Queen Tina Turner made an appearance at the New York premiere of Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, the Broadway show inspired on her life. She praised the cast on their opening night, thanking them for their support and excitement. The musical, which has opened to positive reviews, chronicles the trials and tribulations of Tina Turner’s life to a soundtrack of her timeless hits.
The first act up opens up with her childhood in Tennessee. Tina Turner, born Anna Mae Bullock, was raised by her grandmother due to her parents tumultuous relationship. Her mother walked out when she was fairly young and took took Anna Mae’s older sister with her, leaving Anna Mae to be raised by her Gran Georgeanna. However, once she grew older, she was invited back to her mother Zelda’s in St. Louis where her older sister, Alline, guided her through St. Louis nightlife.
A Star is Born
While navigating through St. Louis night life, the sisters came across Ike Tuner and his band, the Kings of Rhythm. One night, Anna Mae joins the band on stage and impresses the crowd when she sings “Matchbox,” which leads Ike Turner to ask Zelda’s permission for Anna Mae to join the band. At that point, Ike Turner makes the call to change her name to Tina Turner, much to her refusal. However, this is Ike’s band and so she goes along with it.
They begin to tour and Tina starts to receive more recognition with the group. However, Ike’s temper starts to become an issue and this causes her to hide her relationship from one of the band members, Raymond, whose child she becomes pregnant with. At that point, Ike asks Tina to marry her (since everyone assumes they’re married to begin with), and even though she is pregnant with the other guy’s baby, she agrees to it. At that point, Raymond decides to leave. It is during this time the “Proud Mary” rearrangement becomes one of Tina’s most recognizable songs and brings the duo a grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance in a Group.
Funds out and Troubled Times
With the success of the group also came turmoil for Tina. Ike’s temper and infidelities only worsened. The band’s manager, Rhonda, would urge Tina to leave Ike. However, at the time Turner would continue to forgive Ike, even after hitting her own son. She ends up overdosing and going to the hospital. It is one night when she is battered that she finally decides to make the decision to walk out and rents a hotel room while completely broke, only using her stage name and persona as a promise to pay later on when she has the funds to afford the room.
At this moment is when Tina Turner decides she needs to reinvent herself and turns to Buddhism as her mantra. With new manager, Roger Davies (who was introduced to Tina by Olivia Newton John), she starts to showcase new music and transition to rock and roll, but record labels exectuvies decide to not sign her due to her age. As the story goes, they didn’t believe a black 45 year old woman, even if it was Tina Turner, would be able to accomplish the level of success needed to drive record sales.
However, there was one individual named John Carter at Capitol Records that believed in Turner In 1980, she signed with Capitol and released the single “Let’s Stay Together,” a cover of Al Green’s 1971 hit. The song started to rise on the charts, and this became the predecessor to the return of Tina Turner.
Tina Becomes Our Private Dancer
Tina began to work with English producers Terry Britten, known for his work with Michael Jackson and Olivia Newton John, and Rubert Hine, known for working with Stevie Nicks and Kevin Ayer. Along with the producers, Turner also worked with an array of jazz composers to create her Capitol debut album, Private Dancer. She releases “What’s Love Got To Do With It” in 1984, and the single propels Tina Turner back into super stardom as her most successful hit. Tina ended up receiving 3 Grammy awards for the single in 1985 and was eventually inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012. Private Dancer was well received with positive reviews from the critics, praising her for her evolution of pop, soul, and modern rock in what is now known as her best solo production.
However, then Tina received some news from her sister, Alline, that her mother was dying, at which point she travels back home only to find that Ike has been staying with her mother throughout this time. Zelma asks for them to reconcile, at which point Tina demands an apology. However, Ike is unable to do so and leaves. Tina and Zelma have a confrontation before Zelma passes away. The show concludes with Tina performing in front of an audience of 180,000 people in Brazil.
We’ve learned that since then, Ike had a cocaine addiction and struggled to maintain the same level of success over the years. Tina Turner has since gone on 6 world tours, worked with Bono from U2 for “Goldeneye,” and has been recognized by the Kennedy Center Honors for her lifetime achievement in the American arts.
Time and time again Tina Turner has proved her resilience as a human being. She survived a turbulent relationship while keeping composure in the public eye. Once she overcame her abusive relationship, she was consistently turned down with misogynistic, racist, and ageist remarks that she would never be successful again. She proved all of them wrong and superseded her already established career into global stardom.
Her health hasn’t been the best recently, either. A few weeks after her wedding to Erwin Bach in 2013, she suffered a stroke and had to learn to walk again. She was then diagnosed with intestinal cancer an underwent surgery to remove the cancer. Simultaneously, she was suffering from kidney failure due to high blood pressure, so she went through dialysis and a kidney transplant, donated by her husband. Even after all these circumstances, she’s been resilient enough to come out and speak to her audience, and she continues to thrive for her fans. For all these reasons, Tina Turner proves why she is a living American music legend, and one of our greatest heroes.