Friday, November 26, 2010
ROCK SOUL QUEEN CELEBRATES 71ST BIRTHDAY AND 50 YEARS IN SHOW BIZ
"71 years old and a survivor"
When Rock/Soul Tina Turner appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in February 2005 to promote her greatest hits CD "All The Best," she was asked if she would ever resume touring again. Turner said that if she didn't want to give a show that wasn't so great. Well three years later, Tina had everybody excited when she announced that she was coming out of retirement, and once again she showed the world that age is just a number, and she could still rock with the best of them.
Fans have loved Tina for her voice, looks, and her trademark legs, but many love her for her ability to beat the odds, and take risks, and by doing so, she became one of the industry's most love, respected, and admireded legends, and this story celebrates her golden anniversary.
Tina was born on November 26, 1939 in Nutubsh Tennesse as Anna Mae Bullock to the late Floyd & Zelma Bullock as the youngest of two sisters, who were forced to live with several relatives due to her parents' fights, with Tina spending time with her grandparents and a white family, who provided her the love she lacked from her parents and a neighbor names Ms. Blake, who introduced Tina to the Penecostal church, where she quickly fell in love with the how the congregation honored God by dancing and singing, to the point where she became a member of the choir.
"It was fun to me" Turner wrote in her memoirs "I, Tina." So much more exciting than the Baptist chruch I knew back in Nut Bush. Here I was, dancing and singing, for the first time. It was wild." Turner's mother and church members noticed that how strong her singing voice was, and they noticed her ambitions to be an actress.
"She had a great voice then" Tina's late mother added in "I, Tina." "She would go to the movie, and if it was a musical, she would come home and sing the songs and act out the parts that she remembered seein'."
When she wasn't in church or in school, she was picking cotton and berries, something that many Blacks had to do and hated. Tina hated it to the point where she would dream about life outside of the cotton fields. Shorty after her 16th birthday, Tina's mother had asked her to join her and her sister Alline in St. Louis to finish high school, and as soon as she arrived, she was amazed at the number of Night Clubs that were around the city, and she soon found herself spending nights at The Emperial and The Manhattan, where she watched singer/musician Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm perform, and give the mic to a girl to sing, and like many Tina wanted to get on stage to showcase her voice. Ike was reluctant, but that didnt stop Tina.
"Many times other girls has stood up to sing and I knew they couldn't as well as I could. Even before my voice was fully developed" Tina said on "Behind The Music."
One night when her sister declined to sing, Tina grabbed the mic and performed the BB Kings classic "(Darling You Know) I Love You," and blew everybody in the club away, Including Ike, who couldn't hold his composure.
"I heard this voice come out the speaker and I said 'wow who's that? I looked around and saw it was that little girl out front and I was like Damn! She can sing!" Ike said on "Behind the Music." "Her voice was really raspy and really didn't sound high pitch like a girl. I liked it."
After that "Little Ann" as she was called at that time began to perform with the Kings of Rhythms performing at clubs, bars and college parties around the midwest, receiving rave review from the fans, who flocked to see them.
"That was the beginning of my local stardom. He was a really nice person at that time. We were like brother and sister" Tina said of the early stages of their relationship.
"That was the relaronship we had, and that's what we projected onstage" Ike added. "Two buddies. Two good friends."
During the course of their friendship, Little Ann had learned that Ike had wrote and produced for other artists, who had left him when they became successful. Little Ann decided to be loyal to her friend.
"I said to him if we ever got a hit record Ike, I won't leave you like the others" she said on ABC in 1993.
"I meant it."
One of the fans who was captivated by the duo was singer Bonnie Bramlett, a White music lover, who was part of the duo Delanney & Bonnie and an one time member of the band.
"That was around the time I firsr saw them, and it was devestating" she added in Turner's memoirs. "I thought she was the greatest thing I'd ever seen in my life. She made me cry-yes I stood there and cried like an idoit. I knew right away that that was what I wanted to do, too. And I wanted to do it just like her."
