Esther Jones (February 2, 1945 - December 8, 2006) was an American soul singer and choreographer, best known as the "longest-lasting Ikette" in the Ike & Tina Turner Revue. In the 1980s, she was the lead vocalist in the band Formula 5.
Life and career
Esther Faye Jones was born on February 2, 1945 in El Paso, Texas to Luchie and Carrie Bills. Growing up in Midland, she sang in church, played percussion and won competitions as a twirler. After she graduated from Carver High School in 1964, she joined a group called the B-29ers and Arty Tolliver as a vocalist.
In 1969, Jones auditioned to become an Ikette and was hired on the spot. While most Ikettes didn't last long, Jones was one of the constant members until the end of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue in 1976. At one point, she had briefly quit when Ike Turner fined her $15 for being late onstage, but because of her experience and leadership, Jones trained the other Ikettes and was referred to as "Motha" Ikette. During her tenure as an Ikette she was responsible for most of the choreography. Tina Turner described her as "the hardest worker and toughest dancer." As an Ikette with Ike & Tina Turner, Jones opened for the Rolling Stones on their 1969 American tour. She toured the world and performed at the 1971 Soul to Soul concert in Accra. They were featured in the Isley Brothers concert film It's Your Thing (1970) and had a cameo in the Miloš Forman film Taking Off (1971). While she was an Ikette, Jones lived in Los Angeles with her husband, while their three children lived in Texas with her grandparents.
In 1983, Jones released the single "Love Hour" with drummer-singer Tony Davis as Tony & Davis. Jones fronted the soul funk band Formula 5 in the 1980s. She released two albums, Determination (1985) and On The Rise (1986), with the band on Malaco Records. In 1985, Jones performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival.
Jones moved back to Midland, Texas shortly after she had a stroke in 1992. She also and suffered from multiple myeloma. At age 60, she became a member of the West Texas Aphasia Center, which helps stroke victims learn to communicate. On December 8, 2006, Jones died at the age of 61 at Hospice of Midland. She was survived by her sons Blake Burton and Robert Bills.
Tony & Esther
- 1983: "Love Hour" (Tyshawn TS 7777)
- 1985: "Cleaning House" (Malaco MAL 1218)
- 1985: "Part Time Lover, Full Time Fool" (Malaco MAL 2114)
Ike & Tina Turner
- 1971: What You Hear Is What You Get - Live at Carnegie Hall
- 1971: Live in Paris – Olympia 1971
- 1985: Determination (Malaco Records)
- 1986: On The Rise (Malaco Records)
Backing vocal credits
- 1972: Gayle McCormick – Flesh & Blood (Decca Records)