Monday, August 08, 2022


We don't do greatest hits, we're not a juke box, we don't take the stage and play the same song over and over.  A number of e-mails have come in over the last few years insisting that we missed this or that book that a woman rocker/popper/whatever wrote.  

Yes, we did a phase where we were attempting to amplify books by women in music.  A phase.  We never said it would continue forever.  We also never said that we'd review every book that came out.

The phase ended sometime ago.  

Ty reported that e-mails had started back up now that SOUL SURVIVOR: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY has been released.  We actually had already decided we'd review P.P. Arnold's biography..  (Disclosure: One of us, C.I., knows P.P. and has for years.)  Ike Turner raped P.P. and we watched as an event that happened and was known in the 60s was turned into 'allegedly' in the US.  

In the book, P.P. notes that she told her sister and a few friends about it when it happened and over the years.  Yes, and some of the friends P.P. spoke with were speaking to others.  This crime was not a secret.  

The book starts with P.P. getting a call from a friend who needs her to go to an audition with her -- to audition to be a new Ikette -- part of The Ike and Tina Turner Revue.  She wants to go, she wants to sing, but she's got two children and a husband who beats her.  She lies to David that she's picking up a check for some session vocal work and she auditions.  Tina and Ike want the three women to be part of the act and want them to go to a club that night to see the revue.  P.P. notes that David will beat her up.  Ike's convinced he can sweet talk her husband.  Finally, she figures in for a penny, in for a pound and goes.

It's her first time in a nightclub.  She really likes the Ikettes on stage.  They've had success outside of Ike and are leaving.  She's blown away by the band and she's amazed at what a star Tina is onstage.  

She's rightly wary of Ike.

P.P. shifts, from chapter to chapter, to a chapter explaining her progress in music, to a chapter detailing her ancestors and how they finally end up in California -- after her parents and grandparents many years in Smith County, Texas (cities such as Tyler, Rusk, Henderson, etc).  She manages to make both storylines interesting.  It also gets to the survivor in the title of her book because she is a survivor from a long line of survivors.

Sadly, that includes survivors of domestic abuse.  She saw her mother beaten and she herself is beaten.  When she wants to join the Revue, she's told (by her mother) that her father will have to decide.  He's not for it at first.  Then she begs and pleads and he appears to feel some guilt for forcing her to marry David.  He'll tell David that some of the beatings have gone too far -- as P.P. notes, this implies that other beatings were just fine.  

She's on the road after four days of rehearsals and she and the other two do a great job.  But, a few nights later, they displease Ike and he orders them out of the limo he travels in and onto the badly torn up bus with the band.  That's the first inkling that Ike's not going to be a kind father figure.  From there, Ike's true nature just keeps popping up.  He shows up, for example, at her hotel room and rapes her.  Afterwards, he then tries to pay her for it.  She refuses payment.  A little while later, he corners her again and tries again but she's saved when a backup singer shows up.

In the brief one year period that she's an Ikette, she manages to appear in the concert film THE BIG T.N.T. SHOW and to go into the studio to record backing vocals for the Phil Spector produced "River Deep, Mountain High."

It's no wonder that, once in the UK where the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger tells her she should be pursuing a solo career, that she immediately is on board.

What was to go back to in the US?  Her husband had been getting $175 of her $250 a week and was not saving it for a house (as he had said they would) or sending a portion to her mother who was looking after the two kids.  Performing music there meant violence on the road -- she recounts being refused service at a cafe and a bathroom station at a gas station for "coloreds" that was inhumane.  In the UK, she didn't encounter the same sort of overt racism.  

So she begins her solo recording career.  "As Time Goes By" has been done by many since Mick and Keith Richards wrote it for their band The Rolling Stones but few have ever invested it with all that P.P. does.

She sings "Tin Soldier" with Small Faces backing her and in 1967 became the first artist to record Cat Stevens' "The First Cut Is The Deepest."  

It's a strong story and a remarkable one.  She got a chance and she ran with it.  She made a better life for herself and she thrived -- not just survived, thrived.  We strongly recommend this book.

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