Even though she once sang that we didn’t need another hero, she became one to us with her class, grace, positive attitude and self-confidence, showing us all that there are second acts in American lives.
The story is the stuff of legend, and has been told in her autobiography, I, Tina, and in the film What’s Love Got to Do With It. Country girl from rural Tennessee moves to St. Louis, meets pioneering rocker and svengali Ike Turner who eventually becomes her very abusive husband. They achieve mainstream success, she leaves him, lives in poverty for a time and then makes the greatest comeback in music history.
Where I am choosing to begin is at that time and place of her comeback, in the mid-1980’s. You see, while my teenage peers had never heard of Ms. Turner when she came seemingly out of nowhere in 1984, my parents played her records often, and she, along with Ike, was featured regularly on a program that broadcast out of Long Beach State, KLON’s Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues, which was done live on Sunday mornings. I thought she was a truly amazing singer, and knew nothing of why the duo broke up, that she was even still recording and had been touring for years.
I got a copy of her latest release on cassette, Private Dancer, prior to seeing her live in 1984 for the first time. A year prior, she had just scored her first top 40 hit in ten years, a fantastic cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together”. Tina was opening for Lionel Richie at the Forum. By the end of side one, I was blown away: this wasn’t the Tina Turner I had heard my parents play at all.
BAM! Her latest single, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, hit #1, her first ever. Then, the album, recorded in just six weeks with a truly low budget, was selling by the truckloads. She was on the charts alongside albums by Bruce Springsteen, Prince and Madonna, artists in diapers when Tina started her professional music career. She was always in the media, with reviewers gushing over her left and right. She seemed in charge of her life, calm, happy and grateful, things I wasn’t during that period. And, without sounding like I am objectifying her, looked amazing in her trendy, fun clothes, right down to wearing leather miniskirts in her mid-40’s. She was totally sexy to this young gay man, so I can only imagine what straight boys my age were thinking.
She would go on to deservedly win many awards and even make another film, more albums and more amazing tours. Let’s be honest: you may have gone to see Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome for Mel Gibson, but you definitely walked out talking only about how amazing Tina was. She stole the show with Mick Jagger at the U.S. concerts for Live Aid. And then her best-selling book came out, and that just cemented Tina for me: she went through absolute hell and came out with the most amazing outlook on life, neither bitter nor bitchy, but with the mindset that no matter what, and F. Scott Fitzgerald be damned, there are second acts in American lives.
Tina Turner would probably be the last person ever to say she was a role model or a beacon of hope. But to so many of us, she was and is. She is the ultimate online meme about believing in yourself, age is just a number and that honest hard work pays off. Happy birthday Ms. Turner. I hope it is all you wish it to be, and thank you for, well, being Tina.
This anthology proves that a good singer can sing one kind of song to one kind of audience. Tina Turner could sing anything to anyone and pull it off in ways that make many of today’s hitmakers look one-dimensional by comparison.
I am dedicating this program to Mr. Gene Romaine of Seattle, Washington, another person I greatly admire who also seems to possess all of the same fantastic traits of Ms. Turner, right down to the sexy. (I don’t know about him and leather miniskirts, but hey, I am certain he could rock one without any issue.) Mr. Romaine occasionally posts about Tina online from time to time, and absolutely gushes about her. When I see these posts from him, it makes my day a whole lot brighter. Hope this program does the same for you, Sir.
- Bold Soul Sister, 1969, The Hunter (Ike and Tina Turner)
- Twenty Four Seven, 1999, Twenty Four Seven
- River Deep, Mountain High (mono, of course), 1966, River Deep, Mountain High (Ike and Tina Turner)
- Funkier Than A Mosquita’s Tweeter, 1970, Workin’ Together (also the B-side to “Proud Mary”) (Ike and Tina Turner)
- Games (demo), 1983, The Collected Recordings – Sixties to Nineties
- Liberty Records Advertisement/Too Much Woman (For A Henpecked Man), 1970, Come Together (Ike and Tina Turner)
- Better Be Good To Me (album version), 1984, Private Dancer
- Bayou Song, 1974, Tina Turns The Country On!
- Typical Male, 1986, Break Every Rule
- The Bitch Is Back (live at the London Apollo), 1979, Wild Lady of Rock concert film
- Goldeneye, 1995, Music from James Bond In Goldeneye
- Proud Mary, 1970, Workin’ Together (Ike and Tina Turner)
- It’s Gonna Work Out Fine, 1961, Ike & Tina Turner’s Kings Of Rhythm Dance (Ike and Tina Turner, with male vocals by Mickey Baker)
- Steamy Windows, 1989, Foreign Affair
- I Am A Motherless Child, 1968, Outta Season (Ike and Tina Turner)
Love to you all.
Ben “Daddy Ben Bear” Brown Jr.
Host, Producer, Audio Engineer and Writer
#tinaturner #8thwonderoftheworld #rockandroll #soulmusic
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