Tina Turner: the making of a rock'n'roll revolutionary (2023)

TIna Turner was a giant of the decade, bringing us Elnett's soaring hairdo and dazzling pop arena. Her hoarseness, sensuality, sultry vocals and unstoppable energy were her trademarks and still evoke the kind of euphoria still synonymous with rock'n'roll. But in the mid-1980s—the beginning of her second stint as a solo artist—she also made history, making these bold moves as a middle-aged African-American entertainer who had overcome serious personal and professional obstacles to reach the top.

Working with a team of white British songwriters, producers and rock stars – including Mark Knopfler, Jeff Beck and Heaven 17's Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh – she became the rare artist who transcended racial lines and genres and matched the fluid clutches of superstars. of the 1980sMichael Jackson,MadonnaandPrins, as well as her friendDavid Bowie, who was also in the process of directing a massive return to the limelight. Dear Tina. Wild Tina. Sui generis Tina. Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years, Tina: 1984's Tina is the one most of us know best – a storm blowing through pop – but her radical past relationship with rock music is often overshadowed by the heroic and inspiring biography.

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It's easy to fall for the romantic and all-too-real triumph of Turner's story, made legendary by Angela Bassett's (pre-Michelle Obama) seminal performance in the 1993 biopic What's Love Got to Do With It, in which the sassy singer escapes her monstrous husband. Because of this, the story of her amazing ingenuity as a musician slips away.

Her uniqueness as an artist is undeniable. Turner combined sound and movement at a critical turning point in rock history, navigating and reflecting the technological innovations of a new era of pop music in the 60s and 70s. She spearheaded a musical revolution that had long marginalized and ignored the pioneering contributions of African-American women, then reinvented herself at an age when most pop musicians were entering the oldies circuit. Turner's musical persona has always been a charged combination of mystery as well as light, melancholic mixing with a ferocity that often flirted with danger. So perfect for a big budget musical.

The creative team behind Tina: The Musical includes award-winning playwright;Katori Halland the Tony-nominated directorPhyllida Lloyd. Their collective efforts represent what may actually be a new and welcome female-led trend in popular culture, where stories about black female musicians are told by women. Director Dee Rees' 2015 biopic of blues singer Bessie Smith (Bessie, starring Queen Latifah) andLiz Garbush's Oscar-nominated documentary about Nina Simone(What happened, Miss Simone?) both come to mind. Hall and Lloyd have the added benefit of receiving direct input from Turner herself, and the casting of Tony-nominated lead actress Adrienne Warren promises that this Tina will come at us with nuance and range.

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All this volatility, pleasure, drama and fearlessness has a story. Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee, she moved with her family to St. Louis at the age of 11. As a teenager, she frequented rhythm and blues clubs with her sister, jumping from the crowd to the stage with Ike and his Kings of Rhythm in a partnership that would become rock and roll iconography, full of physical and emotional abuse and exploitation, and Ike's frequent public displays of dominance.

Dubbing Tina and dressing her in long-haired wigs to evoke the Tarzan movie aesthetic, the would-be Svengalis attempted to invent a stage persona for his future wife that deliberately channeled old-school Hollywood primitivism. He was meant to pimp her into their act as animalistic, wild, wild and untamed. Caught between two kinds of patriarchy—in her home and in the rock'n'roll market, where racist sexuality was all game—Turner's resistance was hard for some to read during those tumultuous years. She and the revue immersed themselves in the bohemian rock of the late 60s, worked as an opening act for the Rolling Stones and delivered the anguished interpretation of Otis Redding's I've Been Loving You Too Long, captured in the 1970 Altamont concert film. Maysle's brothers. , Give me shelter.

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In this excruciating sequence, where the camera cuts close to Tina, she sings a song about the suffering and addiction of love as she caresses the microphone and utters the sadistic chorus, "Sock it to me!" as Ike floats right out of frame. From the sidelines,Mick Jaggershe sees what black feminist scholar Saidiya Hartman might call this "scene of subjugation" unfolding for the masses. (Fifteen years later, the couple willplaying together at Live Aid, in which Jagger cuts off Turner's trademark miniskirt in a move that epitomizes the racial and ethnic vulnerabilities she faced throughout her life.)

In this context, the tightly choreographed go-go abandon and vicious high step—Turner's ultimate signature moves—could be read as their own fugitive escape strategies, dynamic articulations of bodily action amid patriarchal power. She and her spinning companions, the Ikettes, introduced a new kind of rock'n'roll dancing—the kind that would eventually give these so-called"Moves Like Jagger"– getting rid of the stiffness in the girls' choreography.

But it was Turner's voice that spelled liberation even louder than her moves, and which also crystallized the era's rebellious changes in rock'n'roll songwriting. WhileLille Richardsquealed his queer pleasures andJames Brownscreamed funk rebellion - and the Brits who idolized them followed suit, Turner turned her abrasive timbre and bold vocals into a song that resonated with the newly emboldened spirit of a budding pop phenomenon.

