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by Oscar van Duijn
She recently announced her retirement - again - but before that, she wants to be at the top one more time. With the new album, "Twenty Four Seven", the new singles "When The Heartache Is Over" and "Whatever You Need", and last but not least a world tour, she will astonish the world of music one more time, a true diva in pop music: Tina Turner.
On 26 November 1939 Anna Mae Bullock (Tina's real name) was born in Nutbush, Tennessee, USA. As a very young girl she was already singing and dancing to the sound of the radio or the church organ. At the age of 16 she started to work as a singer in several R&B nightclubs in St. Louis, the place where some family problems had led her and her sister Alline to. In one of those clubs, called "Manhattan", Ike Turner's Kings Of Rhythm was a regular. Together with her sister, Anna got to know the members of the band.
On one evening Ike invited Anna to the stage to sing with the band. Ike was overwhelmed with her talent and since then she became a part of his band. Soon Ike and 'Little Ann' (as he liked to call her) became a couple. In 1960 Ike and Anna recorded their first record "A Fool In Love". Ike wanted to record it with his old friend Art Lassiter but they had a disagreement over money, so Anna stepped in. It became a huge hit in America, the breakthrough Ike had been waiting for.
Late 1960 Ike told Anna his plans for the future, he wanted to leave the Kings Of Rhythm and start a new band with her as the star. He also gave her a new name: "Tina Turner". Soon after that the "Ike and Tina Turner Revue" was born. Ike controlled the Revue completely, from the musicians in the band up to the clubs they played in. He also started to control Tina, who was now a mother of two (one from a previous relationship with a member of the Kings and one from Ike). Next to her own children she also took care of the two sons from Ike's previous marriage.
In the 1960s and 1970s the Revue was a big success with songs like "River Deep, Mountain High" and also the first release of "Nutbush City Limits". With the success it also became clear that Ike had a violent temper. Sometimes Tina appeared on stage bruised and battered. Several tours were made in that period, also to Britain and Europe. It was in these countries that black and white people alike appreciated their music, a totally new experience for Ike and Tina. It took until 1976 (after she became a Buddhist) for Tina to finally stand up to Ike and divorce him. When asked why she didn't leave Ike sooner she simply replied: "I didn't know anything else - or anybody else. And I wanted to sing."
Tina paused for a year before putting together a band of her own, without Ike. During the divorce she had left everything to him, in order to be able to make a new start with her life. But starting all over proved to be a very hard thing to do. Without any money and an uncertain future, she now had to prove that she could be a star on her own. She started touring with her band throughout the USA, but she soon realised she couldn't rely on singing just the old songs, she needed new music.
So in 1978 she came out with her first album without Ike, called "Rough". It was a mix of modern songs and music in the style of the Revue. The album was not the big success she had hoped for. For some reason the album missed the chemistry referred to so often in the music industry. Tina decided she wanted to team up with a manager and a new record company who had the same ideas about music as she had.
One year later Tina came in contact with the management of Olivia Newton-John. One of the workers of this management company, 27-year-old Roger Davies from Australia, visited her show in San Francisco. Roger had always been a huge fan of Tina and later that evening agreed to become her new manager. While Davies tried to find a record deal in the States, Tina had to find ways of making money.
She agreed to do a tour in South Africa and after that a tour through Australia and South East Asia. It was then that Roger Davies expressed his concerns to Tina about the show she was putting on. He thought the whole entourage was not doing her voice justice. So he proposed to Tina to change everything, band and dancers included. He wanted to see young and energetic musicians on stage and, he added, they should start making more rock and roll music. Tina liked the whole idea and therefore agreed.
Around the summer of 1981 Tina had completed the metamorphosis and with a new band and new songs she was ready for the audience again. Davies arranged a series of shows at the Ritz in New York to get her back in the spotlight again. One of the spectators was Rod Stewart, who invited Tina to appear with him on a TV show. Later that year, Tina attended a concert of the Rolling Stones. After the concert Keith Richard asked Tina to join them for three concerts, so together with Mick Jagger she performed the song "Honky Tonk Woman". It was by then that the music industry started to sense the comeback of a star.
Early 1982 she took a brief trip to the UK to record a song with the British Electric Foundation. This band was formed by Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh who wanted to use the latest methods in music and wanted to record with their favourite artists. Back in the US things were not going well for Tina and her manager. She had to go back to the Ritz for another series of performances to keep the cash flowing in. One night David Bowie visited the show with a few important people from Capitol Records. The people from the record company were overwhelmed by Tina's show and were quick to offer her the record deal she had been waiting for.