Wanting to become more that local singers, Ike had the band go to the recording studio to record a song he wrote called "A Fool In Love" which he originally recorded for a singer names Art Lassiter, who didn't want to pay him, so Ike had asked Little Ann to record the song, and once she stepped to the mike, the band watched her make history. Ike had sent the demo to several record companies, including Sue Records, who told Ike to keep Little Ann's voice on the song.
"I was gonna erase her" Ike revealed. "That was the intention, and when she got to the part when you're screaming 'hey, hey, hey, hey, hey! Wow! They (the excutives) said don't erase her. Keep her!"
Ike secured a deal with Sue Records and when the record was released, Little Ann was shocked to learn that Ike renamed the Kings & Rhythms The Ike & Tina Turner Revue.
Tina was grateful for the opporunity, but she didn't like how they relationship went from being brother-sister to romantic and she didn't like his controling ways and affairs he was having with several women, so when she told Ike she wanted out of their relationship, Ike responded with violence.
"I had no place to go" Tina said on why she stayed with him.
In addition to Ike, Tina had also was a mother. Tina had a son with former saxophonist Raymond Hill and in addition to the son she had with Ike, Tina was also raising Ike's two sons from his relationship with ex-girlfriend Lorraine Taylor, who gave the boys to the couple to raise.
The duo had other hits that followed including "It's Gonna Work Out Fine" and
from then on Tina had performed with Ike doing a series of one-nighters all around the U.S. performing at Juke Joints, Bars, Clubs, and theatres including New York City's famous Apollo and The Howard in Washington D.C. often sharing the bill with many acts, including Gladys Knight, who Tina gave her first make-over.
"If you think Tina can put on a show, you ought to see her apply foundation, not to mention blush, eyeshadow, and mascara" Knight wrote in her memoirs "Between Each Line of Pain and Glory." She arched eyebrows I didn't know I had, and created cheekbones where there has only been cheek before. By the time she put down the eyeliner pencils, I didn't recognize myself."
Knight's face wasn't the only thing she gave a make-over; she had changed the face of music with her singing and dancing. While most females at that time wore long gowns, Turner work short dresses that displayed her trademark legs, while she and the background singers The Ikettes, performed routines that were energetic, and sexual, that had females emulating and men watching. One of those men who were watching was legendary producer/songwriter Phil Spector, who had created a string of hits for the Ronnettes using his trademark wall sound. Spector had co-wrote a song called "River Deep, Mountain High" and once he saw Ike & Tina perform at a television show, he knew that she was the one who would do a great job, so he approached and paid Ike $20,000 for the use of Tina's voice; with one condition, Ike was not allowed to enter the studio, and when Tina heard the song, she was estastic because she had been yearning to do something different musicwise.
"I loved that song. Because for the first time in my life, it wasn't just R&B-it had structure, it had a melody" Tina wrote in her memoirs. "You see, Ike would always have me screaming and shouting on his songs-selling them you know?"
Like the public, the inprisoned producing legend noticed and prasied Tina's unique singing voice. "He had told me I had an extremely unusual voice, that he never heard a woman's voice like mine, and that's why he wanted to record me."
"Tina just symbolized to me the best what I needed at that time" Spector said.
The song was released in the spring of 1966, and despite glowing reviews, the song peaked A # 88 shocking, Tina, Spector and critics who felt that the song should have been a bigger hit, and while others were disappointed, Tina saw it as a acheivement, because it showed her that she had the capability to sing other forms of music, and she could do things on her own. "I never sung like that before and I wanted it. And now it's a classic." While the U.S. didn't pay the song any mind, U.K. listeners and artists loved it, helping push the song to # 3 in Britian, and receiving an invitation to tour the U.K. with The Rolling Stones, who became great friends with Tina, who gave the group's lead singer Mick Jagger how to dance. It was also where Tina felt appreciation, love and comfort, as well as learning that the European fans (Both Black & White) appreciated great music and that she didn't have to limit herself musically, and Tina decided to do that by getting Ike to include Rock songs into their reportiore, which gave the band new life, and an larger fan base, who loved seeing her perform The Rolling Stone's "Honkey Talk Woman" and The Beatles "Come Together" and "Get Back" but the duo would hit the jackpot when in their 1971 rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival's classic "Proud Mary" peaked at # 4 on the Pop Charts, becoming their first gold single, and earning Tina her first Grammy Award for Best R&B Duo. The success of the single earned them slots on The Ed Sullivan Show, Soul Train, The Sonny & Cher and it also got them more bookings outside of the chitling curcuit. The success also prompted Tina to start writing songs, and in 1973 her self-penned tune "Nutbush City Limits" became a Top 20 hit in the U.S. and reached # 2 in Great Britian making it the last top 40 hit she would have with Ike, who had developed a serious addiction to cocaine, which made him more abusive towards Tina, who nearly died of Tuberlosis due to Ike's refusal for taking time off from performing and recording in his newly built recording studio. By then Tina had began to look for a way out, and in 1974, Ike's short term secreatary named Carol Dryer had introduced Tina to Buddishism, which gave her comfort, and strength she been looking for.
