RIP Riverboat Queen

As you may have heard, Tina Turner has passed at the age of 83. It is pretty hard to describe how incredible, and important, she was over so many decades. When I was a kid, I knew of the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. Later just Tina.

One thing was consistent: Tina Turner blew the lid off of any joint she played. I saw her twice and that is exactly what she did. Won’t say that about too many acts, but it is easy as to Tina.

Wiki indicates:

“In the 1980s, Turner launched “one of the greatest comebacks in music history”. Her 1984 multi-platinum album Private Dancer contained the hit song “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, which won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and became her first and only number one song on the Billboard Hot 100. Aged 44, she was the oldest female solo artist to top the Hot 100. Her chart success continued with “Better Be Good to Me”, “Private Dancer”, “We Don’t Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)”, “Typical Male”, “The Best”, “I Don’t Wanna Fight” and “GoldenEye”. During her Break Every Rule World Tour in 1988, she set a then-Guinness World Record for the largest paying audience (180,000) for a solo performer.”

Eh, not sure that was so much a “comeback” as proof she was fine without the abusive Ike. She was the first black artist and first woman to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. That says something important.

And she almost never stopped from there. Until now, and that sucks.

Tina Turner was a force to be reckoned with. She demanded that attention, and rightfully got it.

There are two videos attached, one early Tina, and one much later. The force that she was is truly visible in both.

Marcy asked our intrepid Roving Reporter Rosalind to write something, and I very much hope she does. I will incorporate into this post the second it appears.

52 replies
  1. Charles Wolf says:

    Her breakup from Ike was a BFD informing many that they could shed their abusers.

    • Matt___B says:

      I had a recording engineer friend in the ’80s who had worked with Ike Turner in the ’70s. He said Ike had built an opulent home recording studio and it was outfitted with hidden cameras everywhere so he could “spy” on the goings-on in various corners of the studio from a private control room that had a bank of video monitors. Apparently he was a controlling, manipulative and abusive POS all-around. Thankfully Tina removed herself from that situation early on…

    • Justlp34 says:

      She credited David Bowie with helping save her career. They were on the same label & Bowie had just signed a new contract & left the signing party early to go see Tina in concert the same night. He took along some A&R guys (because at that time, they were all guys) with him to the show & apparently influenced them to re-sign her when they were about to drop her after her divorce.

      I worked for Tower Records around that time & always had a thing for Bowie, so I loved that story. RIP Tina.

      • ExRacerX says:

        Two of my favorite live videos are Tina Turner guesting on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Bowie guesting on Tina’s Tonight. Such a great pairing!

        Now they’re both gone. RIP, Tina—you were one one of a kind.

  2. ducktree says:

    I also had the astounding pleasure of seeing TNTina in live performance two times: 1984 at the Wiltern Theater in L.A. when Private Dancer was released; and again, at the Greek Theater in the late 1990’s, also in L.A., when Cyndi Lauper (who was about 10 months pregnant at the time) opened for her. Truly unforgettable evenings, and she burned the place down each time.

    Rest in Peace.

    • hollywood says:

      We all have regrets. To an extent I regret never having seen the Beatles.
      But to a far greater extent I regret that when I was in Texas in my early twenties not making it over to the Skyliner Ballroom on the Jacksboro Highway in the Fort Worth area to see the Ike and Tina Turner Review.
      Sad. RIP

  3. ACIM1313 says:

    I saw her perform at that tour…. That video captures how powerful, fun, and AMAZING she was!!! She’s got all the angels in Heaven dancing wildly behind her as she sings now!!!

  4. Valerie Klyman-Clark says:

    I didn’t realize she and Cher were such friends. That’s a rabbit hole there. Her memory will, indeed be a blessing.

    I recall being gobsmacked when she appeared as The Acid Queen in Tommy. Le sigh . . .

  5. Russalnyde says:

    This one really stings.
    “River Deep Mountain High” chills me to the bone every time I hear it.
    The world looks like a totally different place.
    RIP Tina.

    • Russalnyde says:

      And the NYT’s obituary points out how she stepped in for a missing Art Lassiter while recording “A Fool in Love” and as they say, the rest is history.
      That one sends me as well.

    • StillHopeful says:

      Yes, River Deep Mountain High.

      As a young kid raised on The Beach Boys, then The Beatles, the first time I heard of her was when Eric Burdon inserted her into the Animals version of RDMH.

      Who is that?, I wondered.

      Well, I looked and found out. Went backwards to get caught up and got hooked forever more.


  6. bmaz says:

    From the Guardian:

    “Turner was born Anna Mae Bullock on 26 November 1939 and raised in Nutbush, Tennessee, where she recalled picking cotton with her family as a child. She sang in the tiny town’s church choir, and as a teenager talked – or rather, sang – her way into Ike’s band in St Louis: he had declined her request to join until he heard her seize the microphone during a Kings of Rhythm performance for a rendition of BB King’s You Know I Love You.

