A Fool in Love
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|"A Fool in Love"|
|Single by Ike & Tina Turner|
|from the album The Soul of Ike & Tina Turner|
|A-side||"A Fool in Love"|
|B-side||"The Way You Love Me"|
|Format||7" vinyl single|
|Recorded||March 1960, St. Louis|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul|
|Ike & Tina Turner singles chronology|
"A Fool in Love" is an American rhythm and blues song by Ike & Tina Turner, released in 1960. Written by bandleader Ike Turner for a male vocalist, singer Art Lassiter, after Lassiter left Turner's band over financial arguments, his protege, "Little Ann" Bullock, sung the song from a female perspective under the assumption it would be a guide vocal. However, when Turner sent the record to New York, he was told to keep Bullock's vocals on, and release the record. It was Tina Turner's first professional release as a recording artist though she had been recording songs since 1958, when she joined Turner's band the Kings of Rhythm.
It was also the first national hit record for Ike Turner, who had recorded the hit "Rocket 88" a decade earlier with another singer but didn't receive proper credit and had spent much of his career as a successful but only regional act. One of the first rhythm and blues recordings to successfully cross over to the pop charts and later becoming a million-seller, it was deemed "the blackest record to ever crept into the Billboard Hot 100 since Ray Charles", according to Kurt Loder decades later. Ike Turner would spend years trying to match the song's success with similar productions to little success.
In 1956, Anna Mae Bullock was a 16-year-old girl who had moved from Brownsville, Tennessee to St. Louis to live with her mother and sister Alline. With Alline, Bullock frequented predominantly black nightclubs in East St. Louis, including Club Manhattan, which was headlined by 24-year-old bandleader Ike Turner, who had settled in the St. Louis era after moving from Memphis. Formerly a talent scout for other labels where he discovered artists such as B.B. King and Howlin' Wolf, Turner also wrote and played piano on the rhythm and blues track, "Rocket 88", which has been sometimes regarded as the "first rock and roll record". The track, rather than credited to Turner's band the Kings of Rhythm, was credited as "Jackie Brenston & His Daily Cats". Turner only received $20 for the recording after it hit number one on the R&B charts in 1951.
In both St. Louis and East St. Louis, Turner performed to both black and white audiences and became a local star in the areas. Despite his regional fame, Turner's recordings with the Kings of Rhythm failed to gained national attention. After first witnessing Turner, Bullock tried several times to get Turner's attention to get on the stage to show her vocal talents. Bullock finally got her chance when the band's drummer, boyfriend of Bullock's sister, gave her the microphone where she sang the B.B. King ballad, "You Know I Love You", while Turner, who played piano on the original version, was playing around with the track on piano during an intermission. Stunned by the teenager's unusual deep, raspy delivery, Turner asked Bullock if she knew other material. By the end of the night, Bullock was given a spot on Turner's band as one of many vocalists in his band, becoming the band's first female vocalist.
Bullock was renamed "Little Ann" by Turner due to her skinny frame, which was in contrast to her vocal delivery. Bullock tried in vain to become the main lead vocalist of the band, which was rebuffed to Turner having a bevy of other mostly male singers in his roster. Bullock's stage name was simply "Little Ann". Bullock eventually made her debut on a recording under the Little Ann moniker, singing along with another singer in the band, Carlson Oliver, in the song, "Box Top", which Turner led singing bass-baritone vocals, released on Tune Town Records in August of 1958 when Bullock was just 18.
In March of 1960, Turner took his band to Technosonic Studios in St. Louis after he had written the blues song titled "A Fool in Love" for singer Art Lassiter, who had just joined the group as lead singer. Lassiter's background vocalists Robbie Montgomery, Frances Hodges, and Sandra Harding were known as The Artettes and were present for the recording. But Lassiter failed to show up to the recording session to record the song. Ike Turner recalled that he had lended Lassiter $80 for new tires on his car; Lassiter never returned. It was later determined Lassiter had quit the Kings of Rhythm after several arguments with Turner over financial disputes. Turner then told 20-year-old Bullock, who knew the song from rehearsals, to record a guide track to act as a demo, giving the song more of a female perspective than the original lyrics from the male perspective, with the intention of erasing her vocals in the event that Lassiter would return to record. Bullock and the Artettes recorded the track, with Ike Turner contributing piano to the session.
Reaction and release
Lassiter never showed up to record the song and Turner responded by sending the song to several labels. After playing it for a local St. Louis radio deejay, the deejay sent the song to several labels, where it finally got notice from Juggy Murray, president of R&B label Sue Records, in New York. Murray was impressed by Bullock's vocals, calling them "funky" and "like raw, screaming dirt", that he told Turner to keep her vocals on the record, offering a $25,000 advance for the song, convinced of its hit potential. Paranoid that Bullock could potentially leave him for a solo recording career, he changed her stage name from "Little Ann" to "Tina Turner", giving her the name of Tina because it rhymed with "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle".
Sue Records released the song in July of 1960 and by the fall, had peaked at number two on the Hot R&B Sides chart and became one of the first blues recordings to cross over the pop charts, peaking at number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming what Kurt Loder later called, "the blackest record to creep into the Top 40 since Ray Charles' "What'd I Say" just a year before". The record became the pair's first million-seller and the duo started their grueling tour of one-nighters to promote the song including performances at the Apollo Theater, eventually winning a spot on the dance show, American Bandstand, where 20-year-old Tina Turner made her first TV performance on October 3, 1960. According to Tina, she was already nine months pregnant at the time of the show.
Performances and covers
Though an early favorite of Ike and Tina's live shows throughout the '60s, the song was performed less frequently later in the decade after the duo decided to perform renditions of rock anthems. Tina herself would perform the song in a medley set during her early solo tours until Roger Davies began managing her in the early '80s. Turner performed the song throughout the Twenty Four Seven Tour in 2000. Ike often would re-record the song or produced similar sequels of the song hoping to follow it up but with little success. Examples of this include the 1963 track "Wake Up" and an "official" sequel in 1964 with "Am I A Fool in Love" for Kent Records, which was later performed by a solo Tina on American Bandstand in early 1965. The track was also redone in 1966 for the River Deep - Mountain High album. Turner re-recorded "A Fool in Love" for the movie, What's Love Got to Do with It. Turner appeared in Ally McBeal in 2000 where she also sang the song at the club. The song has been an oft-covered song on American Idol with singers Tamyra Gray and Fantasia Barrino covering it. Its most recent cover was performed by Olly Murs on The X Factor in 2009 and by Fleur East on The X Factor in 2014.
- Lead vocal by Tina Turner
- Instrumentation by The Kings of Rhythm
- Piano by Ike Turner
- Background vocals by The Artettes: Robbie Montgomery, Sandra Harding and Frances Hodges
- Produced and written by Ike Turner
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- Hasday, Judy L. (June 1999). Tina Turner: Black Americans of Achievement. Chelsea House Publications. p. 10. ISBN 0-7910-4967-1.
- Gulla, Bob (2008). Icons of R&B and soul : An Encyclopedia of the artists who revolutionized rhythm (1. publ. ed.). Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 176. ISBN 0313340455.
- Bego, Mark (2005). Tina Turner: Break Every Rule. Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1461626021.
- Collis, John (2003). Ike Turner- King of Rhythm. London: The Do Not Press. pp. 70–76. ISBN 978-1-904316-24-4.