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Tina Turner had 36 cents after being beaten by Ike, but knew she'd succeed

WHEN Tina Turner finally walked out of her marriage to the abusive, controlling Ike, she only had 36 cents in her pocket and songs in her heart. She’d known river-deep despair but this is the story… Tina Turner passed away on Wednesday at 83 in Switzerland after a decade of ill health. She had only 36 cents in her pocket and songs in her heart when she walked out of her marriage to Ike, but knew she'd succeed. In the late Seventies, Tina turned to Buddhism and was inspired by the power of her mountain-high career. She still dreamed of “filling concert halls and arenas like the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart” but was $500,000 in debt and had no recording contract. After hooking up with Aussie music executive Roger Davies, Tina was invited to perform at the Ritz club in New York and was invited by the Rolling Stone to sing Honky Tonk Women with Mick Jagger at a vast arena in New Jersey. In 1983, during Tina’s third stint at the ritz, David Bowie invited her to see his favourite singer. She also recorded with a crush in mind and had a hit in the UK before doing well in the US.

Tina Turner had 36 cents after being beaten by Ike, but knew she'd succeed

Published : 2 weeks ago by Simon Cosyns in Entertainment

WHEN Tina Turner finally walked out of her marriage to the abusive, controlling Ike, she only had 36 cents in her pocket and songs in her heart.

She’d known river-deep despair but this is the story of how Britain helped rebuild her mountain-high career.

Tina’s death on Wednesday at 83 in Switzerland, where she lived quietly with long-term partner Erwin Bach, came after a decade of ill health.

It marked the passing of a towering voice, a thrilling live performer — and an inspirational woman who broke down racial divides “with grace, humility and humour”.

She was truly the Queen Of Rock ’n’ Roll.

But in the late Seventies, the star born Anna Mae Bullock in rural Tennessee was on the wane.

As her divorce to violent, drug-abusing Ike went through, she turned to Buddhism, drawing comfort from her faith to get through lean years playing hotel ballrooms, casinos and cocktail bars.

“The venues skewed a little older and tamer than I was used to,” Tina wrote in her memoir My Love Story. “But I was thrilled to be back on stage with musicians and dancers.”

As she hit 40, her indomitable spirit remained as strong as ever.

She still dreamed of “filling concert halls and arenas like the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart” but she was $500,000 (£400,000) in debt and had no recording contract.

It is widely accepted that one of the best things she ever did was hire ambitious young Aussie music executive Roger Davies as her manager.

Davies was familiar with the Ike and Tina song Nutbush City Limits, a huge hit in Australia, and, after some persuasion, watched her perform at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

He loved the sheer vitality of her show, signed her up, became “the brother I never had” and stayed with her for the rest of her working life.

“Tina was a unique and remarkable force of nature with her strength, incredible energy and immense talent,” said Davies this week in his heartfelt tribute. “From the first day I met her in 1980 she believed in herself completely when few others did at that time.”

A year after hooking up with Davies, the first of so many British connections helped catapult Tina to the world stage where she belonged.

First came what she described as her “Cinderella moment” when Rod Stewart was in the house for her concert at the Ritz club in New York’s East Village.

He was so smitten with her rendition of his Hot Legs that he invited her to duet with him on the huge American chat show Saturday Night Live.

Let’s face it, Tina had the hottest, most high-kicking legs in the business, and no one could shimmy and sparkle quite like her.

She affirmed: “It was the beginning of great times for me.”

Next came an invitation from her kindred spirits the Rolling Stones to open some of their North American shows.

She got to sing Honky Tonk Women with Mick Jagger at a vast arena in New Jersey, a precious moment which she said “was everything I’d hoped it would be. That crowd!”

Then, in 1983, during Tina’s third stint at the Ritz, David Bowie decided “to see his favourite singer” rather than celebrate the release of his Let’s Dance album. Suddenly, manager Davies was bombarded with music biz requests to attend the show.

Celebs such as tennis ace John McEnroe and Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon also pitched up and the night finished with a jam in Keith Richards’ hotel room (as you do) — and a recording contract for Tina from major label Capitol Records. The first fruits of her deal came at Abbey Road no less, The Beatles’ hallowed stomping ground.

There Tina did a session with Martyn Ware and Glenn Gregory, of burgeoning synth-pop act Heaven 17.

She recalled: “Martin, who was practically a boy, though a very talented one, happened to think this middle-aged singer had a bright future.”

Tina’s yearning cover of Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, recorded with a certain crush in mind, enhanced her reputation as the “one-take wonder” and was a hit in the UK some weeks before also doing well in the States.