Elvis Presley's power, Tina Turner's legs: musicians choose their biggest influenceRead more

As Kurt Loder notes in the best-selling memoir I, Tina, which I co-wrote with Turner, "her voice combined the emotional power of the great blues singers with a clean, pure tapestry power that seemed tailor-made for the era of amplification." It was a voice powerful enough to match the high voltage of rock, the new offshoot that turned up the volume on the electric guitar to maximum effect—and, as anthropologist Maureen Mahon has pointed out, depended on the "audible blackness" of the electric guitar. black female backup singers such as Sweet Inspiration andGive me shelterby the admirable Merry Clayton.

Turner turned down the backup position. Her dissonant singing style was a complete rejection of that role and a seemingly deliberate statement that she could combine her voice with immersive, modern sound. Her voice brought a new kind of noise to folk singing – full of what critic Simon Reynolds describes as: "drops, deflections, gaps, use of space and architecture ... competing atmospheres and idioms, sampled from random points in pop history. The result is psychedelia. " Jagger would say the same about I, Tina: “Tina's voice was very strong, and also very idiosyncratic – it stands out easily. River Deep – Mountain High was a great record because it had the voice to come throughPhil Spectorof the so-called sound barrier".

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Like her insistent dancing, Turner's voice was her escape hatch, weapon and compass. We know he enjoyed the freedom of working with Spector. "Ike always wanted me to scream and yell to his songs — to sell them," Turner wrote in his memoir. Instead, Spector asked her to "stick to the melody. He just wanted me to sing the song. It was my voice he liked, not the scream. He told me I had an extremely unusual voice... and that's why he wanted to admit me." She credits him with encouraging her to use her voice to tell a story and not just create plays to make Ike's "money move."

Turner's rock'n'roll identity was ultimately her gateway out of her marriage to Ike and into her solo career. Although the rock circuit (and covering the Beatles and Creedence Clearwater Revival) would prove a lucrative way toIke and Tina Revyto expand their fan base, it was Tina who, when she filed for divorce in 1976, had turned entirely to rock as an appeal, asserting her right to perform music that 1920s blues queens (Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey) laid down up to. the way and where the 1940s and 50s made their mark (Sister Rosetta Tharpeand Big Mama Thornton) had critically assisted in the invention.

She created her own interpretation of sonic blackness and femininity while performing in the 70s, finding a new home for her voice as the "acid queen" in the 1975 adaptation of the rock opera Tommy. And she turned to a whole new set of covers – Under My Thumb, Let's Spen the Night Together, I Can See for Miles, Whole Lotta Love – turning these male (and often misogynistic) tales of power, desire, independence and sexual prowess into the sound of the brave and uninhibited, sexually and socially confident woman.

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Turner's heir to the throne was a long time comingBeyoncé, who paid tribute to her ancestor in 2005 at the annual Kennedy Center Honors: “Once in a while, when I think of inspiration, I think of the two Tina's in my life—that's my mother, Tina, and of course the amazing Tina Turner ... » Three years later, during the opening performance of the 2008 Grammy Awards, the lovefest continued with Beyoncé celebrating the history of black musicians and ending her set by introducing "the queen" (a line thatAretha FranklinI willknown competition) to sway, "nice and easy," right next to her. The lyrics in Beyoncé and Jay-Z's Drunk in Love, where the rapper references a scene from the biopic where Ike abuses Tina - "eat the cake, Anna Mae!" – was a less fitting tribute.

Beyond Beyoncé, Turner's legacy remains rich and varied in the world of pop, from her neo-soulMeshell Ndegocello(who recently released a brooding, dark rendition of Private Dancer) to the underrated white funk singer Nikka Costa (whose2005 Ike and Tina barnburner coverFunkier Than a Mosquito's Tweeter revived the duo's brand of nasty, in-your-face battle funk, all sweat and confrontation).

We see her sassy and shiny knees every timeRihannatakes the stage, even a rapperCardi B, with its staid attitude and unpredictable atmosphere, owes Turner something of a debt. In our age of #MeToo and unapologetic pop womenreclaim their time, Tina: The musical should remind us of the sister who kicked in the door this time with legs and all.

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What did Rod Stewart say about Tina Turner? ›

Tina, who died, aged 83, last month, struck up a friendship with Rod in the early 1980s before they famously duetted on It Takes Two in 1990. Sir Rod, 78, told the Mirror: “I can't say enough about her. She was a wonderful, wonderful, woman. “Never swore.

How much money was Ike Turner worth when he died? ›

Ike is probably best-known for his work with his then-wife Tina Turner. At the time of his death his fortune was estimated at 500 thousand dollars, according to the website celebritynetworth.com. Ike Turner died of an accidental cocaine overdose, the San Diego medical examiner said.

Is Tina Turner in contact with her children? ›

Why was Tina Turner so special? ›

She was noted for her "swagger, sensuality, powerful gravelly vocals and unstoppable energy", along with her well-publicized history with ex-husband Ike Turner and her famous legs.


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