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The Ikettes

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One of the premier backing groups in Rock’n’Roll history, the Ikettes had some Top 40 success in their own right. Originally formed to replace the Artettes as back_up for the Ike and Tina Revue, the early Ikettes featured Robbie Montgomery, Venetta Fields and Jessie Smith.

Ike and Tina Turner’s debut release “Fool In Love,” was fast becoming a big hit in late summer. Art Lassiter had loaned the duo a few of his Artettes for the session, Robbie Montgomery, Sandra Harding, and Frances Hodges. When some of the group was unwilling to tour to help promote the single, the Ikettes were born.

It is still unclear who exactly christened the new group, both Lassiter and Ike Turner have claimed it was himself, but obvious influence stemmed from the success Ray Charles was having with his Raelettes, and Lassiter’s own Artettes.

The group toured with the early Revue and cut a few more backing sides, none of which really matched the success of Ike and Tina’s original effort. Ike, who was under contract with Sue records, decided that he could earn more if his promoted the girls as a separate entity, leased to another label. The result was the brilliant blues stomper “I’m Blue (The Gong Gong Song).” Featuring Dolores Johnson on lead, and even Tina in the back, the single cruised up to a lofty position in early 1962. At number 19 Pop, the single was the Revue’s biggest success since “Fool In Love.”

More singles followed, including “Troubles On My Mind,” “Heavenly Love,” and “Prisoner of Love,” and the group recorded for a number of labels including Atco, Teena and Innis Records. But nothing really clicked, and the Revue was becoming the prime bread and butter for the singers.

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