Happy Birthday, Tina Turner!
by Maureen Orth November 26, 2008, 8:35 AM
The headline of the Washington Post review said it all: “What’s Age Got to Do With It?”.
Today, Tina Turner turns 69 or 70, depending on which research material you use. When I wrote the Vanity Fair cover story on her, in 1993, we used the latter. In those days, Tina was a “Bhuddist Baptist” who loved Armani suits and champagne and looked forward to getting off the stage to enjoy the good life in Europe with her much younger companion, a German record executive.
Today she is back onstage, 50 years after her debut with her then husband, wife-beating musical genius Ike Turner, now deceased. I saw her at the Verizon Center, in downtown Washington, D.C., and she was on fire, a cat on a hot tin roof. Her blond wig is now the size of a lion mane. What a show!
Ladies, we should all take note: Tina Turner goes through at least six Bob Mackie costumes, all heavy on the sequins, and allows her still gorgeous gams to show. She even lets her upper arms show. She sings in a strong, rough, searing voice and shakes her size-10 booty the whole night long, all while balanced on four-inch spike heels. (Well, she does sit for one or two songs, and there is a 30-minute intermission) And while the audience of mostly “middle aged” white women looks on in utter disbelief, Our Lady of the Stilettoes prances along a cherry picker suspended two or three stories above them without any safety net whatsoever.
There are real flames in the background, and all the sexy dancers and back-up singers we’ve come to expect ever since the days of the Ikettes. A few nights before, I saw the Eagles in the same venue, and while they still play great music, their identical black business suits and another-day-at-the-office demeanor make them seem like a corporate barbershop quartet compared to Tina.
By the time she gets to her closer, “Proud Mary” (what else?), Tina Turner, whose life has seldom been nice or easy, makes you understand how much there is to be said for seven decades spent struggling, triumphing, and playing great music. Happy Birthday to the Queen—of Rock or whatever else she wants to be.