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A Fool in Love - Ike and Tina Turner

In the obituaries for Tina Turner, who died in May earlier this year at the age of 83, she is often quoted as saying she was a rock singer as opposed to a soul singer. While I hate to disagree with the recently departed, her first hit, and the first record released under the name "Ike and Tina Turner", way back in 1960, "A Fool in Love", tells a different story.

Even though nearly all of Tina Turner's hits were written by a variety of other people, beginning with Ike himself, through to various UK based songwriters from the 80's onward that included Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman, Graham Lyle, Terry Britten, Mark Knopfler and Lulu, they, more often than not, uncannily mirror the tribulations of her turbulent life.

While Ike Turner was known to be a good judge of musicians and music, - he was after all a longtime band leader, an A&R man, (ie talent scout for a record label), a songwriter and a producer - he serially overlooked Tina, the woman who was to make him famous. When the teenage Tina and her sister, having frequently attended gigs by Ike and his Rhythm Kings, were going out with the band's saxophonist Raymond Hill and drummer Eugene Washington respectively, they found themselves residing in the same house as Ike, who liked his band members to lodge together. Tina took the opportunity to ask if she could audition as singer for the band. Ike kept putting her off despite recommendations by Hill and Washington, until one evening she grabbed the mic herself, and made such a good impression that Ike took her on. He was then reluctant to record her singing lead, once again despite suggestions by bandmembers, until, four years later, in 1960, he was due to record one of his own songs, "A Fool in Love" with one Art Lassiter, who failed to show up for the recording session. As he was paying for the studio, Ike decided to record a demo of the record, but even then he had to be persuaded by Tina, there as a backing singer, to let her take the lead on it.

By this time, Tina and Ike were lovers and she was pregnant by him but Ike still failed to see Tina's potential. By chance he played the demo track in the interval of a Rhythm Kings' show, and a local deejay heard it and persuaded him to send it to the head of Sue Records, who, in turn, immediately bought the rites and released it as a single. Tina, up till then known as Little Ann (her real name was Anna Mae Bullock), was rechristened Tina Turner, even though she and Ike weren't married, and the single was a smash, reaching number 28 in the US charts, and 2 in the US R&B top ten.

Despite himself, and after fourteen years of trying, Ike had become a success, thanks, in no small way, to Tina.

Ike and Tina did get married two years later in 1962. Tina's 1986 autobiography and the subsequent film based on it, "What's Love Got to Do with It", described a stormy marriage and her suffering throughout years of controlling and violent behaviour at the hands of Ike, giving the words of "A Fool in Love" a strangely prescient feel, right from the opening lines:

"There's something on my mind -

won't somebody please, please tell me what's wrong"

These are Ike's words, and even in those very different times, he's an abuser hiding in plain sight:

"....You take the good along with the bad,

sometimes you're happy and sometimes you're sad,

you know you love him, you can't understand

why he treats you like he do when he's such a good man...."

Like many a violent male partner before him, and since, it is his cold understanding of how to exploit his power in the relationship that make the words so chilling. But Tina's raw delivery shows she has the guts for the fight, a fight which saw her gain her freedom with their divorce 18 years later.

So this is soul, sung all the way from deep down, telling a truth that maybe even the 21 year old Tina Turner only unconsciously understood. Along with Mary Wells' "Bye Bye Baby"( ), released later the same year, this has got to be the most impassioned and storming first single by any female singer, soul, rock or otherwise.


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