Saturday, May 29, 2010

Intersecting lives - Dennis Hopper and Ike Turner

I learned of Dennis Hopper's not-unexpected death this morning via a FriendFeed entry. Some remember him for his movies, some for his commercials. I remember him for a Saturday Night Live sketch that played on his hard partying during his younger years - in the sketch, Hopper didn't recognize Jack Nicholson until he introduced himself as one of the stars of the (Michael Keaton) Batman movie.

But the anonymous author of The Music's Over (I know who it is, but I'm not telling) has highlighted another side of Dennis Hopper:

Hopper was also a respected painter, sculptor and photographer who made a couple of significant contributions to the world of popular music as well. In 1966, he created the cover art for “River Deep – Mountain High,” the hit single for Ike & Tina Turner. And more recently, he portrayed the narrator on “Fire Coming Out Of The Monkey’s Head” from Demon Days, the multi-million selling album by Gorillaz.

Regarding the Ike & Tina (or, more accurately, Tina and Phil Spector) cover art, Songfacts quotes from a Rolling Stone interview with Bob Krasnow:

"Dennis Hopper did the cover on that LP. He was broke on his ass in Hollywood and trying photography. He said he'd like to do the cover. He took us to this sign company, where there was this 70-foot high sign for a movie, with one of those sex stars - Boccaccio '70 or something. And he shot them in front of that big teardrop. Then the gas company had a big sign, and Hopper took them there and shot them in front of a big burner."

Several decades later, Hopper hooked up with the Gorillaz (and no, the writer of The Music's Over is not one of the members of the Gorillaz). Eventually, Hopper ended up at the Apollo in Harlem:

I found one little bit of irony while reading up on the Gorillaz' Demon Days:

Somehow, though, Albarn and his new cohort Danger Mouse (who replaces the quickly fading-in-relevance Dan the Automator) have managed to develop something resembling a cohesive statement from parts as disparate as Neneh "Buffalo Stance" Cherry, Dennis Hopper, Martina Topley-Bird, the London Community Gospel Choir (because every true exercise in self-indulgence needs a gospel choir attached to it), and Ike Turner. Yes, you read right. Ike freaking Turner.

As I implicitly mentioned earlier, Ike Turner does not appear on "River Deep, Mountain High" because Phil Spector preferred to use his own session musicians. So while Ike and Dennis (the photographer) were only technically associated on the earlier recording, they did legitimately appear on the credits for the Gorillaz album.

And, unfortunately, Turner and Hopper have one other thing in common. There's a huge battle over Ike Turner's estate, and there's going to be a huge battle over Dennis Hopper's estate.
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