To her delight, she was given the green light for a whole album, resulting in the multi-platinum Private Dancer LP, all done at various studios around London.

It included one of her signature songs, What’s Love Got To Do With It. Incredibly, it had been rejected by Cliff Richard and Donna Summer before first being recorded by cheesy Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz.

The sexy, sultry title track, Private Dancer, was written by another Brit, Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, who became a lifelong friend.

With some amusement, Tina said in her autobiography: “Mark had written it for himself but decided it was better for a woman to sing.

“I can’t even describe how Private Dancer sounded coming from a man, even a very talented man like Mark. Very butch!

“Like something you’d hear in a pub after too many pints had been consumed.”

That song and another, Steel Claw, featured the late guitarist Jeff Beck.

Tina was in her element, prompting her to reflect: “I was doing what I loved, in a city I loved, with people who genuinely cared about me and my future.”

Around this time she began working with publicist Bernard Doherty, who became her confidante.

In his warm and loving tribute yesterday, he remembered his first meeting with Tina, in January, 1984, at The Venue Victoria in London.

“I went backstage with other music biz people,” he said. “She was chatty, funny, excited to be back in England with a new band, new look — and that infectious smile.

“A bit later, we met properly in Birmingham, invited by her manager Roger. She was really quite shy, so different from her hurricane stage persona.

“I found her quiet, thoughtful and surprisingly serious. She looked you in the eye and talked with a sense of absolute purpose — she wanted to be better, to sell out stadiums, to win Grammys.

“I came away from the meeting thinking, ‘If you work with Tina, you have to be on top of your game’.”

With further hits such as Better Be Good To Me, I Can’t Stand The Rain and Typical Male, as well as a clutch of Grammys, the second coming of sassy superstar Tina Turner was assured.

She recorded a duet with Bowie, Iggy Pop’s Tonight, and landed a major film role opposite Mel Gibson in the post-apocalyptic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, for which she sang We Don’t Need Another Hero. Who can forget her performance with Mick Jagger at the Philadelphia Live Aid show in 1985, when he ripped off her skirt during It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll (But I Like It)?

Doherty revealed a hilarious incident from 1987 which he said was “a classic example of the woman Tina was”.

“Flying between shows from Germany to Portugal, her luggage got lost. We arrived at the TV studio for a huge show with no outfits and less than an hour before she was due on stage.

“Unfazed, Tina looked at me, eyed up the white collarless shirt I was wearing and said, ‘Bernard, give me your shirt’.

“Minutes later, there she is, red lippy in place, wearing my shirt with her high-heeled shoes and black tights with a belt cinched around her waist. She looked fantastic. A superstar like no other. The show must go on.” As the Eighties progressed, Tina’s incredible achievements began to pile up.

She performed in front of 180,000 fans at the Maracana Stadium in Rio, Brazil, in 1988, the biggest-ever paying crowd for a solo artist.

A year later she released her version of Bonnie Tyler’s The Best — and why not? Tina had become “simply the best”.

She followed in the footsteps of Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Paul McCartney and the rest by singing a Bond theme — GoldenEye, composed for her by Bono and The Edge of U2.

Not only did Tina have the world at her feet but she was a kind and caring soul, with Keith Richards once describing her as a “favourite aunt” or “fairy godmother”.

She acknowledged this by saying: “I was always trying to take care of people when we were on the road.

“If anyone had a cold, I’d nag them to button up their coat and wear a scarf.

“I’d offer VapoRub for sore throats. At heart, I’m equal parts Mother Earth and Rock ’n’ Roll.”

Her dear friend Doherty said: “This woman knew exactly where she wanted to go in life. Off stage, there was no showbiz about her, no looking backwards.

“Tina was on a mission and I felt genuinely privileged to be part of her journey.

“With her, it was who she was and not what she was that mattered.

“She carried herself with absolute grace, humility and humour. Being part of her team was being part of a family.”

Doherty treasured his time with Tina and continued: “Over the years, we got to know each other so well.

“She became friends with my wife, Anne, a fashion designer who created some her stage dresses. She came to our wedding up in Scotland in 1989, singing at the party and having laughs and fun with family and friends.”

In summing up his feelings, Doherty concluded: “She was utterly unique — working tirelessly to achieve so much respect and so many triumphant successes.

“Her strength and spirit on stage was only matched by her personal elegance, dignity and grace away from the spotlight.”

Tina lived out her days with Erwin, a German music executive who was sent by her record label to meet her at Dusseldorf airport in 1986.

“He was just so different,” she said. “So laid back, so comfortable, so unpretentious, and I needed love.”

Tina found love, not just from Erwin but the whole world.

Topics: TV, Tina Turner

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