Fred and Toody on their wedding day, June 14, 1967.

Image: the Coles.

TWO EYES. TWO WIDE EYES dilating in the dark, glued to every shimmying, twitching, undulating move of this banshee, this woman—this black locomotive on fire—bouncing all over the stage like a goddamn moth on a bug zapper. She is electricity. She is religion. She is drugs. She is everything.

The year is 1960, and a 12-year-old Fred Cole is standing in a concert hall having his mind blown by the soul explosion of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue.

The fact that it’s Ike and Tina’s pre-“Proud Mary” heyday is the only way to explain why they’re playing a show in Klamath Falls. Cole gobbled up the tickets like they were salvation, but the rest of the town is not so hip. When the curtain goes up, there are maybe 20 other people in attendance. Ike and Tina are used to sweating and shaking for the masses, but here in the green expanse of Southern Oregon, they’re playing to crickets.

Tina can see the audience. She can see the swaths of empty seats. And yet she does not stop shaking. Does not stop dipping those shoulders. Does not stop belting out the rafter-rattling blues like her life depends on it.

There will be other monumental touchstones in Cole’s life—seeing the Beatles, sharing a bottle of Southern Comfort with Janis Joplin, meeting his wife-slash-bassist-slash-soul-mate, Toody—but it was here, in Klamath Falls, that his rock ’n’ roll heart first chugged and heaved into motion.
Forty-eight years later, Cole, the 60-year-old rocker from Clackamas, stands on a stage in Salt Lake City. He straps on his guitar and steps into the spotlight as he’s done thousands of times before. To Cole’s right, Kelly Halliburton settles his thick frame behind the drum kit. Ink-black hair hanging in his eyes, Halliburton looks like a Visigoth holding Q-tips. Toody, Cole’s 60-year-old wife of 42 years and bandmate for 31, tosses her gray hair out of her face with a whip of her neck, rolls up the sleeves of her red western shirt, and plugs in her ancient Vox Wyman bass (named for the Rolling Stones’ ex-bassist, Bill Wyman). She looks kind of like Patti Smith: an utter badass. A dull hum rumbles through the amplifier. Cole raises his eyes to the crowd.