THE Edinburgh Jazz Festival has sparked protests by booking controversial singer Ike Turner as one of its headline acts.
Festival organisers today defended the appearance by the Grammy award-winning artist, who gained notoriety for his violence towards ex-wife Tina Turner during their 16-year marriage.
But campaigners against domestic violence condemned the move, saying it sent out “completely the wrong message”.
Brian Fallon, the festival’s chairman, said that, while he understood there would be concerns, he had no issue with bringing such a “great musician” to the Capital.
“Some will have their reservations about us featuring a man of his reputation in the festival and I can understand that.
“But Ike has paid his dues. He remains a formidable artist – he recently won a Grammy award – and we are confident that he will sell out the Queen’s Hall,” he said.
Mississippi-born Turner is the first big-name performer to be confirmed for this year’s festival, which begins at the end of July. The 77-year-old singer and guitarist has been married 13 times, most famously to fellow singer Tina Turner from 1962 to 1978.
After the couple split up, Tina accused Ike of using violence towards her, which he repeatedly denied for many years.
In his autobiography in 2001, Ike admitted his violent past, stating: “Sure, I've slapped Tina . . . there have been times when I punched her to the ground without thinking. But I never beat her.” This week, Shakti Women’s Aid, an Edinburgh-based charity that works with victims of domestic abuse, said the singer should not be allowed to appear at such a high-profile event in the Capital.
A spokeswoman for the charity said: “It’s well known that he abused Tina Turner when they were married, so I really don’t think he should be allowed to come and play here.
“Having someone who has admitted that he is a domestic abuser sends out completely the wrong message.”
City festivals and culture leader Steve Cardownie said that he felt the singer should be granted a “second chance” and urged people to forgive his stormy past.
He said: “I am aware of his background but I think he has admitted what he did was wrong and should be granted a second chance.
“That sort of behaviour is never justified, but he has held his hands up and admitted what he did was wrong.”