Today’s entry could be called “The Day Ike Turner Almost Played Pomona.” It happened like this.
In March 2004, Turner was booked to play the Yesteryears nightclub in downtown Pomona. Seeing his name on a poster in the club window was a real sight. I didn’t go, I think because none of my friends could be persuaded to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer given how he’d treated Tina, even if he was also responsible for “Rocket 88,” often called the first rock and roll record.
In a column later in the year, I mentioned Turner as being one of the few Hall of Famers to have played Pomona. A musician in one of that evening’s warmup acts then informed me Turner was a no-show.
“He let ’em know a few days ahead of time he wouldn’t be there and that he’d cashed the check,” the musician told me.
I thought I’d better confirm the item before running with it, so I called the club owner. He was reluctant to say anything negative about Turner, noting correctly that most of the early blues and rock musicians were treated shabbily by record companies and promoters and cheated out of their earnings.
At this point I realized I wouldn’t get an anecdote, a funny comment or, at this rate, even confirmation. So, thinking fast, I came up with an approach I’m still rather proud of.
“How about this,” I said. “If I write in the newspaper that Ike Turner was paid in advance and didn’t show up, would I be wrong?”
No, you wouldn’t, he admitted.
Whew. That settled, I went with the Ike Turner story. Turner, as you may have heard, died Wednesday at age 76. Wherever his troubled spirit is supposed to go, may it show up.