In the late forties, Ike Turner was a member of the Top Hatters. The group of as many as thirty musicians primarily performed big band music. The group split into two smaller bands, The Dukes of Swing and the Kings of Rhythm. Ike led the latter group, which eventually became known as Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm. In 1951, Ike’s group cut Rocket 88 on which Ike played piano and his saxophone player (Jackie Brenston) sang lead. The early (and possibly first) rock and roll record topped the R&B chart and sold a half-million copies. Sales made Sam Phillips enough money to finance Sun Records and Jackie received $910. The record was credited to Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats instead of Ike and his group. Ike and the other band members were paid only $20 each for their work on the record. His career failed to take off.
Ike kept moving and reforming his group and playing on radio broadcasts and at clubs. Anna Mae Bullock sang for Ike at one of his club dates and he signed her up to his group. Because of other singers who had left him, Ike insisted on Anna performing using the name Tina Turner (and trademarked the name in case she left him so he could simply hire another Tina). Tina sang on one single in 1958 credited only as Little Ann. In 1960 the first Ike and Tina Turner single was released and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue was born.
Tina wrote Nutbush City Limits in 1973 as an autobiographical nod to the small Tennessee town where she was born. The record was their last joint single to reach the top forty, peaking at #22 on the Hot 100 and #11 on the R&B chart. Marc Bolan of the glam band T. Rex is rumored to have played guitar on the record. The single was more popular overseas, selling more than a million copies just in Europe.
The duo released three more singles in 1974 but none of them performed well. Ike’s increasing dependence on cocaine and the resulting problems that stemmed from the drug abuse led to the end of their partnership in 1976 and their eventual divorce in 1978.
Dance crazes are a strange thing that can show up in the strangest places. Nutbush City Limits stayed on the charts in Australia for an entire year. The line dance called The Nutbush became popular in Australia in the late seventies as a result. It was a time during the disco years when other line dances were born and a few years before Country line dancing was a thing. The steps to the dance are similar to the Macarena but predate that dance by over a decade and involve more kicking. By 2015, the world records was only 254 people for the line dance; the current record of 2,230 participants was set in 2019.