Sunday, October 31, 2010

FOCUS ON: TINA TURNER


I remember watching Tina Turner make her highly anticipated comeback performance on the 1985 Grammy Awards telecast. During the musical break in the song, she simply started strutting across the stage and the audience broke out in wild applause. This tiny, simple act showed how much power she has to captivate audiences.

I was familiar with her long before this appearance. I remember her most vividly shaking her thang on the "Cher" show and her performing with Ike, doing "Proud Mary" on the late night show, "Midnight Special" (yes, I'm dating myself) in the way that only they could do that song. I always loved her look and just simply watching her be TINA.

She is known as the Queen of Rock & Roll and she has truly earned that title. She gives her all in every performance and you can feel it when you see her work her magic on stage.

To say that Tina Turner is unique is putting it much too mildly. She is a fiery, sexy presence that effortlessly commands whatever stage she is on. There is absolutely no one else like her; in the way she uses that voice with either a sensual purr or a raspy growl or in her skimpy and suggestive stage costumes that on anyone else would probably just be too much or in the unparalleled way she moves that body as an extension of expressing her music, it is all in one woman who will never, ever be duplicated.

Tina Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock in 1939 and raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, which she would later write a song, "Nutbush City Limits", that was about life in that small town. Anna Mae and her sister, Ruby grew up with their grandmother after their parents split up. Ruby later went to live with her mother in St.Louis while Anna Mae stayed in Nutbush. After her grandmother's death, Anna Mae moved to St. Louis at the age of sixteen.

One night, Ruby took Anna Mae to a club where musician Ike Turner was performing. Anna Mae talked Ike into listening to her sing and he was impressed enough to have her as an occasional vocalist in his soul revue.

During a recording session in 1960, a singer didn't show up, so Anna Mae filled in and recorded the song, "A Fool In Love" which hit number two on the r&b charts and crossing over to the top thirty on the pop charts. Ike changed Anna Mae's name to Tina, they married in Mexico and the Ike & Tina Turner Revue was born.

Although they continued to occasionally have songs hit the charts (The group's cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's song, "Proud Mary" was their biggest hit in 1971 and also won the group their only Grammy), Ike & Tina Turner became best known for their wild and energetic stage shows. They added three female singers/ dancers and called them The Ikettes who, along with Tina, created sexy dance routines that enlivened their performances.

Ike managed the act and controlled all of the decisions on recording contracts and performances but as his drug addiction and erratic behaviour grew worse, the band suffered. This caused musicians and back-up singers to come and go quite frequently.

Tina was verbally and physically abused by Ike throughout most of their marriage. After sixteen years of this, in 1976, she had finally had enough. Ike and Tina had a violent argument before a concert in Dallas and Tina left him with nothing more than thirty-six cents and a gas credit card. She hid out with various friends while Ike tried to locate her.

By walking out in the middle of a tour, Tina learned that she was legally responsible to tour promoters for the cancelled shows. So, Tina became a solo performer and made numerous television appearances and performed at conventions to supplement her income.

Tina wanted to re-start her recording career on her terms so in 1978, Tina released her third solo album, "Rough". The album had a more rock & roll sound which was the direction she wanted her music to move towards. The record did not do well nor did a follow-up disco album, "Love Explosion" in 1979. Tina was only able to tour small stages in the U.S.but in Europe, where she was still popular, she was able to sell out major venues.

In 1983, she put out a single, which was a remake of the Al Green soul classic, "Let's Stay Together (Single Version)". The song went to number six in the U.K. and charted throughout the rest of Europe.Despite this success, her record label, Capitol, was still not interested in giving her a full record deal and had no intention of releasing the song in the U.S. Capitol only relented because Americans were snapping up the imported version of the record. The song only reached number thirty-six on the U.S. pop charts but went to number three on the r&b.

This was enough for Capitol to finally allow Tina to complete a full album and in 1984, the next single off of it, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" was released. Although it got off to a slow start, it ultimately became a world wide smash hit. At the age of forty-four, Tina Turner had her first number one record in the United States. The album, "Private Dancer" was quickly released and sold over eleven million copies world wide. It would go on to win four Grammy Awards including Record of The Year for her comeback song.

Tina was back where she belonged and she has achieved much success. She released four more popular albums and had many hit singles along the way. Her live performances was always her strength and she had many successful world tours that broke concert ticket sales records, including her last one in 2009 which was a celebration of her fifty years in show business. She gave dazzling acting performances in the films, "Tommy" (1975) and "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" (1985). She wrote her autobiography, "I, Tina" with MTV's news correspondent, Kurt Loder in 1986 that explored her career and revealed her abusive relationship with Ike. The book was adapted into a celebrated film in 1993 called, "What's Love Got To Do With It?" that starred Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, who both received Oscar nominations for their fantastic performances.

Tina Turner was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991, she received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2005 and she has sold over one hundred and eighty million records worldwide during her career.

Tina has one son, Craig with Raymond Hill, a saxophonist with Ike's band and later, another son, Ronnie which she had with Ike during their marriage. Tina also raised two of Ike's sons from previous relationships, Ike, Jr. and Michael.

Tina met German record executive, Erwin Bach at London's Heathrow Airport in 1985 and they have been together as a couple ever since.

Here are a couple of my favorite Ike &Tina songs:

"A Fool In Love" - Ike & Tina Turner 

"Sexy Ida Part 1" - Ike & Tina Turner

This is a classic performance of Ike & Tina doing "Proud Mary":





This is Ms Turner on her own:

"I Might Have Been Queen" - Tina Turner 

"Typical Male" - Tina Turner

"Better Be Good To Me" - Tina Turner

And here is the video for her slow burn version of "Let's Stay Together":



Here is a bonus of Tina rocking out on a song that was the B-side of her single of "Let's Stay Together":

"I Wrote A Letter" - Tina Turner

ABSENT FACES IN POP MUSIC

I had read a interesting article recently in the Los Angeles Times about the difficulties of a new generation of Black female singers being...