So Ike Turner died yesterday at the age of 76. I don't have much to say about him, but what I can say is that I really enjoyed reading Louis Theroux's (of TV Nation) interview with him in his 2005 book of interviews, "The Call of the Weird: Travels in American Subcultures". His account of the cinematically beleaguered musician shed so much light into this complex and troubled man's inner workings. Not to say that the interview makes you want to like him, but I felt like I understood his personality a great deal after reading it.
Theroux explains how he was trying to interview Turner for a documentary, but even a delicate, casual mention of his past with Tina Turner would send the man into a shitfit. But Theroux warily prods on, effectively learning how to manage his interactions with Turner.
Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
I learned how to be around him, how to maintain eye contact, and be encouraging and supportive...In truth, I began feeling a little like Tina, which may be the fate of everyone who spends time with Ike...A great part of Ike's control of people comes from his excessive sensitivity: that the vulnerability I'd noticed on the first day was also the source of his power, because those around him can feel his sensitivity and they feel protective. I felt it too and wondered if I was falling under his spell.
I could film him but ask no questions; I could travel with him but not film; and then one day in New York word came that he'd had enough...he was a walking spider's web of nerves.
Back in London, a few weeks later, I got a plaintive stammering call of apology. "I don't want you to never feel I mistreated you," he said. "I want you to please forgive me, man. If you can find it in your heart. I wouldn't abuse our relationship for anything in the world. I value it too much. I just had too much pressure, you know? And I just couldn't take no mo'."
The chapter goes on discussing Ike's past "orgying" in the 70s, as well as his claim that he lost his virginity at age six. Ike displays some truly unsavory character traits to be sure, but all in all, you begin to understand the man and despise him just a little less.