NEW ZEALAND EXCLUSIVE
What Tina wants to tell Beyoncé, J- Lo and Rihanna
Tina Turner insists she never used sex to sell her music when she performed on stage. “All I ever wanted to do was give people a good time,” the rock ’n’ roll legend tells.
“When I stood there, sweat dripping from me, all the make-up on, and the hair, and everybody looking up at me, smiling, that was what I always left the stage with,” says Tina. The secret was knowing when enough was enough. Give them too much and you’ll get them on stage with you.”
Tina (77) draws a sharp contrast between her act, at the height of her solo fame in the ’80s, and the female superstars of today, women such as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez.
“I’ve got to be careful,” she says, likening criticism to “a pillow that you cut in the wind”.
She blames competitiveness – and weak management – for the sexual provocativeness that pervades the world of female music stars now.
“It just went further. For me, it’s too much. I just want to say that it can be a turn off. I think the new generation is on that road.”
We were talking as the singer prepared to launch
Tina, a new musical based on her life, directed by
Phyllida Lloyd. It’s the first musical Phyllida has worked on since Mamma Mia!, which is still running after nearly two decades.
Tina will look at the singer’s hardscrabble childhood in Nutbush, Tennessee, her years of servitude with the controlling Ike Turner, and the freedom years after she walked out on Ike and became an international solo star.
The show, written by Katori Hall and produced by Tali Pelman, starts previews at the Aldwych Theatre in March next year and opens officially in April.
It’s not all bad news for Beyoncé and co, by the way.
She loves Beyoncé’s elegance.
“I love how Rihanna sings. I love how Jennifer Lopez looks – except her behind is a little bit heavy. Those girls are the leaders.”
And what of the dancing? “I always did the shimmy from side to side. The hips went from side to side – never from the front.”
Dancing, she insists, should be “feet and hips – not pelvic thrusts!”
Tina says she had rules when it came to working with “the boys” too. And what boys!
Mick Jagger and David Bowie were like the brothers she never had. “We never slept together and they never came on to me because I think they saw me as a role model in some kind of way. Mick wanted to dance
– and I was a dancer – but he never gave me the credit!
“He said his mother taught him how to dance. But we worked with him in the dressing room, me and the girls, and we taught him how to Pony.” (For those with two left feet, that’s a ’60s dance move.) “I had a different kind of collaboration with David,” she continues. “It was more to do with the singing. All those English guys felt I could sing. My vocals are natural. I hit the note naturally and they’d go, ‘What?! How’d you do that?’”
Tina started singing in church as a girl. Even then, she knew the importance of taking care of her voice.
“Being a church girl, you were taught that alcohol was not a good thing. Southern church people didn’t drink anyway back then, though some imbibed the corn whisky.
“But I wasn’t attracted to smoking or the drugs, or the drinking – though later on I did enjoy a glass of wine, and Champagne, but even then, always in moderation.”
She attributes her enviable figure to moderation too. “I’ve been lucky with my weight,” she says. “I grew up skinny, like a little pony. The style of the women in those days was big hips, big legs.”
But 50 years of dancing – not to mention hustling through airports while on tour – helped keep her trim. As did eating carefully. “I still have what I want to eat, but moderately. I don’t overdo the chocolates.”
Now she’s turning her attention to the hunt to find an actress who can play her in Tina.
“She will definitely have to be able to sing,” she says. “We’re not pushing that she has to be pretty; but she has to be in shape. She can’t be fat.”
Out of the limelight, the singer contends that she’s not actually Tina Turner at all.
“When the lights go out, I go back to being Anna Mae Bullock [her birth name].”
There’s still a spiritual side to her, although she is no longer a Baptist, but a Buddhist.
‘ I don’t want to be a cruddy old woman on stage with a walking stick’
“When life got tough, I needed all the help – from all the gods,” she jokes.
Despite those tough times, she doesn’t see her past as dark. “You know, they say there’s a light side and a dark side. I think I’ve always been on the light side.”
Part of the light these days comes from a good marriage to longtime love Erwin Bach. The pair wed in 2013 and now live in Zurich. “I’ve touched upon a happiness I thought was impossible to have,” she says. She’s happy with retirement too, though doesn’t rule out a one-off comeback, particularly if the old gang – “whoever is still alive, from my time” – were involved.
“I think something like that
I’d be a part of,” she concedes. “But to actually go back to work on a tour or something? No. Retirement is retirement. Three years from now I’ll be 80, and I don’t want to be seen as a cruddy old woman, walking around on stage with a walking stick.”
Shimmy on, Tina, but only from side to side! Longtime love and now husband Erwin is simply the best for Tina.
The Private Dancer singer had duets with Mick (left) and David, but nothing sexual – they were the brothers she never had.