risin’ With the Blues, in 2007. Turner died in San Marcos, California, on December 12, 2007.
 
Erected 2010 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 111.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
 
Location. 34° 12.094′ N, 90° 34.408′ W. Marker is in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in Coahoma County. Marker is at the intersection of 3rd Street and Yahoo Avenue, on the left when traveling east on 3rd Street. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 127 3rd Street, Clarksdale MS 38614, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. WROX Radio (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival (about 400 feet away); Delta Blues Museum
New Alcazar Hotel - Former WROX Radio location image. Click for full size.
By Google Street View
4. New Alcazar Hotel - Former WROX Radio location
The New Alcazar Hotel was built in 1915. The building was designed by Charles O. Pfeil in a Classical Revival style. In earlier years the hotel also was the host to the local radio station WROX, a station where many blues artist got their start. While WROX was located at the Alcazar a young boy, Ike Turner, was the elevator operator. He became fascinated by the operation of the radio station and soon at the the age of eight, he began to spin records for the station. This early exposure was Ike Turner's start in his music career.
(about 400 feet away); W. C. Handy (about 500 feet away); Wade Walton (about 500 feet away); Carnegie Public Library (approx. 0.2 miles away); Sam Cooke (approx. 0.2 miles away); Clarksdale (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Clarksdale.
 
Also see . . .
1. Wikipedia article on Ike Turner. (Submitted on October 28, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. Ike Turner Biography. (Submitted on October 28, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
View from marker north on Yazoo Avenue image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
5. View from marker north on Yazoo Avenue
Paramount Theatre in background.
View of 3rd Street and Yazoo Avenue intersection. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, October 18, 2015
6. View of 3rd Street and Yazoo Avenue intersection.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 215 times since then and 22 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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