HER MAN, MUSIC AND POLITICS.
Network December 1989
Tina Turner is the most celebrated female artist ever to make a rock comeback. Her 1984 album, Private Dancer, sold I1 million copies worldwide, reintroducing us to the steamy, high-powered dynamo of 'Proud Mary" fame. As Aunty Entity in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome she also picked up her film career where she had left it with The Acid Queen.
She may appear as a raunchy, sex-soaked star without a care in the world, but inside she knows what it is to suffer. The candid disclosure of her embittered marriage to Ike in the 1986 autobiography I, Tina left most readers angry and shocked. After living out a lonely, painful childhood and a 16-year marriage filled with Ike's beatings and humiliations, Tina has come out on top. Gone are the bad memories, the black eyes and the second rate lounge gig. Since hooking up with her energetic Australian manager Roger Davies in 1979, Tina has not looked back. She released the multiplatinum selling album Break Every Rule in 1986 and for the next two years she toured solidly, playing 220 concerts in 25 countries to more than 3.5 million people. Tina is a fighter and a winner; a gorgeous, 50-year-old woman who values her health, her soul and her relationships. Dressed in an elegant black pantsuit, red nail polish and low pumps, she is sitting by the window in a plush Toronto hotel room, checking over her interview schedule with the record company publicist. There's a small, simple gold chain around her throat and her hair is gently waved. She's come over from England to promote her first album in three years.
Your new album, Foreign Affair, is co produced by you and Dan Hartman. Is this your first experience producing?
I've always produced my songs on stage; taken them from the record and made them live with tempo and arrangements. I didn't plan to produce anything in the studio, but when I went in I didn't care for the arrangements Dan Hartman had made, so I came up with my own. This is the first time I've been in on a record from beginning to end, from the first rehearsals to the end mixing.
Do you ever write any of your own songs?
No. I know how to, but sometimes the flow of words just doesn't happen. I wouldn't do it just for the money, just for the publishing; I want it to be good. I'm not that crazy that I have to produce my own and write my own material.
Did any of the writers on this album write specifically for you?
One song by Tony Joe White was for me. The title track, 'Foreign Affair." Also Graham Lyle and Albert Hammond did 'Don't Want to Lose You.' They wrote it for an older woman singing about ideas they felt older women have in terms of men.
Speaking of men, you came out publicly and announced you had a boyfriend. Who is he?
Erwin is one that doesn't like to be discussed too much. He's an executive with my record company in Cologne and we've been together three years. I live in London so he visits me, or I visit him. I like Cologne ; it's very quiet; full of churches. It's a well balanced relationship because he has his career in the business. He's an important executive for his age.
How old is he?
Coming up on 34, I met him when he was 31. 1 was shocked when I finally got around to asking him how old he was; I assumed he was older. He's very mature. Most Germans are very serious. We're doing fine. It's a really good balance in my life to have a boyfriend. 'We're not talking about marriage. We didn't get together looking for that. He's a career person and so am I still.
At age 50 you are an inspiration to women of all ages. Where do you get your energy?
I'm very conscious about my health. I'm into homeopathic remedies. I had an illness that I couldn't get rid of so I went to a homeopathic doctor in London and he explained to me that medicine was holding it (die illness) in the body, tearing it down so that it couldn't heal. Since then I haven't even taken an aspirin over the last 10 years.
I started to practice Buddhism 13 years ago. And that's a whole way of thinking. I'm a less stressful person than I was. I don't hold anger, I don't hold envy, very little jealousy (laughs). It's hard to get rid of that in one lifetime. My work, the exercise that I've done for 28 years, you've gotta see that it's paid off. I've never done drugs, alcohol or smoked. Some say it's hard to believe because I was back in that time, but if you ever saw what it does, you'd know it's not attractive. With all my stage exercise - the dancing, the singing, and the sweating - it keeps the heart strong. It's all a contribution to fairly good health.
You are an extremely successful role model, especially as you were once a battered wife with very little control over your life. Do you feel you've helped raise consciousness in society for women, black women, in particular?
This whole role model bit started when I, Tina was published and people found out that I'd gone through all that. They respected me because I came out back on top, I survived and am a happy person. After the book they wanted to touch me and find out what I've done. But before that I was treated just like anybody else.
The world of rock 'n' roll is very male and very white. Does this ever make you uncomfortable?
When I started my career, Ike and Tina always played white people's music: we played teenage clubs in St. Louis full of young white kids. They loved the music we played, the chart hits we covered. We seldom played our own music, mostly just covers of people like the Stones. Then when 'Proud Mary" came out, we finally got our hit. I was that black person who said, 'I like rock music, I don't want to sing R&B, I don't like it'.
How do you feel about musicians like Vernon Reid and Filmmakers like Spike Lee who speak out on black issues? Especially when they criticize other performers for not doing more for the black community?
I've been out of the country and I haven't kept up, but when you become successful, people want you to come back and drag everybody else along with you. It's not your responsibility if you don't want to. Who says when you become successful you have to come back and pull your people? I think President Kennedy decided he wanted to be president. Everybody isn't politically minded. You do your part by making a representation of the race, but I don't agree that it's wrong not to speak out.
You can't force us to be something that we're not. Critics say you don't need to be a politician, but it means I have to stop what I'm doing to go and try to get someone else's life going. And what's going to happen with my success? Am I going to fall down? You take all kinds of chances if you become something that someone is forcing you to become.
Would you have wanted to live your life any differently if given a chance?
You don't think in the past the you think now. Yeah, I had some ugliness in my life, but I grew from it. Each step, the problems I had with my mother, the problems I had with my father, my upbringing, my schooling and my relationship with my ex-husband, from all of that there was something I learned. I would have said 'no thanks' if you'd have shown me a picture of it, but now that I did experience it, I know I grew strong from it. It showed me what I didn't want to do and what I did want to do.
When is the film version of I, Tina coming out?
The casting should be done next year. They plan to use an unknown for Tina's part.
You're not going to be in the movie?
No. I've played my part in real already. It's enough that I have involvement with the script.
You've also said you don't want to sing songs about your life.
Would you want to sing about it? There's enough depression in this world. I think music should get you going. Sure there should be music for moods, but ... Yaahoooo...I like it up.
Network December 1989