Eulogizing the Hitler of Rock Music

Dec. 12, 2007
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Awkward eulogies: Ike Turner's death yesterday has posed an uncomfortable dilemma for many publications: How, without being condescending, do you eulogize a man infamous for beating his wife? Here's a representative smattering of ledes published today:

• Ike Turner, a music legend who paired up with Tina Turner in St. Louis to form a superstar duo, then saw his reputation tarnished by his portrayal as a domineering abuser in a movie about her life, died Wednesday (Dec. 12, 2007) at his home near San Diego.

• The American musician Ike Turner has died at the age of 76. Turner was known as one of the architects of rock and roll music. But he will be best remembered for his musical and personal relationship with singer Tina Turner who accused him of subjecting her to years of abuse.

• Ike Turner, best remembered for his successful musical partnership and violently abusive marriage to singer Tina Turner, has died at home in California, his manager said Wednesday. He was 76.

• Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife Tina Turner, died Wednesday at 76. Yikes. So, in short, most intros read like this: "Orgelike Ike Turner, who brutally abused Tina Turner for years, died in his sleep Wednesday. He played rock music, but is best known as a monster. He was 76." As is often the case, the New York Times was the most tasteful. Their eulogy spends more time outlining his musical career than it does dwelling on the abuse allegations. Without sugarcoating his image, the article even concludes on a note of minor triumph, describing Turner's late-life activities, and his recent Grammy. Hall of Fame: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame surprised everyone by admitting some less-than-usual suspects this year. Among those padding their resumes: Madonna, John Mellencamp, Leonard Cohen, The Ventures, The Dave Clark Five and Little Walter, a semi-obscure blues harmonica master whose odds of getting into the Hall of Fame were about as low as the typical rap artist's. (Incidentally, The Beastie Boys were dissed.) Explosions at the Pabst: Explosions in the Sky, the increasingly popular instrumental post-rock band, are confirmed for an affordable, $11 show at the Pabst Theater on March 30th.


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