Unsung is still one of TV’s most popular music documentary shows so what better time for its return than Black Music Month? This season features legendary soul man Otis Redding, rapper DJ Quik, go-go superstar Chuck Brown, Xscape, and in its first episode, Ike Turner. Turner’s episode airs on Wednesday night at at 8 p.m. EST.
Some people may question how Turner, the notorious soul legend who, with his wife Tina Turner, brought Southern soul to the masses with explosive live performances and classic hits like “Proud Mary.” Ike Turner’s musical legacy has been outstripped by his former wife’s success after their breakup and his reputation as her abuser. But in his Unsung episode, we learn more about the man and his importance to Black music.
“I think he’s completely misunderstood from the movie What’s Love Got To Do With It,” says D’Angela Proctor, the Senior VP Of Programming and Production for TV One. “While a lot of the stuff in there rings somewhat true, there’s also his side of the story as well. And when the movie came out, he didn’t help his case by saying ‘I only hit her once’ or ‘I only hit her with my fist once.’ But he actually has a compelling story and he’s credited with recording the first rock and roll song and that makes him Unsung.”
Ike Turner died in 2007, so there is a lot of archival footage from his days with Tina. His children, former members of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue and others combine to tell his story.
“What was really the most interesting thing was the two people who introduced him to cocaine were Redd Foxx and Elvis Presley in Vegas,” Proctor says. “He took to it, because he didn’t sleep a lot [anyway] but once he took to it, he stayed awake for days so he could focus on music.”
Tina Turner is in Unsung as well, via archival footage from her past interviews. As far as his abuse, Proctor says that some of what shaped him will be revealed in the doc.
Click the link above to hear the entire interview!