But the 76-year-old's prodigious musical legacy was forever tarnished by his image as the drug-addicted, brutally abusive former husband of Tina Turner.
Turner, known with his ex-wife for such songs as "River Deep, Mountain High" and "Proud Mary," died Wednesday at his suburban home. No cause of death was immediately given.
In her 1987 autobiography, "I, Tina," Tina Turner narrated a harrowing tale of abuse, including suffering a broken nose.
Ike Turner was hauntingly portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It," based on Tina Turner's autobiography.
In a 2001 AP interview, he denied his ex-wife's claims of abuse and expressed frustration that he had been demonized in the media while his historic role in rock's beginnings had been ignored.
Prodigious musical legacy
"You can go ask Snoop Dogg or Eminem, you can ask the Rolling Stones or (Eric) Clapton, or you can ask anybody — anybody, they all know my contribution to music, but it hasn't been in print about what I've done or what I've contributed until now," he said.
Turner, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is credited by many rock historians with making the first rock 'n' roll record, "Rocket 88," in 1951. Produced by the legendary Sam Phillips, it was groundbreaking for its use of distorted electric guitar.
"I see Ike Turner in the company of James Brown and Count Basie as being supremely gifted band leaders, and I say that with no sense of exaggeration," said Tom "Papa" Ray, who co-owns an independent music store in St. Louis and for 20 years has hosted a local blues and soul radio show.
Turner's profile grew after he met 18-year-old Anna Mae Bullock in 1959. He quickly made the husky-voiced woman the lead singer of his group, refashioning her into the sexy Tina Turner.
Tina Turner declined to comment on her ex-husband's death.