    After her vocal talents became apparent, Ike gave her the name Tina Turner – and trademarked it in case she left him and he wanted to replace her in his act. He quickly became abusive: when Turner tried to leave the group early on after having got a sense of his mercurial character, he hit her with a wooden shoe stretcher.”

    Bob Seger famously covered Nutbush City Limit, but Tina was the one.

  7. Artzen Frankengueuze says:

    I was a Who fan at 11 years old, saw the Tommy movie at 12.
    Was wowed by the Acid queen, and repeated listens ot the soundtrack album.

    Went on from there to go back and learn of the earlier work.
    Taking out those records from the public library and listening to them for a week before having to return them. By the time Private dancer exploded it didn’t seem like a surprise, just overdue.

    Never got to see her. It was good to see her become such a powerful example for women in such a male dominated business.

    • bmaz says:

      She was really something live, and her band and backup singers always great. Just superb.

  8. FiestyBlueBird says:

    Now I’ve got “on the cover of the Rolling Stone” looping through my head. Two firsts for Tina there. It was definitely a thing.

    I subscribed in high school and college, then lapsed. Some years later they had a deal: Lifetime subscription for $100. No strings attached. Gave my sister $100 for Christmas for her to subscribe. She did. To this day, I regret not spending another $100 to buy the same for myself. She’s my only remaining sibling, and she still tells me of stuff she recently read in Rolling Stone.

    Obviously it’s all there online now, but I like books and magazines in hand.

  9. Savage Librarian says:

    I was just thinking about Tina Turner on Monday and wondering how she was. I have the Private Dancer album on audio cassette tape. Her energy and music got me through some rough patches in my life. RIP, Tina.

  10. gertibird says:

    Tina Turner is an Icon that not only was an awesome singer and performer, but she is someone who broke many barriers that will benefit all of us for ever more. RIP you awesome and powerful woman!

  11. Molly Pitcher says:

    Cher was interviewed on MSNBC this afternoon about her best friend Tina. She has been visiting her in Switzerland periodically, where Tina had an in home dialysis machine. They initially bonded over cotton picking which Cher’s mother had done as a child, as had Tina.

    Cher said the last time she saw her, Tina gave her a pair of “Tina” shoes. She was awesome and like a phoenix rose from the ashes to conquer her past and inspire many, many women. How fortunate we are to have seen her.

  12. blueedredcounty says:

    When my nephew got married in 2008, as part of the weekend festivities, one of my sisters had gotten us all tickets to Tina’s sold-out performance at the Rosemont Horizon in the Chicago ‘burbs. I knew she had to be close to 70 at the time, but she looked and performed like she was still in her 20s. Absolutely incredible artist and person.

  13. Thomasa98 says:

    Sadly, the soundtrack of my life is growing faint. Tina Turner’s passing today brought tears to my eyes that only music generates. I’m trying to keep it going though, that sound track. Lately I joined a rock n’ roll band with a couple guys a decade younger than me and two women. They needed a bass player. We’re playing covers of the hits when they were coming up and a few of mine get played too but not like River Deep Mountain High — nobody in our outfit has that kind of power, that stage presence, that drive that can bring an audience to it’s feet. We just hope to fill a dance floor at the local pub. But we’ll find some homage to play for Tina at our next gig. RIP Tina Turner. We’ll miss you. Yours was a great show!

  14. Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

    This is weird but good – Ike and Tina on Playboy after Dark in 1969,covering Sly and the Family Stone, the Beatles, Creedence, and the Rolling Stones, accompanied by a strangely coiffed Violin Player, entertaining Hugh Hefner and Barbie Benton, among others.

    • bmaz says:

      That is fucking fantastic! The “strangely coiffed Violin Player” may be early Jean Luc Ponti, but I am not sure. I know he did play with her later, but not sure here. There was like one black guy in the audience, I recognize him, but cannot peg him. Who is it?

      • SunZoomSpark says:

        That was Doug Kershaw on the fiddle, not Ponty.
        However Tina and the Ikettes did all the backup vocals for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention when they recorded Over-Nite Sensation and Apostrophe at that dirtbag Ike’s Apostolic Studio. Ponty and George Duke were on those sessions.
        The had to sing some really difficult parts as well as some pretty risqué material. Consumate professionals, with a sense of humor.

        Ike told Frank he could only pay them $25 per song because that is what Ike paid them.

        • bmaz says:

          Thank you, and to MonsieurGu too. I did not know, and knew Ponti played with her later. We were just talking about the “Ikettes” backing on Overnight Sensation not long ago.

        • Sambucus says:

          Wow! I am a huge Zappa fan and those are my two favorite FZ albums, and I had no idea she was backup on those. So that must be her on Cosmik Debris?

          • posaune says:

            I know, wow. Tina as back up for Frank Zappa? Amazing! Really speaks to her musicianship as top drawer.