"I found that when I chanted the words, I felt different, I felt better, I felt lighter about things" She said on Vh-1.
It also had frightened Ike to the point where he freaked out to the point where he asked her to removed the candles from their house. She did, but she continued to chant whenever she got a chance, and she saw doors opening for her. She appeared in the movie musical "Tommy" and later appeared on co-star Ann-Margret's television special, but Tina hadn't was still searching for a way to leave Ike. On July 1st, 1976, the duo was headed to Dallas Texas to kick off another tour, and while many were preparing to celebrate Independence Day, Tina decided to celebrate as well. Ike had started another fight, but this time Tina decided to inform her husband that his days of mistreating her was over. When they got in the limosine, Ike struck her and she told him Alright I told you I would stay with you adhelp you through this period but no more licks." When Ike struck her again, Tina fought him back.
"It sure felt great" she said of how great it felt fighting back.
"I think my hand bounce because I hit so hard." Tina hit, kicked and scracthed Ike all the way to they got to the hotel, and once Ike went to sleep, she made her escape. With only 36 cents and a mobile card in her pocket, she fled to another hotel, asked to speak to the manager, told him her plight and asked if she could have a room and that she would pay him back. The manager gave her a room, placed , security outside her room and gave her some food. The next day, she flew to Los Angeles, filed for divorced, and hid out with friends working as a maid. "I moved from place to place for two months working my way at each one-housekeeping and cleaning, just like I had for the White woman back in Tennessee" she wrote in her memoirs. "And I know how to clean. I didn't have any money. I didn't have anything at all. So I paid my rent by cleaning." When Ike did find her, she had let him know that she wasn't going by his wife or music partner again. In other words, she was moving on without him. During the divorce proceedings, Tina learned that she was entitled to half of their assets, which caused even more friction, so Tina told her attorney to let him keep everything because her freedom was more important than material things. Tina would later get those material things by working hard. Because she had walked off the final tour, she found herself liable for the debts, and instead of crying about it, she handled her resposbilities and launched her solo career by appearing on television variety shows and performing in Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and Candian Casinos, earning several standing ovations, and a strong conncection with Gay fans, and while the Casinos paid good money, she didn't want to remain a cabinet act for long. That would happen with the help of Roger Davies, the man who became her manager.
"I didn't want to promise that we could deliver" Davies said.
"I knew about the Ike & Tina records, but I didn't know about her as a solo act."
Turner convinced him to watch her perform at a hotel in San Francisco, and he was impressed with the first show, but when he saw the second show was just as good, Davies signed on as her manager, and when he asked Tina what direction she wanted to go in, she informed him that she was tired of singing about heartache, pain and the blues. She wanted to sing ballads, songs about romance and Rock & Roll.
