• Carmen Milligan

Tina is the SHIT, y'all!

Stop what you are doing (after you read this, of course) and watch "Tina" on HBA Max. It's a documentary of Tina Turner; and, if you think you know Tina, you don't.

What we DO know:

  • She went to the club where Ike Turner was playing night after night until he let her sing on stage.

  • Ike and Tina's feelings were more like siblings at first.

  • Ike changed her name to Tina without consulting her.

  • The abuse started early, and he usually had sex with her after he beat her.

  • When she finally left him in 1976, after 16 years of marriage, she never looked back.

After she left, no one in the industry would touch her. She told her story to People magazine (the closest thing to social media in 1981), and the world's eyes were opened to Tina as a whole person, not half of a musical review. You know what Tina took from the marriage? The only thing of value to her: her name. He forced a new name upon her, and years later, she was going to reclaim it and rebrand it as her own.

Fun fact: She hated "What's Love Got to Do With It?". Can you even? This iconic song from the Private Dancer album came to her as a horrible demo that her manager really thought she could pull off. She took it to a songwriter, and, as they say, the rest is history. Thank goodness! It was her first number one single, has a kick-ass video, received three Grammy awards, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and was the title of a biographical film about her released in 1993.

Fun fact: She recorded all of the songs for Private Dancer in two weeks. She called it, "Easy. Done. Finished." She wanted to be a rock star, and this album made that happen. A music critic said that Tina's voice "melted vinyl", and, in 2020, the album was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Recording Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Fun fact: Tina didn't consider this a "comeback". To her, she had never arrived. This was more of a coming out party. Tina was a solo artist who was finally getting the fame, credit, accolades, and recognition that she deserved. The Private Dancer concert in Rio had 186,000 people. Finally, she was filling arenas and stadiums. By. Herself.

Not-so-Fun fact: Tina authorized a biography to be written so that she could put her story of abuse, violence, and first part of her life behind her. BEHIND HER. And yet, interview after interview, that was the subject: Ike this, Ike that, question after question. She even got to the point of saying, "Oh, we're going to talk about him again, are we?" After everything she had done, and the accomplishments that she had achieved, people still wanted to talk about the destructions and the mistakes.

Said to biographer Kurt Loder, "Kurt! I have been through fucking tons of heartbreak." She went on to say that she thought she would receive unconditional love from a man when she had earned it. Isn't that what unconditional love is? Unearned? This breaks my heart for her.

Tina Turner is 81. "How do you bow out slowly? Just go away?", she asks in the documentary. Because that is where she is in her life. She goes to America and she says goodbye to her fans. She will be missed. She will be remembered. Her work will be studied, savored, and continue to inspire others. She is a survivor, an icon, a superstar, wife, mother, but most of all, Tina is UNDENIABLE. I am glad to have existed at the same time this force of nature twirled, whirled, and blasted through this life. She is simply the best.

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