        • Steve13209 says:

          Big Zappa fan here also and must have missed the Ikettes discussion. I’m going to listen to those albums right now.

          Why do we only hear about these things after someone dies? RIP Tina.

      • Elvishasleftthebuilding says:

        A couple other of these are pretty awesome (off topic, but this a rabbit hole) –

        Take a look at Fleetwood Mac playing Rattlesnake Shake while Arte Johnson hams it up –

        Sir Douglas Quintet playing “Mendocino”

        Chuck Woolery (then in the band the Avant Garde) being a bit of a prick to Joan Baez –

        And then the first Playboy’s Penthouse with Cy Coleman (introducing “The Best Is Yet to Come” before Sinatra recorded it0, Lenny Bruce, Rona Jaffe, Nat King Cole drinking scotch, and Ella Fitzgerald singing.

        As for the Ike and Tina video – there was Louis Nye stealing the violin. I can’t figure out who the black guy was – there were at least two who looked like they should be famous.

        These Playboy After Dark/Playboy’s Penthouse are a treasure. I haven’t gotten through hardly any of them, but they are all pretty interesting. If only Elon Musk had just decided to throw parties with musicians and authors instead of buying Twitter – he might have had a career.

    • Justlp34 says:

      Thanks for sharing! I’ll second bmaz’s that was fucking fantastic. What a show she put on! The audience is hilarious too.

      • theartistvvv says:

        I think the African American guy in the open yellow shirt is a comedic actor … mebbe “Tim” something?

        Hefner’s parting words about, “A little earlier tonight Ike and Tina Turner sang a little song called, ‘Come Together’, not a bad idea …”

        OK, Hef.

  15. Justlp34 says:

    She credited David Bowie with helping save her career. They were on the same label & Bowie had just signed a new contract & left the signing party early to go see Tina in concert the same night. He took along some A&R guys (because at that time, they were all guys) with him to the show & apparently influenced them to re-sign her when they were about to drop her after her divorce.

    I worked for Tower Records around that time & always had a thing for Bowie, so I loved that story. RIP Tina.

  16. tmooretxk says:

    During my stagehand days, I was a truss spot (spotlight in the trusses over the stage – back before automated lights made that obsolete) for her show in Shreveport sometime in the 80s or 90s. One of my all time favorites out of the several dozen shows I worked in that era. One thing I remember vividly – her glowing coppery skin tone as she put on an incredible show, the result of a sheen of perspiration from her stupendously energetic performance. She made at least a half-dozen costume changes, and soaked every one. What a trouper!

    • theartistvvv says:

      I represented, as recently as 2020, a ” truss spot” guy who worked at the Rosemont Horizon – his was a union job.

      • tmooretxk says:

        We had a dormant “Mixed Local” (both projectionists & stagehands) – I.A.T.S.E. Local 383 – in Texarkana that we resurrected when the Perot Theater was remodelled & reopened as a theatrical venue in 1980. Being 75 miles from Shreveport, the Shreveport Local called us a lot for shows at Hirsch Coliseum, especially as follow spot operators. Many, many great touring shows there & hundreds of theatrical presentations at the Perot over about 30 years, until my knees couldn’t take it any more. I was the House Sound Man for about ten years, and the Fly Rail Chief (in one of the last true hemp houses around) for about twenty years, and ran carbon-arc follow spots the whole time. Wouldn’t trade it for anything. But Tina was special.

  17. elcajon64 says:

    First: Fuck Ike Turner

    As a musician (actually, a drummer) and performer – two distinctly different things – I would count Tina Turner as a strong influence and inspiration on me from a young age. I was always taken by her command of the stage and audience. I’ve never seen anyone else do it like she did. I’ve seen Lemmy, Hynde, Biafra, etc. and Tina Turner is just a better band member. Not an obvious band leader, but a player in the group.

    She could own it and lose herself in it. All at the same time.

    There are players that I rip off and want to sound like. There are performers that I try to emulate; even if I don’t have the same place in the band or play the same instrument. I never wanted to be like Mick Jagger, I wanted to be like Tina Turner.

  18. Bay State Librul says:

    Speaking of Jagger

    On his TV show in May 1984, David Letterman asked Ms. Turner if she taught Mr. Jagger how to dance. “When I first toured with him in 1966, he was just doing the tambourine. The next time I saw him he was doing the Pony. I didn’t really teach him; I just think he was influenced by the girls and I.”
    Marc Myers

  19. Artemesia says:

    My first date with Ed Walker to whom I have been blissfully married for 50 years was an Ike and Tina Turner concert. I introduced him to Opera around the same time — he went on to sing in dozens of operas in the chorus after that.

    • bmaz says:

      Again, you two were maybe eleven then? I’ve met Ed several times, including here at Casa de bmaz, and there is no way he is that old!

    • gruntfuttock says:

      50 years together. My parents were lucky enough to manage that. And you turned him on to opera. Cool :-)

      Tina: an irresistable force of nature!

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