Davies believed in her vision and told her she needed a new band of young energetic musicians, and to eliminate the beaded gowns and long flowing hair. Tina loved the idea and with her new band, she had performed at the famous Ritz Club becoming the talk of the town, prompting the owner to book her again, and it became a bigger success. The night of her performance Rod Stewart asked her to join him on Saturday Night Live to perform his classic "Hot Legs." A few days later, The Rolling Stones asked Tina to open for them during their 3 night appearance at a 20,000 seat arena, where Tina received lots of loves from the crowd. It was that love that made Tina decide that she wanted to play stadiums and arenas. Davies had worked hard to get Tina a record deal, but most U.S. labels weren't interested due to her association with Ike, while many felt that she was a has been, and the ones who were interested wanted her to record R&B and Dance records as well as songs about heartache and Tina told them like she told her manager, she didn't want to be pigeonholed and she wanted to sing Rock and songs about romance, so Davies knowning how the British Market had appreciated Tina had her record with many London- based artists, who believed in Tina's direction, and one of the first songs she recorded was a modern day version of The Temptations' classic "Ball of Confusion" which became an instant hit in England prompting Capitol Records to sign her, but before she began to record, the label went through major changes and she was closed to being dropped until executive John Carter went to the new label's president and got on his knees and pleased, while singer David Bowie told the execuitves that he was gonna spend his first night in New York watching Tina Turner perform at the Ritz. Once excutives saw her show, they kept her and in 1983 Tina released her version of Al Green's classic "Let's Stay Together" which became a top 5 R&B hit and top 20 Pop hit. Impressed, the label wanted Tina to record an album quickly, so she returned to England, and within two weeks, her classic solo album "Private Dancer" was in stores selling around the world making it the third biggest selling album of 1984, selling ten million copies world wide thanks the hits "Better Be Good To Me," "Show Some Respect" and "What's Love Got To Do With It" which became Tina's first # 1 Pop hit peakin at # 1 the same time she first charted with " A Fool In Love" 24 years earlier thanks to her videos being played on New York City Hot Tracks, Friday Night Videos, MTV, BET and Video Music Box. The success of the album earned Tina 2 American Music Awards and 3 Grammy awards, where she won song of the year and became the first female to earn Grammies in the Catergories of R&B, Rock and Pop. In 1985, Tina fulfilled a long time dreamed when she starred with Mel Gibson in the hit film "Mad Max 3: Beyond Thunderdome" and scored another gold single with the hit "We Don't Need Another Here (Thunderdome)" peaking at # 2. She also embarked on a successful tour and teamed with Bryan Adams on the classic "It's Only Love." The following year was a big year for Turner careerwise; she earned an American Music And Grammy Award for her rock single "One of The Living." She also earned a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, released her best selling autobiography "I, Tina" and her multi-platnium follow up "Break Every Rule" which contained the hits "Typcial Male" which peaked at # 2, "Two People" and "What You Get Is What You See." She also earned another Grammy for "Back Where You Started" and embarked on another successful stadium tour, stopping in Rio, where over 100,000 fans showed up, making her the first female to have a successful stadium tour.
In 1989 Tina released her album "Foreign Affair" which Tina served as co-excutive producer and co-produced two of the songs with Dan Hartman including "The Best" which became her signature song, and while the album got great reviews including four stars in Black Beat Magazine, the album only went Gold in the U.S. but did better overseas debuting at # in the U.K. while the follow up singles "Steamy Windows" & "Look Me In The Heart" did well on the U.K. charts. A year later, Tina decided to take a long overdue vacation, and during her time off, she decided to relocate to Europe permantely, and spend quality time with her beau German Executive Erwin Bach, who is celebrating their 24 year together as a live-in couple.
"I'm not in love with the Rock star" Bach said on 20/20
"I'm in love with a human being."
1991 was a another year for Tina though she wasn't touring; both she and Ike were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and she released a Greatest hits album titled "Simply The Best" which in addition to containing her solo hits, it included the classic "River Deep" a new version of her classic "Nutbush City Limits" and three new singles including "Love Thang," "Way of The World" and "I Want You Near Me."
2 years later, Disney had produced the film "What's Love Got To Do With It?" based on her memoirs, with Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne playing the roles of Tina and Ike earning them Oscar nominations, while the film's soundtrack went multi-platnium, scoring a top ten hit with "I Don't Wanna Fight" and earned several awards and nominations, while her American tour grossed millions in ticket sales and while many turned out to see the film, Turner opted not to.
"To be honest Kurt, I hope I don't have to see it" she told journalist Kurt Lorder.
"I lived it. I don't have to see it."
