The woman, pardon the wrong term, the LEGEND above, is a huge inspiration. Her story is beyond a rags-to-riches tale. It’s a survivor’s tale. You probably know all about Tina Turner’s abusive marriage to Ike Turner from the phenomenal movie What’s Love Got To Do With It, starring the dynamic Angela Bassett as Tina and Laurence Fishburne as the chillingly psychotic Ike Turner. If you haven’t seen it, let me go Siskel on you for a moment- see it. You won’t be disappointed. Despite her everyday nightmare of a marriage, the music still called Tina. And thankfully for the rest of the world, Tina still shook, rattled, and rolled with her muse.
Private Dancer was released in May of 1984. It was Tina’s fifth solo album, she was the age of 45, and it was her breakthrough. It was a worldwide smash, spawning four songs that were top 10 hits in the United States; “Let’s Stay Together”, “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “Private Dancer”, and “Better Be Good To Me”. The album won three Grammy awards back in the days when they still meant something and were still fun to watch (in case you live under a rock, those days are long past). The videos were a smash, Tina’s concert tour was a smash, she was already beginning work on her autobiography, I, Tina; she was everywhere. More importantly than that, she was discovered by a whole new audience while re-igniting the long dormant ashes of her audience that had been with her through Ike Turner’s Kings of Rhythm and The Ike & Tina Turner Revue. Unlike many acts before her, she got a second chance. And she ran with it. There were a string of bestselling albums following, the autobiography was a New York Times bestseller for over a year, and a multitude of awards were awarded to “The Queen of Rock.” No one was more deserving.
Tina first came into my orbit one night in Summit while having a sleepover at my friend Crystal Reed’s house. It was August of 1984 and I was stranded in front of the TV with Crystal watching this phenomenal and utterly addictive cable channel called MTV. I had been out with her throwing rocks at cars over the overpass, but the heat began to get to us, so we ditched her brother Ronnie who was riding his bike, and went into their little apartment. Her mom brought us lemonade and sugar cookies (probably not the best idea!) and we plopped down in front of the TV. I was waiting for Duran Duran (still am waiting) and I heard this song start. A ship rolling through the harbor, and a shock of wild hair. The woman turned around, the song began, and I was transfixed. She had style, grit, and swagger. And as Ronnie helpfully pointed out upon walking in from his bike riding, she had killer legs (not my cup of java, but I report indiscriminately). The song, obviously, was “What’s Love Got To Do With It”. I had it stuck in my head the rest of the day and beyond that. The first album I bought when my aunt Colleen gave us the awesome white phonograph that resembled the starboard of the USS Enterprise? “Private Dancer”. I still have it. Definitely not in great shape, but the record still plays and it still sounds fresh, soulful, and raspy. The sounds of a survivor rising from the ashes like the phoenix in leather skirts that she is.
Private Dancer still stands the test of time nowadays. The rest of the album itself is flawless. There isn’t a shite song on it. You have your well-honed and oft-played anthems named, as well as other unreleased gems. “I Might Have Been Queen” could easily have been Tina’s anthem. “Show Some Respect”, possibly an autobiographical slap at Ike and any man who wanted to co-anchor her roost. “I Can’t Stand The Rain”, a slow brown-eyed soul dirge, that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Ike and Tina catalogue of days of old. “Steel Claw”, a song unlike any I’ve heard in her entire catalog before or since (and a sign of her rock and roll side coming out). “Help!”, her very distinct take on the Beatles classic, and last but not least, “1984”, her very unique take on the David Bowie classic from his solo record “Diamond Dogs”. The album is a winning combination of soul, rock, funk, and Tina. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.