Now they had to decide what to record as Tina's first single for Capitol. Roger Davies contacted Ware and Marsh in London who again immediately asked her to come over. They recorded two songs, David Bowie's "1984" and "Let's Stay Together". The last song was released in the UK at the end 1983 and became a huge hit. The song was released the next year across Europe and had a similar effect on the charts throughout the continent. Initially Capitol Records did not think the song was suited for the American market. But they soon changed their minds when radio stations all over the country started to play the song. Now they wanted to release an album as soon as possible.
In April 1984 Tina went to London again to record "Private Dancer" in just two weeks. The song "What's Love Got To Do With It" was released the same month. Tina started touring the States with Lionell Richie. In June that year the album was released. Two more hits came from the album, "Better Be Good To Me" and the song "Private Dancer" written by Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler.
With the success of this new album, Tina expressed her desire for making a movie to Roger Davies. Soon after she was asked by George Miller to appear in his new movie "Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome" as the evil Auntie Entity. In the summer of 1985 the filming of the movie started. Tina also signed for the movie's soundtrack called "We Don't Need Another Hero".
In the same year she also participated in USA for Africa, a project for the needs of the third world. "We Are The World" was recorded by a lot of artists considered to be the top of the bill in the music industry, Michael Jackson, Wham!, Duran Duran, the Rolling Stones, to name but a few. Later that year she appeared in another charity project, Bob Geldof's Live Aid. She performed a duet with old time friend Mick Jagger.
Early 1986 Tina participated in the Prince's Trust concert in London and duets with Paul McCartney on the song "Get Back". In 1986 also her next album "Break Every Rule" was released, from it the songs "Typical Male", "Two People" and "What you see is what you get" were released as singles. The album was followed by a world tour spanning from early 1987 until summer 1988. A live album "Live In Europe" was recorded during this tour. The duet with David Bowie, "Tonight", was taken as single from this album and proved to be a tremendous success for her as it stormed the charts across the world.
It took a year after that before we heard from Tina again. In August 1989 the first single from a new album was released, called "The Best". A month after that the album itself, "Foreign Affair", was released. It was a huge success across the world, in the UK it entered the album charts straight at number 1. "I Don't Wanna Lose You" and "Steamy Windows" were the next two singles released from the album. In April 1990 the Foreign Affair world tour kicked off. It was the biggest European tour until then, with 125 shows and an audience of 3.5 million people.
In September of 1991 a greatest hits album was released under the title "Simply The Best". Two months later "It's The Way Of The World" was released as single to accompany the album. The album also contained the 90's version of "Nutbush City Limits". Again records were being broken as the album sold 6 million copies to date.
In 1992 Tina signed another record deal, this time with Virgin Records. A year later "I Don't Wanna Fight" was released as a single. In the same year the autobiographic movie "What's Love Got To Do With It" was shot, starring Angela Bassett as Tina Turner. The movie was received with criticism by the media, but embraced by the large audience and her fans in particular.
In 1995 Tina teamed up with Bono and The Edge from U2 to record the title track for the Bond movie "GoldenEye". The song was to be included on her brand new studio album, "Wildest Dreams", released in the spring of 1996. Five more singles helped making the album a success, "Whatever you want", "On Silent Wings", "Missing You", "Something Beautiful Remains" and "In Your Wildest Dreams".
In 1998 Italian singer Eros Ramazzotti invited Tina to duet with him on his major hit single "Cose Della Vita". While the original version sung in Italian by Ramazzotti remained popular in Italy only, the Tina-enhanced version, bilingual this time, became a hit single across Europe, accompanied by a video in which Turner looked more beautiful than ever.
In her private life Tina also finally found the happiness she deserved. With her new love, record executive Erwin Bach, the singer divides her time between a home in Zurich, Switzerland and real estate in the south of France, as she has chosen the continent where she was greeted so warmly back in the sixties to be her new home.
In October last year Tina initiated yet another phase of her career. With "When The Heartache Is Over", "Whatever You Need", the album "Twenty Four Seven" and a world tour to top it off she is back in the spotlight. Although many thought she would have stopped by now, she keeps astonishing the world of entertainment with her music and energetic performances.
She's an artist who with every right can be called a diva. We definitely have not seen the last of Tina Turner! As she put it herself so many times when people asked her for the moment when she would finally quit: "People all over the world keep asking me when I'm going to slow down, but I'm just getting started!"