In 1995 Tina was tapped by Bono & The Edge of U2 to record the theme for the movie "Golden Eye" and it became a huge hit in the UK, prompting the label to have Tina do another album and tour. Something she was not ready to do at that time, but once she started to receives songs, Turner decided to have fun recording it and she decided to work with some new producers including Trevor Horn who enjoyed working with the Icon. "It was fun" Horn said on Turners "In Your Wildest Dreams" DVD "I did some more." Turner felt the same thing. "Music changes all the time. It's modern, but it's me." Many critics felt the same and when she released the album "Wildest Dreams," it quickly went multi-platnium overseas and gold in the U.S. due to the hits "Missing You" and "In Your Wildest Dreams" which featured the late Barry White rapping and singing with Tina making it one of the hottest and requested R&B singles of 1997. Turner had embarked on her first global tour in ten years, selling out arenas in Amsterdam, but her career got hot when she appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, and performed the title track as well as spoke about her life, career, and learning to appreciate her legs in her late 40's. Turner also had Winfrey perform a dance routine with her onstage which helped the Talk show get high ratings while rapper Warren G & singer Adina Howard remade Turner's classic "What's Love Got To Do With It.
1999 turned out to be another year for the Rock Queen. She opened the VH-1 Divas concert performing her classics with Elton John and Cher as well as celebrating her 60th with a television special in the U.K. She also released her platnium album "Twenty Four Seven" and annoucned to the world that she was going to embarking on her last tour. Making the tour special was Turner giving actress/singer Gloria Ruben the opportunity to sing background for her which she did for the first leg of the tour before she hiring Lisa Fischer to finish the rest of the tour which grossed over $100 million dollars outselling N-Synch and Dr Dre. While Tina was enjoying her retirment, many artists have spoke about how much they were influenced by her talent and legacy including rapper Lil' Kim, who listed her as one of her idols, while Destiny's Child had included "Proud Mary" during their 2002 world tour. For their 50th Anniversary special, The Four Tops asked Original Supreme Mary Wilson to perform their rendition of "River Deep Mountain High" while Austrialian group Human Nature asked Wilson to record the song on their 3rd Motown tribute album "Get Ready" as well as asking her to join them on special in their homeland. In 2003, Tina started to reemerge back in the spotlight; she teamed with Phil Collins to the single "Great Spirits" for the "Big Bear" soundtrack. 2 years later she released her double CD "All the Best" which debut at # 2 on the US charts while her single "Open Arms" became a huge hit and shortly after Carols Santana finally released his and Turner's version of the hit "The Game of Love" but the highlight for Tina was when she was honored at the Kennedy Center Award for contributions to music, where many famous performers paid tribute to her with song including Rapper/Singer/Actress Queen Latifah, Rock Lesbian Singer Melissa Etheridge, former Destiny's Child lead singer Beyonce Knowles and Al Green. After spending another two years away from the spot light, the Rock legend decided to take out her heels for another round, and one of the first stops she made was on the 50th Grammy Awards where Knowles introduced Tina to the crowd and later teamed up with her to perform the classic "Proud Mary" making it the most talked about performance of the Grammy's. On Entertainment Tonight, Turner said that the her reason for performing with Beyonce was to thank her for honoring her at the Kennedy Center three years earlier. She also teamed up with long time friend Cher on Oprah and performed some of their hits, and it was there where Tina made a stunning announcement; she was going back on the road, and as always her concert sold out extremly quickly, with many fans longtime and new coming out to see her do her thang including Electronic/Dance artist Baron, who took his grandmother to see her live.The Velocity Magazine Award winning artist told me what it was like seeing her perform the day after the concert. "It’s funny cause like I told you, I took my grandmother, and my grandmother is not much older than her, so I was thinking Tina Tuner at 69 years old performing for two hours, high energy, power I have no excuse (laughs). I have no excuse not to do what I want to dream People have no excuse for not living their dreams and not to be inspired by it; to go out and do what you love. That’s what I took home; I have no excuse not to."
Tina Turner has beated the odds through out her life, and has managed to pursue her dreams and still serves as an inspiration to everybody around the world, who has faced adversity in their lives. She showed the industry that A sexy Black middle-aged women can enjoy her life and doesn't have to be placed in a box. She also showed the world that you can leave an abusive situation and survive, and she also let the world know that being happy is living out your dreams.