Picks and Pans Review: I, Tina
by Tina Turner with Kurt Loder
Life as Ike Turner's meal ticket was no picnic. He was promiscuous, violent and hard-driving—having figured out early on that the Ike and Tina Turner Revue could be profitable even without the hit record that always seemed to elude them, if they just kept slogging through those club dates. Night after night, year after year, Tina would climb onstage and belt it out, often heavily made up to hide the evidence of Ike's most recent workout with fists or coat hangers. Why did she stay so long—17 years? In I, Tina, Turner and Loder, a Rolling Stone writer-editor, try to answer that question, with mixed success. It helps to know, for example, that—before cocaine turned him into a vicious paranoid—Ike did have his charms. He could be generous when it suited him (dazzlingly so to a hayseed 16-year-old just arrived in racy East St. Louis). And Ike knew his music, though he was the last to see that Tina's true talent lay not in "screaming and screeching" (as she describes her early style), but in a more lyric, heartfelt rock. Still, it's a shock to find out that this symbol of searing sexual awareness has had such a miserable—and limited—history with men. "I came to look at the man in my life as dessert," she writes. "Everything else has come...I can wait." Her apotheosis from cowed, unsophisticated "little Ann"—she was born Anna Mae Bullock—who used to give Ike his pedicures, to the seemingly serene demigoddess of today seems pat too. Read this book for a nicely written, well-researched retrospective on rock life in and out of the big time. (For example, when white blues singer Bonnie Bramlett was briefly an Ikette, she wore Man-Tan to make her look black.) It's also a gossipy if somewhat star-struck account of how the rock pantheon rallied to Tina's side in post-Ike years; she's particularly grateful to Mick Jagger, Mark Knopfler and David Bowie. Don't expect a true feminist parable, though, a tale of modern woman finding herself. Try as she does, Turner doesn't shed much light on the psychology of a battered wife. (Morrow, $16.95)
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