INTERVIEW WITH TINA
The Sun 20 July 1990
Tina Turner wows fans all over the world with her X-certificate stage show - who can believe she is 50 years old and a grandmother?
But Tina, currently on tour in the UK, is used to dishing out surprises. After an unsettled early life, she fought back to become one of pop’s biggest stars.
Her album sales have made her a multi-millionairess and after a disastrous marriage she now boasts a toyboy lover.
Q: You had a difficult childhood. What were your parents like?
A: I am part Navajo and Cherokee Indian and was born in the tiny backwoods town of Nutbush, Tennessee in 1939 where my father worked in the cotton fields. I was not close to my father, I felt he didn’t like me. I didn’t get much love or affection because my parents were always fighting.
Q: What happened after you joined?
A: I married him and we formed the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. I became known as quite a dirty girl. When I was offered a part in porn movies I confess I was tempted. But Ike wouldn’t let me. I guess I did go over the top in that revue. But I was acting under orders and those orders were to give it everything I’d got musically and sexually.
Even in later years when I’ve been working on my own I admit I’ve tried to turn on the guys, but I’m not ashamed of it.
I don’t think I would have attracted so many fans standing at the microphone like a statue.
Q: Some people say that woman choose men who are like their fathers. Is that what happened to you?
A: Ike and I were friends for years and that’s how we should have kept it. Physically Ike was nothing like my father but I guess psychologically they were similar. My father fought with my mother and Ike fought with his women.
Q: Is that why you turned down the role eventually played by Oscar-nominated Whoopi Goldberg in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster The Color Purple?
A: Even if I had received an Oscar for it, I would not have been really excited. Every time I looked at it, it would have reminded me of a side of my life I do not care to remember.
Q: You re-launched your career as a solo singer. How did you do it?
A: I worked at changing everything I didn’t like about myself. My red hair became wilder, I apply make-up much better, I’m thinner and my body is now in much better shape than it has ever been.
It had much to do with my being a happier person.
Q: People say Mick Jagger-who you teamed up with at Live Aid in 1985-learned to dance by watching you bop on stage. How did you meet him?
A: Mick wasn’t dancing when we toured with the Stones in 1966. I didn’t know who he was. I thought he had a very strange face. It was a really white, white face with big lips. He was always standing in the wings behind the speakers looking at me. Finally I said something to Ike and he said ‘That’s Mick Jagger’. Ike brought Mick into the room backstage with the Ikettes and I started to play around.
From then on Mick would always walk into the dressing room without knocking while we were dressing, and Ike was with Keith Richards and the guitars. After that Mick started to move around on stage.
Q: In the past you have put your back out. What happens?
A: A lot of my sexy dance moves are caused by pains in my back. I cannot stand up straight and hit some of the notes I hit. A lot of my body language has to do with the song I’m singing. Better Be Good To Me and Show Some Respect can actually injure me.
The legs are moving, the heart is really pumping, the body is straining-it’s wild.
That is one of the main reasons why I am touring again. I just get a tremendous thrill out of playing in front of all those people.
Q: Your hair has always completed your look and you have worn wigs for years. Why?
A: I started wearing wigs around 1960 when Ike was in St. Louis standing trial for a bank job he’d allegedly pulled. I decided to have my hair bleached because it was back in fashion but they left the heat cap on too long and my hair fell out. So I got into wigs.
Q: You make the wigs yourself. Does it involve much work?
A: Each wig is clipped to my real hair which I wear in little braids, so it doesn’t fly off in the show. You have to treat the wig hair and prepare it first. A lot of the hair I used to get came from Japan and you can’t colour their hair. Now I order the hair from Italy and each stage wig lasts around a year.
Q: You seem to have found happiness at last with Erwin Bach, a 32-year-old German record company boss, and have bought a house in Cologne to be near to him. What’s the attraction?
A: Erwin keeps me young. But believe it or not he is much more mature than I am. Sometimes he looks at me a little strangely. I don’t always act my age.
We laugh a lot. He’s definitely what I call a real man and not intimidated by me.
Q: Are you self-conscious about the age gap between you?
A: I always try to be attractive for myself rather than for any man.
Q: You’ve hinted this recent tour for the Foreign Affair album may be your last. Will you retire?
A: Dancing is very much part of my act so I don’t plan to carry on until I’m 60 or 80. I think I know this is the last real tour. You start degenerating at 50.
But I don’t really think about my age. Happiness is far more important.