“We never ever do nothin’ nice and easy.”- Tina Turner
Wikipedia: “Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock; November 26, 1939) is a singer and actress, originally from the United States and now a Swiss citizen. Turner rose to prominence as part of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue before launching a successful career as a solo performer.
One of the best-selling recording artists of all time, she has been referred to as The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Turner is noted for her energetic stage presence, powerful vocals, and career longevity.” Indeed.
Anna Mae’s upbringing was rough to say the least. Her parents were “poor sharecroppers, who split up and left Turner and her sister to be raised by their grandmother. As a teen, Tina immersed herself in St. Louis’ R&B music scene.” She met Ike Turner (for better, then for worse) at Club Manhattan. Ike was leading a group called Kings of Rhythm who – as I mentioned in my post on Sam Phillips – are credited with maybe the first ones to do a rock and roll song with “Rocket 88.”
Apparently, other than in his singing, Tina was not initially attracted to Ike calling him ugly and skinny. But she got up and sang a B.B. King tune with the band and that made all the difference. That song was “(Darling) You Know I Love You.)”
Now I tried hard to find the original version but couldn’t. After some sleuthing, I found out that there had been an album released for Tina’s autobiography called What’s Love Got to Do With It.” And the band just fucking scorches through it. The guitar is great and it has that great honky-tonk sax goin’ on.
The act scored their first R&B hit in 1960 with “A Fool in Love,” reaching No. 2. Ike and Tina didn’t become household names until 1971 with their cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” which also earned the act a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group. I may have posted this one before but come on! This is great. I saw the band in NYC around this time. I tell you if I tried to dance like this I’d be hurtin’ for certain:
Tina and Ike married in 1962. So let’s get this shitty part out of the way. Ike was a fine musician but otherwise a real abusive asshole. Tina said that she didn’t want to change her name or go on tour. Ike’s loving response was to hit her in the head with a wooden shoe stretcher. She said it was always a “black eye, a broken nose, a busted lip, a rib.” Ike remained abusive and unfaithful throughout their marriage. It got bad enough that Tina attempted suicide in 1968,
Tina put up with this shit as long as she could and eventually dumped Ike in July of 1976. She “fled with only 36 cents and a Mobil credit card in her pocket. On July 27, she filed for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.” (Tina is a Buddhist and credits that to some extent for her resilience.)
Wikipedia: “In her mid-40s, Tina staged a pop music comeback with her 1984 Private Dancer album and a host of singles that included the title track, a remake of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” “Better Be Good to Me,” and “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” The Grammy-winning “What’s Love Got to Do With It” reached No. 1 in the U.S. and is seen by many as Tina’s trademark song.
The studio albums Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair followed, as well as a starring role in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome that featured the anthemic “We Don’t Need Another Hero.” She also penned a 1986 memoir, I, Tina, with journalist Kurt Loder that was turned into the 1993 film What’s Love Got to Do With It, starring Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. (Tina has said that she’s never watched the film in its entirety.)”
From Dancer, this is “Better Be Good To Me.”
Oh, you better be good to me!
That’s how it’s got to be now
Cause I don’t have no use for what you loosely call the truth
And you better be good to me
Yeah, you better be good, good
C’mon, c’mon, be good to me
The rockers, of course, fell in love with Tina and how could they not? Mark Knopfler gave the song “Private Dancer” for her. He originally wrote it for Dire Straits and felt it was inappropriate for a guy to sing. Jeff Beck plays guitar on it and, for whatever reason, Knopfer hated his solo calling it the “world’s second ugliest guitar solo.” (Go listen to it sometime. It’s a fine solo. Jealous.)
Mick sang with her. She even played the Acid Queen in the often incomprehensible film of the Who’s Tommy. And from Tina Live in Europe, here she is with Mr. God himself, the one and only Eric Clapton doing “Tearing Us Apart.” Love this.
Back in the ’60s, Wilson Pickett had a hit with a song called “Land of a Thousand Dances.” Let’s hear Tina doin’ the “na-na na na-na na na” thing. (I prefer Tina’s upbeat rock and soul stuff. I like her other songs too but too much of her 80’s stuff suffers from that cheesy overproduction that was so rampant in that period.) Watch the crowd go nuts here:
Reluctant as I am to give Ike any more air time, I’d be totally remiss if I didn’t do “River Deep Mountain High,” the big Phil Spector production that bombed in the US. (Reluctant to give that guy any space either.) Great big tune. Released in 1966, this one had members of LA’s legendary Wrecking Crew playing on it: Leon Russell, Glen Campbell, Barney Kessel, Carol Kaye. Of the song, a discerning listener named George Harrison said it was, “a perfect record from start to finish. You couldn’t improve on it.”
Ike served time in prison for drug possession, released his own autobiography and died from a cocaine overdoes in 2007.
Tina had been in a long-term relationship with German music producer Erwin Bach and married him in 2013. They moved to Zurich, Switzerland where Tina has since gotten citizenship. She’s faced a number of health problems and at 80, we’re not likely to see her on the stage again any time soon.
Tina Turner has won 12 Grammy Awards; those awards include eight competitive awards, three Grammy Hall of Fame awards, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Rolling Stone ranked Turner 63rd on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time and 17th on its list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. Turner has her own stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Ike Turner in 1991 and is a 2005 recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors. There’s even a musical about her.
Here’s a playlist. And below that, a 2019 CBS TV interview with Tina. You may not be able to see it if you’re overseas but I hope you can