Ike Turner formed the Ikettes to replace the Artettes as the backing group for the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. The Ikettes began recording in 1960, when lead Delores Johnson, Eloise Hester, and Joshie Armstead accompanied Tina Turner on her first recording, "A Fool in Love". They cut "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" the following year. Ike produced the record and leased it to Atco Records, who issued three less successful Ikettes singles in 1962. The following year, Ike switched them to his Teena record label for two singles: "Crazy in Love" (credited as Robbie Montgomery & the Ikettes) and "Prisoner in Love". "Here's Your Heart" came out on Innis in 1964 but failed to go national; nor did a Phi-Dan single in 1965.
Despite their beginnings, the Ikettes became successful artists in their own right. They had hits in the early and mid 1960s, charting with "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" in 1961, "Camel Walk" in 1964, and "Peaches and Cream" and "I'm So Thankful" in 1965. Unheralded, they were arguably one of the ten top R&B female groups of all time. Ike never paid them much, which caused their lineup to change frequently, and they never received royalties.
A six-record stint from 1964 through 1966 on Modern Records saw a new lineup of Robbie Montgomery (ex-Artette), Venetta Fields, and Jessie Smith. Armstead, the first of the originals to leave, went solo and sang with groups before hooking up with a pre-Motown Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson to form the formidable songwriting/production team of Ashford/Simpson/Armstead. The Ikettes scored three hits on Modern: "The Camel Walk", "Peaches and Cream", and "I'm So Thankful."
Ultra funky remakes of "Sally Go Round the Roses" and "Da Doo Ron Ron" did not go as well; neither did "He's Gonna Be Fine, Fine, Fine," though it sounded like a precursor to the stuff Betty Davis did later. When "Peaches and Cream" exploded, Ike sent a different set of Ikettes, Janice Singleton (Hughes), Diane Rutherford and Marquentta Tinsley, on the road with "The D*** Clark Caravan of Stars", and kept the ones who recorded the song on tour with his revue. Janice Singleton and Diane Rutherford provided backing vocals for Tina Turner on the Phil Spector-produced classic "River Deep - Mountain High".
Janice Singleton (Hughes) left the Ikettes to lead groups on A&M (The Secrets: lead vocals on A&M recording by Diane Rutherford-Swann) and Verve (The Unit Plus), then teamed with Ikette
Maxine Smith (Green) on world tours with Leo Sayer, Martha Reeves, Boz Scaggs, and Joe Cocker, among others. In 2007, they joined the Mohegan Sun (Casino) All Stars.
The Ikettes were very annoyed and left the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in late 1965. After trying unsuccessfully to continue using the name The Ikettes under management of Tina Turner's sister, Alline Bullock, they changed their name to "The Mirettes," after the Mirwood label they had signed to. Their single release did not chart and they signed with Revue. The stint with Revue proved luckier: their first two singles, a sexy "In the Midnight Hour" and "Take For a Little a While," made impressions. A third single, "First Love", stiffed, as did a single on Minit Records in 1968 entitled
"Help Wanted". A shift to Uni Records was more fruitful for The Mirettes, but the songs were not big hits. Zea Records dropped the raunchy "Ain't My Stuff Good Enough" in 1970. The Mirettes broke up in 1971, after Venetta Fields left the group and was replaced by one-time Ikette Pat Powdrill.
In the meantime, Turner hired new women as Ikettes. The first set included Pat Arnold (aka P. P. Arnold), Juanita Hixson, Gloria Scott and Maxine Smith. Later members included Pat Powdrill, Ann Thomas, Shelly Clark (later of Honey Cone), Rose Smith and Paulette Parker. Innis, attempting to earn some money from its unreleased material, issued "So Blue Over You"/"So Fine"
credited to 'Ike & Tina Turner & the Ikettes' in 1968.
Pompeii and Liberty Records issued singles credited to the Ikettes in 1969 and 1970 respectively, but only a remake of Sly & the Family Stone's "I Want to Take You Higher" (with Ike & Tina Turner) got much notice. It was followed by two more singles credited to the Ikettes on United Artists, including a remake of "Camel Walk" in 1971 and "Two Timin', Double Dealin'" in 1973, the last known single by either the Ikettes or the Mirettes.
Lejeune Richardson was a long-time member of the Ikettes. She was married to Ike Turner's drummer Soko Richardson, but later was divorced. She later became a backup dancer for Tina Turner during her solo years.
As Ike Turner revived his career in the 1990's, he formed a new set of Ikettes including Jeanette Bazzell and Audrey Madison-Turner. Tina Turner no longer uses Ikettes in her shows; instead, she affectionately refers to her back-up dancers as her "flowers."
IKETTES MEMBERS - WOW - That's a lot of Ikettes~